Occasionally, picky eaters and English-language pedants can align under a common cause. For the past 48 hours, it’s been their undivided support for this anti-cheese diatribe written by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Phil Kadner. On Tuesday, he dedicated his entire column to restaurants that automatically put cheese on burgers, opening with this lede: “A hamburger does not have cheese. A hamburger with cheese is called a ‘cheeseburger.’”
Here, then, is the crux of Kadner’s, um, beef:
People who want cheese on their hamburgers should be forced to say, “I want a cheeseburger.” I should not be required to say, “I want a hamburger, no cheese,” or even answer a question such as, “Do you want cheese on your hamburger?”
Kadner argues that he’s been “doing battle” with fast-food workers for “at least 40 years,” trying to teach them the difference between the two burger prefixes ham- and cheese-. It’s a valid point, sort of, but if it also strikes you as something that’s sort of come out of nowhere, know that it was written in response to the class-action lawsuit filed by two Floridians who claim that McDonald’s breaks antitrust laws with its Quarter Pounders, charging people the same amount whether they want cheese or not. Customers, in Kadner’s view, simply shouldn’t have to pay for cheese that isn’t on their burgers. He explains:
This semantic battle became outright war at a fast-food franchise one day when I was charged for a cheeseburger after ordering a hamburger with no cheese.
“Yes, you have to pay for the cheese because our hamburgers come with cheese,” I was told by a clerk who was rendered speechless when I asked if she would give me money for a diamond ring she did not request, and I planned never to give her.
I slowly explained that I ordered a hamburger and was now being told I had to pay for cheese that I was not getting.
Kadner contends that he’d be “a millionaire” if he got back all of the money he’s spent on cheese that he had removed from burgers, fish sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, salads, etc. But even the attorneys who filed the Quarter Pounder suit estimate that their clients are losing, at max, 30 to 90 cents per burger. So keeping a running track can seem pretty petty — something that, of course, hasn’t escaped the people of the internet:
It seems Kadner also has some new fans: