Who is MrBeast?
Ambitious is the best word to describe Jimmy Donaldson (aka MrBeast), the 22 year-old viral YouTube content creator whose online stunts are a combination of philanthropy and over-the-top antics. One of his most recent feats involved purchasing an $800,000 island and giving it away to one of his lucky subscribers. He’s also known for buying out entire grocery stores and giving the food to those in need. In November, he once again donned his MrBeast persona and hosted an official pop-up drive-through burger joint located near his hometown, during which residents received free food, random prizes and cash. When he noticed how popular the food was, a lightbulb went off.
Donaldson decided to turn his eye to the culinary industry.
He recently made a serious foray into the restaurant business by opening a whopping 300 burger joints overnight. If you think this is outside the realm of possibility, you don’t know MrBeast. By partnering with local restaurants across the country, many of which are struggling amidst the current pandemic, the North Carolina native is on a mission to throw a lifeline to a reeling industry.
An Industry-Saving Burger
The restaurant concept is a tad misleading; the food delivery apps make it appear as though MrBeast Burger is a brick-and-mortar location. It is not; you're not going to be able to physically visit a MrBeast burger joint because it’s a virtual dining concept—an idea that is starting to catch on as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Currently, the industrious YouTuber is partnering with Virtual Dining Concepts, which in turn is working with a slew of Italian chain restaurants, including Brio Grille and Bertucci’s, across the United States to serve as prep kitchens. The official MrBeast Burger site is even accepting applications from restaurants interested in becoming burger-flipping 'brand operators'. Prepared orders are then delivered via apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats.
This could be a potential game-changer for restaurants that are attempting to navigate the landscape of ever-changing pandemic restrictions and lockdowns. The additional revenue stream that comes as a result of becoming a MrBeast Burger partner could help keep restaurants afloat at a time when they need it most. By agreeing to operate a second brand from their slowed-down kitchens, independent and chain restaurateurs may avoid shuttering altogether.
Good Taste or Gimmick?
YouTube stunts and philanthropic intentions aside, the moment of truth lay in the taste test. While MrBeast Burger’s focus is on the smashed griddle burgers, the concise menu also includes fried chicken sandwiches, a grilled cheese sandwich, crinkle fries, a chocolate chip cookie, and a few basic canned sodas.
The order arrived in a simple brown paper bag branded with MrBeast logo stickers; it looked a little pranky and I half expected a geyser of confetti to explode upon opening. But it must be said, the double-patty smashed burger was pretty close to perfection — the griddle-crisp edges had a nice char and the raw, diced onions and pickles added a contrasting crunch. However, the hefty burger’s juices proved too much for the soft potato roll that quickly turned into a soggy sponge halfway through eating it, but even that was a forgivable offence. The crinkle fries were also an unexpected delight thanks to a generous sprinkling of spicy red pepper, garlic, paprika, sugar, and lime. The spice blend was reminiscent of Tajín, the Mexican chile seasoning that is often used to season and bring out the flavour of fresh fruit.
Was it the best burger I’ve had? No, but it tasted far better than I expected. A few tweaks and MrBeast could very well catapult his gimmicky brand into the upper echelons of burger greatness; and, of course, the collaborative effort that will likely provide much-needed assistance to the restaurant industry lends an air of legitimacy to the project.
Any fan of MrBeast knows that his stunts tend to have a short shelf life, as is the nature of the lightning-fast online world of YouTube. So, who knows how long MrBeast’s burger obsession will last? It has the potential to become something long-term (or at least lasting through the current health crisis as a temporary support system to flailing restaurants). Hopefully, the project will prove to be more than its virality.
The only real disappointment was, given MrBeast’s tendency to engage in outrageous monetary stunts, there wasn’t a stack of dollar bills included in the order.