What I’ve Learned From Eating Missouri’s Famous Guber Burger
Last week I tried my first bite of the hamburger Sedalia's Wheel Inn made famous, the Guber Burger. It's been a bit of an educational experience beyond trying both the Kehde's Barbeque and Goody's Steakburger versions of the burger. Here's what I've learned:
- Many Sedalians take the Guber Burger personally. Behka willingly shared a quarter of her burger with me at Kehde's and she and our co-worker Lori, another lifelong area Guber Burger lover, were looking at me intently to see what I thought. At both Kehde's and Goody's I felt Lori might get mad at me if I didn't LIKE it. (She might have been having fun with me by the time I ordered my own Guber Burger at Goody's.)
- Not every Sedalian thinks the Guber Burger is the best comfort food from when they were a kid. My partner in crime every Friday, Mike Pettis, didn't think it was all that and a bag of chips. Although he admitted it had been 15 years since he had one. He got one at Goody's too and was rather diplomatic about what he thought of the experience.
- The Wheel Inn is credited with inventing the Guber Burger and the official toppings they served it with are peanut butter, mayo, lettuce, and tomato. This is according to The Kitchn website.
- Sedalia isn't the only town and Missouri is not the only state to have its own specialty burger. If you've ever eaten at Culver's, then you've eaten Wisconsin's Butter Burger. Minnesota has the Juicy Lucy, a burger stuffed with American cheese. New Mexico the green chile burger. Not to mention Oklahoma's Onion Burger.
- You can get a take on Missouri's Guber Burger in Seattle, Washington at two places although they add bacon. McCoy's Firehouse Bar and Grill call it the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger, and King's Hardware calls it the After School Special.
- Both Lori and Behka agree that Goody's Guber Burger is closer to the original served at The Wheel Inn.
So after trying the Guber Burger at both Kehde's Barbeque and Goody's Steakburgers what do I think? I liked the Guber Burger at Goody's better. Why? I'm not a fan of flame-grilled, char-grilled, burgers. So it doesn't matter how much I liked the taste of peanut butter and the meat, the flame-grilled char and smokiness of the flame grilling just isn't my bag.
Now the Goody's Guber Burger. The peanut butter was just the right kind of melty. The peanut butter and the savory meat flavor just play well together. Maybe I'm pushing the envelope here, but I might ask for a little more peanut butter next time. Peanut Butter can be a really strong flavor, but I'd like to try the burger with the PB kicked up a notch. It's worth trying if it is a little too much of a good thing, lesson learned.
The muted flavor of the PB takes a couple of bites to kick in. I found the first bite of both the Kehde's and the Goody's Guber Burger to be odd tasting. I don't know if it's the unusual experience of PB on a burger or something else. Yet it all kicks in and starts to come together with bite number three and just gets more and more and more delicious. Would I get it again when I go to Goody's? You bet. It's a great unique burger, one of those local experiences that just isn't going to be found in any other place. Plus it tastes good. Very good.
That said, there's one thing those of us transplanted West Central Missourians will never get to experience when it comes to the Guber Burger. That's the burger being part of the experience of growing up in Sedalia, or West Central Missouri.
As we sat in the big booth at Goody's Lori was reminiscing about the first time she remembered having a Guber Burger. Mike was chatting about fun times at drive in's that have long since gone, while Craig and I chimed in with memories of our own hometown childhood drive-in experiences.
It's that connection between the Guber Burger and the fond memories and emotions associated with it and childhood that's the burger's secret sauce, more so than the PB. I think that's what truly makes the burger special in the eyes of many native Sedalia residents.
For me, it was special to sit with my friends and have them share a bit of their childhood with me. That's a pretty good memory too.