Jeff Vrabel: White Castle candles are what Americans crave

Jeff Vrabel

A few years ago, upmarket luxury merchant Burger King launched its very own men's fragrance, one designed to approximate the iconic BK odor, which is to say a char-broiled hork of theoretical meat patty that was flash-frozen in a Beijing agricultural facility in 1997 and brought via oil tanker or donkey or whatever to thousands of Burger Kings all over the South's interstate highway exits. (Just kidding, Burger King, you know I heart you and your Croissan'wiches. Let's never fight again.)

Anyway, the BK cologne thing was called Flame, and we all laughed at it, because it turns out that Americans will put up with a lot of things, including Jay Leno, but attempting to purposefully smell like a restaurant you visit only mostly it's across from the gas station is not chief among them. This country is being torn to pieces by jeez, I can't even remember, taxes, President Kenya, immigration and the planet, which is pretty much emptying its playbook of highly metaphoric natural disasters, but all ages and demographics found BK Flame to be a most displeasing proposition, especially since you could buy a double-cheeseburger for 99 cents and rub it all of your flesh for essentially the same olfactory effect.

But when it came right down to it, Burger King's pioneering entry into the fragrance market failed for one clear reason: Burger King is no White Castle.

Indeed, White Castle earlier this month announced the launch of its very own scented candles, an absolutely legitimate product that has the goal of spreading White Castle love while making your house smell pretty much like a delightful combination of abandoned onions and my grandparents' kitchen.

Now, before we go any further, I'd like to note that THIS WAS ENTIRELY MY IDEA. In 2008, when writing about the BK Flame fiasco, I published IN PRINT this sentence: "If you’re going to base a cologne around a fast-food franchise, either go with White Castle or don’t go at all." YEAH. See, that's maybe the most valuable notion about print: IT IS ALWAYS THERE. It's not like you can scrub away evidence like you did with my Moon Landing Was A Hoax blog post, China Google.

Some background, if you've never been drunk in northwest Indiana at 1:45 a.m.: White Castle is a fast-food superpower that sells small, fun-sized hamburgers at the reasonable price of $4.99 for a million. You can eat two to 30 of them at a time, depending on how much mashing you can accomplish and how much you are Joey Chestnut. White Castle may very well offer other foods, but no one knows about them; frankly they could begin tomorrow offering beignets, filet mignon and a nice chicken florentine dish and no one would give a toot, because if you are walking into White Castle you are doing so for one purpose only: Without food, you'll die.

Anyway, the candles are being sold in restaurants and on the company's website, and in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I'm following the latest slider-candle developments via the official White Castle Twitter page, which is the first legitimate use for the Internet ever (seriously: The Twitter is right this very minute assuring crazed, zombie-eyed White Castle aficionados/obsessives/future cardiac patients that though the candles are currently SOLD OUT (high-five, America!) there is now a waiting list being assembled for people who need to be notified the VERY MINUTE the, um, candle-making machine is switched back on.

Wait a minute — look at this website, you can buy White Castle water bottles, White Castle Custom Accessories, White Castle gift cards (for that special lady). You can also buy a White Castle air freshener, which is philosophically impossible. Why have I never before seen the White Castle website? How many Christmases have I spent at the stupid mall or animal shelter when the answer has been right here, dripping virtual grease in my face the whole time? Attention family: CHRISTMAS 2010 WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.

Jeff Vrabel does not follow any other fast-food restaurants on Twitter; yeah, I said it, Whataburger. He can be reached at and followed at