Of all the many strains this election season has put on our nation’s already-fragile relationships—between liberal and conservative, between liberal and really loudly liberal Facebook friend, between people who think, hey, maybe don’t call for the assassination of a presidential candidate even as a joke and Trump supporters—perhaps none has been so incendiary as the division along our Southern border. Damning rhetoric aimed at Mexico and its many immigrants, documented and otherwise, has reached a level of discourse unheard anywhere outside of my late grandfather’s face, beginning with Trump’s comments about criminals and rapists that, holy shit, were made over a year ago. How the hell is this man still in the race? What is happening? What the hell is happening?
Anyway, it’s fine. Because as Trump himself demonstrated, there is no racist generalization and the widening chasm it creates within our fractious society that cannot be bridged with food. And in the tradition of delicious Mexican-made taco bowls, we can soon turn to another bloated imperialist who panders to our weakest selves, and seek a new era of foreign diplomacy in the form of Burger King’s Whopperito.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the Whopperito takes the true-blue ingredients of the Whopper—beef, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles—then introduces them to Mexican tradition by cramming these greasy prides of America into a flour tortilla, where they can soak up some cool Latin culture and party their fucking asses off. “A queso sauce replaces the mayonnaise from the hamburger,” the Tribune notes, in case you were concerned this wouldn’t be done respectfully.
While honoring Mexico’s rich culinary heritage is certainly one reason behind making their burger a burrito now, Burger King’s North American president Alex Macedo admits there are some other factors at play. The popularity of Tex-Mex, for one, which Macedo notes is “one of the fastest-growing categories—consumers like the freshness of it, they like the mix of flavors.” And what could be fresher or more complex in flavor than a fast-food cheeseburger wrapped in a tortilla, creating a piquant, revelatory, nigh-Proustian mélange of pickle and disappointment?
And yes, okay, there are other, possibly more exploitative reasons. The Tribune also points out that Chipotle has been struggling after so many outbreaks of E. coli and norovirus left customers weakened, and therefore more susceptible to being lured in with vague burrito shapes. Like a sick, enfeebled animal who just ate at Chipotle, the chain has found itself swarmed by corporate predators of late who are all trying to steal away some of its massive consumer share in the Tex-Mex marketplace—from Taco Bell’s upscale taco gastropub concept to McDonald’s experiments with Snack Wraps, Egg-Normous Burritos, and trying to get people to kill themselves after seeing its new Happy Meal mascot. And Burger King making a Whopperito is certainly fair considering Chipotle recently announced its own Tasty Made burger spinoff, and it could have just burned the restaurant down. Making a burrito out of spite is far more sporting.
But Macedo claims that the Whopperito isn’t actually a response to any other competitors. Rather, it’s a result of successful market testing in Tex-Mex hotbeds like Pennsylvania and Ohio, whose residents naturally sparked to this zesty burger wad with a taste that Macedo tantalizingly describes as “not too spicy” and “It’s funky, but it’s not polarizing.” Good. Lord knows we’ve sown enough discord this year. Hopefully we can all find a new, more lasting symbol of modern American unity in the sight of this overworked and under-appreciated Mexican shell, straining to hold a bunch of fat cheeseburger detritus together.
You can pick up the Whopperito for $2.99 beginning next Monday, August 15—but only for the next three months or so. Come November, Americans will have to find some other way to show how they really feel about Mexico.