It's Not Hip to be SquareBurger

Burger Breakdown

SquareBurger - Map It!
A slice of American cheese, pickles, onions, ketchup, and mustard. There might be burger patty in there somewhere. If you find one, let us know.
$2 extra but a necessary part of the meal, and apparently make Kyle feel nostalgic.

Stephen Starr's cutely named burger shack in Franklin Square park was a cause for celebration in the burger eating world when it was unveiled in 2009. The simple brick building has a few grills where patrons can find the fare you'd expect in a park that also has a carousel and miniature golf (burgers, fries, hot dogs, milkshakes). And though there are reports that those running SquareBurger had considered making the patties square to further the cute factor, they graciously skipped that foray into the land of cuteness.

Exterior of SquareBurgerOn a nice day, SquareBurger is positively jumping as Philadelphians line up for TastyCake milkshakes and classic cheeseburgers, then sun themselves like indigenous walruses in the grass. It's easy to see why: Franklin Square is a pleasant, family-oriented park in city that would otherwise choose to shoot you for no reason, tax you inappropriately, and/or arrest you with a made-up warrant. For a minute we can forget our worries and enjoy a sunny day and a burger. Well, at least some people enjoy the burger. The rest probably just eat it because it is there and is marginally better than most fast food.

The Burger: I've never understood the concept of “comfort food.” It's a synonym for “bad,” right? So when a burger shack professes comfort food, I only think of cholesterol comforting your lonely arteries. Anyway, as part of the “comfort” SquareBurger relies on a store-bought potato roll, a slice of American cheese, pickles, onions, and generic ketchup and mustard, all enveloping a 4 oz. patty.

Photo of the burger at SquareBurger

Laurence: Like Starr and this burger, I subscribe to the laws of mathematics in daily life and so I will use mathematical concepts to derive this burger's rating.

Firstly, because it is a burger (i.e., it exists), we know that the score of the burger must be a positive real number. The burger is indeed made by human hands. I watched them do it, even though by blind taste test I would have though it came in a perfect frozen disc from the good people at Burgers 'R' Us.

While the fries are indeed frozen they are a high-quality take on a frozen french fry and are probably the best part of the meal, if you don't count the milkshakes.

Despite being actual meat sculpted into a patty and lovingly grilled by a 22 year-old, fresh-out-of-college mathematician wearing a T-shirt reading “Fuck Your Burger Eating Face,” the final burger was packaged and pressed into a flat burger-like amalgamation. Basic geometry tells us that an object that is flat has no volume and so, unless you are a Breatharian, a volume-less meal cannot be fulfilling. We can logically deduce that a non-filling meal is indeed below average and since our scale extends to 10, we know that this burger cannot have a score greater than five.

Despite it's many flaws this burger has some flavors. They are not the flavors of meat, cheese or even bread. The prominent flavors of this burger are:

  1. Mustard
  2. Ketchup
  3. Pickle
  4. Onion
  5. Nothing

While an excellent burger can be more than the sum of its parts, a sub-par burger is indeed nothing more than the sum of its parts. If we add a single point for each flavor we arrive at the number four.

But the power of a burger comes from the meat. So without the flavor of the meat the burger has no power. We thus have shown that the current score is equal to one because any number raised to the power of zero is one (x0 = 1).

Multiply this score by the Universal Enjoyment Factor of sitting in the sun, fat with milkshakes, fries and something that is technically a burger, and you arrive at 16. Things are looking up for SquareBurger.

But if we invoke Kepler's Law of Condiments“no meal can be composed of more than ¼ condiment” – we see that the flavors of this meal are 100% condiment and we now see that it is only one quarter of a meal and deserves only one quarter of the points. We are left with a nice even four, which is coincidentally the same number of sides that this square burger does not have.

And finally, let us not forget that while a square is always a rectangle, a rectangle is not always a square, and that while a burger from SquareBurger is always a burger a good burger is never a SquareBurger. QED. Rating 4/10.

Photo of the burger at SquareBurger

Kyle: Stephen Starr is like the Mandarin to Jose Garces' Iron Man: not because Starr is Garces' nemesis, but because he's a shitty character. To say they are enemies is also untrue because the two aren't even competing: Iron Man invents awesome while Stevie apes an Epcot-esque magical realism version of culture. For example, take each restauranteur's interpretation on fast food: Iron Man recently unveiled the delightfully-named Guapos Tacos, while last year, Starr dropped the L7-bomb SquareBurger.

Much as I like to drink the Starr haterade, he has impressed me in the past, which only makes me hate him more; if America has taught me anything, it's that hatred is a dish best served completely unfounded. So you can imagine my delight when I saw the anemic, McChainrestaurant-worthy slab in front of me. The first words in my notebook are "Used Maxipad?" which best describes the burger's appearance, although the well-done burger certainly has less blood, as well as inferior absorbency and odor control.

Speaking of being well done, let's talk about your burger options at SquareBurger: you don't get them. You get no choice in toppings, you get no choice in temperature. The only choice you get is to go somewhere else to eat, which I wholly recommend.

In describing the flavors, my notes include mentions of mustard, and ketchup, and onion, and pickle, and potato bread. Do you know what I couldn't taste? The burger. While it certainly had the texture of beef, it was bland and without flavor. The entire sandwich merely served as a conduit for the condiments, but toppings are intended to enhance a meal's flavor, not substitute for it. If I really wanted to taste ketchup and mustard that badly, I'd pour them straight down my throat and save myself $5. Yes, it's cheap, and you may ask, "What do you expect for $5?" This.

There's nothing at SquareBurger for me to recommend. That's not to say there's nothing positive to say about it, because the milkshake was decent and the french fries reminded me of Boardwalk Fries, but neither are worth going out of your way to get, while the burger is worth going out of your way to avoid. Still, some good came out of all of this, in that it lets me finally give Starr a shitty review. Take that, Mandarin. There's a reason you're not in the Iron Man movies. (It's because you're chubby.) Rating: 4/10.


So you're in Franklin Square and you're hungry. Well, we can't stop you I suppose. Though in all honesty, get some fries and a shake and walk over to Chinatown for a real meal.

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