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“Don’t go to the grocery store hungry”


“Don’t read this post while hungry”

Walking into Smashburger today, I realized it wasn’t Smashburger I wanted, but a fast food chain offering a different kind of burger.

Smashburger is good, don’t get me wrong. So are the other newer additions to the burger sector that surged in popularity in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. 

When you have a spare minute, go to Google Maps to zoom out until you see all of America and type “fast food.” You will see how America is bathed in a sea of fast food restaurants.

I couldn’t figure out how to search for the total number of fast food joints in America.

There are tons and tons of fast food restaurants, such as:

  • 14,000 McDonalds, where the signs that said “millions served” when I was a kid should now read “served a trillion or so”
  • The Habit burger which ain’t bad at all
  • There’s nothing like the Squeeze Inn burger’s tough-to-reproduce-at-home incredibly mouthwateringly deliciouslymade fried-cheese skirt that’s as close to burger dessert as you can get
  • Five Guys not only delivers a perfectly legal OTC killer burger but there’s also the bag of peanut oil-fried fries I can never finish but oh how I want to inhale them right this minute
  • Then there’s that place at the mall I completely forgot about until just now but can’t remember the name
  • Arctic Circle and the magic fry sauce
  • Reminds me of the place in Spokane in the mid-’90s with the amazing fry sauce
  • Ooh yeah, MOOYAH
  • Burger King, formerly known as “InstaBurger King” long before Instagram was known as Instagram
  • Wendy’s, my dollar-menu-of-choice favorite
  • Surprisingly, to me, Dairy Queen is near the top of the list of biggest burger chains
  • Looming large in agnostic California is the Bible-verse-packaged In-N-Out
  • The world’s strangest, unappetizing-commercial-ad-strategy mascot represents burger establishment Jack in the Box (I find them so disturbing I won’t even link to them) and I should mention everyone on the East Coast thinks they went out of business in the early 90s after a food safety scare nearly killed them after they killed some people
  • Hardee’s dominates in the Midwest with truly magnificent chocolate milkshakes, unless I’m confusing Hardee’s shakes with those sold at Roy Rogers
  • Hardee’s and Roy Rogers are the same
  • Steak ‘n Shake is okay but in more than one of their restaurants their entrurineyway welcomes me with a fresh smell of stale urine, which acts as a test on how hungry I truly am – hence the new word “enturineyway” 
  • …which can be confused with the new Shake Shack that doesn’t smell at all
  • White Castle mini-burger buns that glow with a plastic-like veneer dominate East Coast urban centers
  • Sonic drive-in where you get out of the car and talk into a wall to order from the cashier who is standing 20 feet away in the Sonic employee-only hut is clever by half with the most complex ordering system on the planet. Side note: no public restroom
  • I’ve eaten so many burgers

How many burgers have you eaten in your lifetime?

I just calculated that I’ve eaten about 3,000 hamburgers in my 46 years on earth. That’s about 85 a year since I was 5 which equates to about 1.5 a week. Should I see a doctor?

So many burgecsfdodsssdkfj asifjsdljdkfs dlskdd

I just passed out at the keyboard thinking about how much I want burger meat.

Side thought: What if a clever marketer back in the ’50s had made meatloaf the standard fast food entrée?

“Would you like fries with your meatloaf?”

Side thought 2: In just 28 years, we’ll have to call the 50’s the 1950’s.

Of all the fast food restaurants, I know a thing or two about McDonald’s, having worked there for more than three years during high school. So I’ve got some experience with this. To prove it, I had the burns on my arms and hands from diligently changing out the fry grease to get them to the expected golden look. I guess I can’t prove the burns because they’re gone now. But I did want to mention I was burned changing the fry grease and never issued a claim, mostly because I didn’t know you could do that sort of thing (this was before the multimillion dollar suit from the spilled McD’s coffee). Once I left McDonald’s, I was determined to never change fry grease again for that or or for any other fast food restaurant…until I walked into Smashburger today.

At first I was thinking, “There are so many burger joints,” which led to the logical question: Why do we call them joints?

All of a sudden, as I stood in the long line there at Smashburger, I said, “That’s it! I need to create my own burger joint. Not an actual joint, but a burger joint, and not the kind you smoke but the kind you eat.”

The family in line in front of me gave me a perplexed eye, but I kept talking.

“I’m starting a burger joint!” I told them. “My very own burger joint!”

The first thought that came to me was, “Are marijuana dispensaries ‘joint joints?'”

The second thought that came to me was, “What should I name my burger joint?”

That’s when the burger joint’s name instantly and effortlessly came to me. You already know the name because it’s the title of this post. But I didn’t know it until that moment.

Rolphburger, all one word.


That would be the name of my burger establishment.

As soon as the name entered my mind, I knew it was right. I didn’t need to focus group this one.

“Rolphburger it is,” I said, triumphantly.

The family in front of me looked even more troubled. So I stopped talking out loud. Except for one more time when I said, “Rolphburger.” I often repeat myself to drive the point home. And then I drove the point all the way home when I uttered this dramatic whisper:


What did you think this would be about? Did you think I was going to reveal that my ancestors were actually Rolphbergers? That I’m Jewish?


Preface to The Next Section

As you may know, I have a podcast that is actually an anti-podcast. As in, it’s not like any other podcast.

It comes naturally to me to be a little rebellious when it comes to certain cultural traditions, like the longstanding unspoken rule that podcasts have to be about one thing and one thing only.

My anti-podcast podcast is about a lot of things.

That’s what an anti-podcast podcast does.


The Next Section

“Rolphburger” would be the name of my very own anti-burger burger joint. As unappetizing as it sounds, Rolphburger would be an experiment in whether more people would eat at my restaurant than listen to my podcast.

There are the other burger places named after people, but none are named after a Rolph.

They’re named more after people like Carl.

Most people would eat a burger named after a Carl, but how many would eat a burger named Rolph?

Carl’s Jr. rose above the other first-name-store competitors that have come and gone like Oscar’s, Pal’s, Harvey’s, Zip’s, Dick’s Drive In, and there was even a Wimpy’s – and wait, there’s more! There was a Wimpy’s AND a Winky’s – 

Not one of these names out of all the available burger joint names conjures up a tangible, dense, and somewhat yolky-colored chunky bile image like Rolphburger does.

Aren’t you curious what the secret sauce of the Rolphburger would be, especially after that last paragraph? Before you speculate, remember that people eat crickets and it’s okay. How bad could a Rolphburger be?

The word “burger” originates in Germany. Many people think my surname “Rolph” also comes from Germany. It’s all because of the young, handsome German-speaking Rolfe character on Sound of Music. Now, this is unfortunate, because Rolfe in the movie was a full-fledged Nazi. So when people ask me, “Is Rolph German?” I wonder what all those people who don’t ask are thinking about me.

Most don’t realize that my surname has Scandinavian Viking-era roots, and that my paternal family came to America from England, not Germany, 300 years before Mein Kampf was even penned. All to say that Rolphburger would not be a combination of two German words. Customers wouldn’t concern themselves with the etymology of Rolphburger anyway, especially after the first bite.

That said, I hold no grudge against Germans, neither do I hold grudges against germaphobes. At first, hardcore germophobes (who could be dubbed “the fourth Reich” as they attempt to cleanse the earth of all germs) might expect a Rolphburger restaurant to be a tad filthy and slightly nauseating. How surprised they would be to find a spotless dining area thoroughly sanitized by our cleaning crew dressed in clean uniforms that make the In-N-Out staff jealous. 

To correct the impression that Rolph is German, employees could dress in very clean-looking Viking uniforms, calling to mind the cast of Game of Thrones.

Still, our marketing department could run with any negative connotation of “to ralph or to rolf.” For example, napkin dispensers could have “sickness bags” like the ones on airplanes. And there could even be a Rolfing benefit for those who enjoy a good massage, because Rolfing is actually a type of massage. A lot of people don’t know that. Most people need to relax after eating a burger, and a good Rolfing could Rolf away the discomfort of a triple-Rolphburger.

Jelly Belly’s are famous for their barf and ear wax jelly beans. The Rolphburger could be famous for its burgers with bile-colored secret sauce that tastes really bitter. We’re brainstorming here. This is by no means the final menu decision.

Rolphries could be potato wedges fried in animal fat. Those easily surpass the vegetable oil variety in taste. The animal welfare groups wouldn’t be fans…until they tasted a Rolphry (pronounced “Rolph-fry”).

“Pull up to the Rolph-thru to place your order.”

Value meals consist of more than one item. I would offer just one Rolph Value Meal called the “Number One.” For some amount like $50,000, I would hand deliver a Rolphburger to your home every night at 5:30pm for at least a few weeks.

The kids meal would be the Rolphy Meal.

Want chicken instead? Try the BokBok Rolphwich. Okay, maybe not. Keep it simple, Josh. 

Wraps are all the rage, and the anti-place should make pronunciation of some of its products difficult in order to maintain anti-burger status. The RolphWrap satisfies that requirement.

Salad? Here, try the Iceburger Rolph Wedge Salad with Rolphinagrette Dressing.

Double burgers have been a hit. If my burgers were thin enough I could possibly have a quadruple burger. The name? The RolphRolphRolphRolphBurger, all one word.

Just say “Rolph” for each burger patty you want on the burger.

Want a RolphRolphRolphRolphRolphRolphRolphBurger? No problem.

You put in the effort, it’s yours.

Saying “Rolph” takes a lot of work for a mouth. Think about it, the “R” sound starts back in the tonsil area and involves straining of the tongue, followed by the “L” sound requiring more tongue acrobatics, and then the “F” sound at the end is like abruptly shifting from 4th gear down to 1st, or for you automatic transmission drivers, it’s like driving really fast down a curvy hill in San Francisco and then hitting a stop sign, or for you Tesla drivers it’s like unplugging your car, getting back in the car and then getting out to plug it in again, and repeating this several times. All bad analogies but just think of something difficult and that’s what it’s like to say “Rolph.”

Crypto Rolphcoinage could pay for the burger feast.  It’s more than a mere meme coin. It’s a Rolphcoin. 

At Rolphburger, the customer is always first. These days, that goes without saying. But at Rolphburger, the customer also comes second and third. That means that Rolphburger customers can not only complain freely to staff with or without cause and get whatever they want in return, but they can also put workers in headlocks and give them wedgies.

A dessert offering could be the RolphShake. How about a wafer called the Rolpher? Not sure that works. Or there could be a side called the Rolph Roll.

Anything I’m forgetting? Would you go to Rolphburger?

Before you answer, I will keep you posted on my progress, and can’t wait to open shop in your town. I WILL franchise, so please share your interest in getting rich quick in the comments below. If you sign up a few friends and they sign up a few friends below them, and so on, this could be the best, most legit pyramid scheme this side of Essential Oils (watch out Young Living and doTERRA, here comes ROLPHoils). I look forward to working with you, feeding you, and starting the next foodie or “Rolphoodie” craze, which is a mix between Paleo and South Beach with a lot of meat in-between.