Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
People get so sensitive about burgers.
Some burger brands are apparently cool, while others are sneered at like the ugliest politicians of the opposing party.
Somehow, In-N-Out has managed to maintain its stylish status, while so many pretenders have wafted across its bows.
The California-based chain is quiet and discerning, even if it serves some of its burgers animal-style.
Some might wonder, though, how it'll respond to the likely incursion into its territories of a new, terrifying competitor.
You see, last week saw a controversial transaction that had many burger-lovers screeching like fervent vegans in a sausage factory.
The Texas-based Whataburger chain was sold to BDT Capital Partners LLC.
This was the culinary equivalent of selling the Dallas Cowboys to an ownership group headed by California Governor Gavin Newsom. Or Carrot Top.
Whataburger, you see, is what some consider as In-N-Out's equivalent. There are even those who believe it's better than In-N-Out.
BDT Capital Partners is a merchant bank. I'm not sure whether it's the In-N-Out of merchant banks, but I do know it's a merchant bank based in Chicago.
What do Chicagoans know about burgers?
There are precisely no Whataburgers in Illinois.
Naturally, then, Whataburger worshippers in Texas voiced their desperate anger at this betrayal -- even though Whataburger is already in 9 other states.
Naturally, the irate went to the one place they would be heard: Twitter.
Famed Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt(aburger), for example, was aghast.
Ok, I say we all chip in and buy Whataburger back. Make honey butter chicken biscuits available all day, add kolaches to the menu and change nothing else. Especially not the ketchup. https://t.co/HadutHXJ9l-- JJ Watt (@JJWatt) June 14, 2019
Watt is from Wisconsin. Where there are no Whataburgers.
For his part, Whataburger's President and CEO Preston Atkinson could see this angst on the horizon.
An open letter to our beloved fans: pic.twitter.com/3pVjZ7zmKc-- Whataburger (@Whataburger) June 14, 2019
Yet he explained:
Whataburger has grown significantly over the years. And, in order to keep satisfying our customers, we've been exploring different options to expand the brand and introduce it to new audiences. We've gone through this process purposefully and diligently because we wanted to find a partner who honors our values, culture and 69-year legacy of family tradition.
And who offered us ungodly amounts of money, some will sniff.
You must decide whether any merchant bank -- even a relatively recondite one like BDT Capital Partners -- can honor such quaint aspects as values, culture and a long family tradition.
The serially skeptical might suspect that merchant banks tend to honor bucks, bucks and, preferably, fast ones.
Which would suggest that Whataburger will roll out nationally and with a menu that's garlanded with a little less Texas-y esctasy.
We're talking here about the 22nd largest fast-food chain in America. We're also talking about a chain that has the second-highest sales per restaurant in the fast-food world.
Behind, naturally, Chick-fil-A.
For the burghers of America's Burgerville, therefore, this may be a chance to enjoy a Whataburger in their own locale and see why some people seem to lose their emotional marbles over it.
For In-N-Out, of course, this will be just another day at the grill.
It's seen everything from Super Duper to Shake Shack drift its way and still seems to be doing alright.
Indeed, In-N-Out is extremely deliberate about everything it does.
Yes, it too will expand. But only at the pace of a weed-smoking tortoise.
But what if Whataburger suddenly captures, say, Californian hearts and stomachs?
Would Texans ever be able to cope?