With Christmas around the corner, I’ve been breaking out my Whataburger ugly Christmas sweater. It’s a shame that this COVID-19 pandemic has taken over the world because I could see it being a great laugh at a holiday party. Anyway, that brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: Whataburger.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across Whataburger in November 2004. I had met a fellow airman on MilitaryVibes. She was stationed down at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach. After a couple of days of exchanging private messages on the forum, she invited me to come hang out with her for a weekend. The 36-year-old version of Juan probably would’ve hard passed on that but the 20-year-old version of Juan was still a little crushed about being dumped in favor of a drug dealer so I ended up making that 4-hour drive. It was actually a pretty good weekend. It was my first time in that part of Florida and she was a great host. We ended up going to one of the nightclubs down there and afterward, we stopped at this burger spot with this huge orange W out front. It was Whataburger. We went in, ordered food, sat down, and ate. And that’s pretty much how I was introduced to Whataburger.
What it meant to me then? At that time, I was very committed to Wendy’s as far as fast food went so I immediately measured it up against what I normally got there. Whataburger blew it out of the park. I was definitely impressed…so much so that I copped Whataburger for 3 straight days during my 4 days down there. We didn’t have any Whataburger locations in the Valdosta area but there were plenty in the area of responsibility for the Moody AFB Honor Guard. There was also a location not far from my father’s home in Birmingham. I always found myself at the drive-thru at the Birmingham location and convincing my Honor Guard teammates to stop through after we wrapped up funeral details. Whataburger meant a lot to me. It’s like Aunjanue Ellis’ In Too Deep character once said: “when you find something you like and it’s good, you wanna keep it”.
What it means to me now? The last time I had Whataburger was back in August when I visited Birmingham. I ordered a Patty Melt Whatameal and that beef patty on the Texas toast was good for the soul. It elicited memories of times past and all of the good food I got at Whataburger. I miss it. I wish we had them along the Eastern Seaboard. There is definitely a market here for them. Until that happens, I’ll continue to frequent the spots down south.