Earlier this month, Japanese Burger King rolled out their special new menu item. No, it’s not a new type of hot sauce or some frightful hotdog pizza concoction (we’re looking at you, Pizza Hut).
It a flaming red colored bun, with matching bright red cheese and sauce, all enveloping either a burger or chicken breast. Allegedly, Burger King is not stuffing the cheese and sauce full of food coloring. The color is achieved by infusing the cheese with tomato paste and the sauce with miso paste mixed with Chinese chili bean sauce and red pepper.
The red burgers will be on sale at about 60 BK locations across Japan until about mid-August.
This seems to be a follow-up from their successful campaign from a few years ago, where they rolled out black buns with black cheese and black sauce. This rendition was colored with bamboo charcoal, while the garlic sauce was colored with squid ink.
Jay Hathaway over a Gawker did a great review of eating the black burger. Unsurprisingly, like any other fast food the burger is not exactly as robust looking in real life as the billboard images. The sauce is especially murky looking. The bun was exactly as advertised: just super, super black. Hathaway writes, “it absorbed all light. There may have been an event horizon hidden somewhere within it. A man could lose a not-insignificant part of his soul in there and not realize it until months later.”
A little morbid feeling for a hamburger bun.
But that may be because of American cultural conditioning. Americans associate the dark color with death and morbidity, and so black food may look spoiled, dead, and inedible. But according to Eva Hyatt, a food preferences expert and marketing professor at Appalachian State University, the same isn’t true in Japanese culture.
In Japan, the color white is associated with death, and on top that, Hyatt points out that Japanese people “are used to eating black seaweed, fermented black bean-paste-based foods, black walnut powder, squid ink, and a lot of gray, muted-colored foods, so a black burger bun and cheese would not seem too alien to them.”
Would you try the Samurai burger? We’re feeling very American when we look at that black burger — something about the color just seems eerie! We’d definitely try the red burger before chowing down on the squid ink special.