With two of my parents hailing from the once mighty city of Flint, Michigan, I spent much of my upbringing in Flint and hearing about the mighty Halo Burger. My step-dad even celebrated his 60th at Halo Burger (although I was out of the country at the time). Yet, until my return home to Michigan last weekend, I had never once set foot into one of these fabled local fast food joints. But enter I finally did and was impressed by what I found.
Halo Burger began as Kewpee burgers way back in 1923, and the success of those first burgers spawned the eleven current locations in the Flint area as the company was built up by Bill Thomas. Clearly a burger that has lasted so long must be good. Like many fast food places, their burgers come with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion. But people also love another veggie, olives, on their Halo Burgers. I wanted none of these and settled upon their Beefy Double Cheese combo. This burger had double cheese, double patty and even an extra bun bottom in the middle of the beef. I got mine with ketchup only and it also came with fries and a drink.
The fast food was ready soon enough, but I realized I had forgotten to order one of their Boston Coolers (like a root beer float but with ginger ale instead of root beer). Seeing as I was in Michigan, the home of the best ginger ale in the world (Vernors, invented in 1866), this was a travesty. But my mom came through in the clutch and I was able to taste some of her delicious ice cream drink.
But back to the burger. This thing was brought out in a small styrofoam box that screamed, “environmental crisis” and when I opened it up, I found a burger of beauty. I bit in and tasted something familiar. Something similar to another somewhat regionally limited fast food burger chain. These weren’t some paper-thin terrible frozen patties with strange crunch bites in them. Why, this burger tasted a hell of a lot like In-N-Out burger, and that’s a compliment. Known throughout the west as a great fast food burger, In-N-Out has a hugely loyal following and Halo Burger has quite the following of its own. The difference is that In-N-Out is in the sunny, beautiful west coast, while Halo Burger resides in gloomy, depressing Flint. But make no mistake, this is a burger of the highest fast food quality predating almost everything in the west and is sure to please anyone in need of a good fast food burger. The little bun the middle was the only real noticeable difference, and after a few bites that thing squeezed down to being almost indistinguishable in the grand scheme of the burger. In fact, tucked under the bottom patty visible in the picture is another patty of equal size, making the burger plenty meaty.
It may not have a cutesy secret menu, but Halo Burger serves up something that In-N-Out is truly unable to compete with: fries that don’t taste like ass. Yes, In-N-Out fries are terrible, but Halo’s fries are actually quite good. Not only are they thicker than your average fast food fry, they also have a great crisp that makes you actually want to eat more rather than down a glass of pop after each bite.
These days, Flint may not have a whole lot to offer the world, but Halo Burger is still a shiny beacon of burger in a once-proud city. And if Halo Burger keeps churning out those tasty burgers, they will surely continue shining when Flint rises again. As they say, “Seven days without a Halo Burger makes one weak!”