BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – National Double Cheeseburger Day would seem to be the logical time to find out, once and for all, who has the best cheeseburgers in Bakersfield.
The answer? Everybody does. Just ask them.
Which is probably a good thing, because U.S. demand for the grilled ground-beef sandwich, topped with American cheese, is outrageous. According to a poll commissioned by White Castle, the Ohio-based burger chain, Americans scarf down five burgers per month, which is a little more than one a week. How can that be, you might ask, given the fact many people eat few or none. Answer: The rest of America apparently compensates. That, and the poll was commissioned by a burger chain.
Burgers are such a part of American culture they’re not just sustenance, they’re entertainment.
But we know this. Bakersfield has loved its cheeseburgers for generations. Many a Bakersfield teenager – now grayed with age – has fond memories of Michener’s Drive-in, Stan’s, Joe Mooney’s, Jumbo’s, the Budge Inn.
Some of those classic burger joints are still with us, competing with the McDonalds, Burger Kings and In-n-Outs of the world. I found one man who has been enjoying Andre’s Drive-In since 1963.
“Oh, they’ve always had good burgers,” he said from the drive-through line. “It’s just always been good.”
The secret of survivors like Andre’s? Consistency, even though changes of ownership. Sam Choe bought Andre’s on Brundage Lane in 2004 and learned from the man himself, original owner John Andre.
“I’m changing nothing,” Choe said. “Just John Andre teaching me and I’m just still going in” with the same recipes.
John Andre wasn’t just selling cheeseburgers. He was selling his company’s hard-earned reputation – and he was selling nostalgia. Fact is, 63 percent of the people in that White Castle poll would prefer a burger that evokes nostalgia.
Nostalgia is a specialty of the house at Carla’s Drive-In in Oildale.
“Nothing changes here,” said veteran cashier De Dee Rogers. “Everything stays the same. Everything for years and years.”
The place has such an iconic look it’s been used in a couple of national TV commercials, one for Tropicana orange juice.
You want iconic? That’s also on the menu at Happy Jack’s downtown. Come for the company, stay for the burger.
As it turns out, it’s really not about the cheeseburger. It’s about the friendliness, it’s about the service, it’s about the atmosphere. It’s about the culture of the American cheeseburger.