I remember like it was yesterday my grandmother standing at her ancient kitchen stove peeling the red plastic rind off slices of thick-cut bologna.
She would score the perimeter of each piece with a sharp knife so it wouldn’t curl up and then slap it into hot cast iron skillet. After the bologna had sizzled just long enough to brown but not burn, she would flip it over and cook the other side. Once she’d fried the entire one-pound package, supper—which was also likely to include sliced tomatoes, corn-on-the-cob, homemade pickles and some kind of bread (biscuits, corn muffins or maybe just a plate piled high with sliced Colonial bread)–was served.
Fifty-something years later, when Hardee’s debuted their Fried Bologna and Velveeta Biscuit, how could I not try one?
Facebook was abuzz with the news, as were TV and radio. When I opened my mailbox one afternoon to discover a buy-one, get-one-free coupon, I couldn’t hold out any longer. Never mind that each monstrous biscuit contains 540 calories, 33 grams of fat, and a whopping 41 grams of carbohydrates.
I’ll stop at nothing to get a good column. So last Saturday morning, off to Hardee’s I went.
That the biscuit was stuck to its greasy paper wrapper by gooey yellow cheese was the first sign I was in for a treat. As I unwrapped the huge, fluffy, perfectly browned biscuit, steam wafted up and set me to salivating. This was no wimpy breakfast sandwich to scarf down while rushing from one errand to the next. The culinary masterpiece spread before me was simply too thick, too big around, and too dripping with butter, grease and melted Velveeta to hurry through. I settled into the booth, grabbed a handful of napkins from the dispenser in the middle of the table, and raised the biscuit to my lips with both hands.
Now is probably the appropriate time to confess that I’ve always been a huge fan of Hardee’s biscuits. I don’t know of a restaurant—fast food or otherwise—that serves biscuits that can compare. Not McDonald’s. Not Burger King. Not Cracker Barrel. Not Nashville’s Loveless Café. Not even Tudor’s Biscuit World, a West Virginia restaurant chain whose biscuits are so enormous that they hardly leave room on the plate for the bacon and eggs.
Of all the biscuit-and-something combination Hardee’s sells, my hands-down favorite is their sausage gravy biscuit. I’ve always said that if I were on death row, I’d choose two (or maybe even three, there being no further need to count calories) Hardee’s gravy biscuits as my last meal. Washed down with a fully-sugared, fully-caffeinated ice-cold Coca-Cola.
But I digress.
Is the “buttery, made-from scratch biscuit with melty Velveeta cheese, fried Oscar Mayer bologna, and a fluffy folded egg” (a quote taken directly from their ad) the tastiest breakfast item Hardee’s sells? You’ll have to judge for yourself. But you’d better hurry. Like so many other wonderful things in this world, they’re only around for a limited time.
And once they’re gone, you’ll have to stand over a hot stove and fry that bologna yourself. Just like my grandmother used to do.
(October 12, 2014)