The Daily Item
Published: Sunday, May 8, 2011
Money Section, D4, Page 1 and 2
By Jennifer Botchie, Freelance Reporter
Restaurant Tries To Recreate Burger
Say "Biff-Burger" to many Valley residents and it sparks a wave of nostalgia.
The fast-food joint in Hummels Wharf, open from 1965 to 2001, was the site of many favorite memories, from childhood treats to teenage socializing to special family times.
"I think most of us here that work in the kitchen and stuff, we all remember the Biff-Burger, we all were customers for sure," said Katy Wendt, owner of Wendt's Pork Palace, Route 522, Penn Township. "Biff-Burger definitely was a big deal when we were teenagers, early 20s."
Probably the most well-remembered element of the Biff-Burger was its sauce, a tangy blend of 27 spices into which burgers were dipped before being served.
And it's that nostalgic taste that lives on in hte "Saucy Burger", a new offering from Wendt's Pork Palace.
"I don't know if it's technically the official recipe. A customer of ours came in and recommended it," Wendt said. "He said he had the recipe, and we said 'bring it in, we'll try it.' So we whipped up a batch here in the kitchen and had a bunch of folks sample it. People said it was really close to it."
Connie Erdley, a long-time area resident, recently tried out the Saucey Burger after hearing it replicated the Biff-Burger sauce. She has fond memories of trips to Biff-Burger after family bowling nights and other outings throughout her childhood and teen years,
She and her husband, Joe, thought the Pork Palace's offering was pretty near the mark.
"The sauce tastes very similar," Erdley said. "But the charbroiled taste of the burger interfered with the sauce. Biff-Burger cooked their burgers a different way, so that char you taste (on the Saucy Burger) isn't quite the same. But it's close."
Erdley had one suggestion to improve the Saucey Burger, or at least to make it more like the Biff-Burger. "They need to dredge the burger through the sauce so it's covered top, bottom and sides," she said. "The sauce should drip out the sides when you bite into it. You should be able to suck up the extra sauce that shoots out the sides."
This undated photo of Biff-Burger in Hummels Wharf, which appeared in a newspaper, was provided by Doug Sprenkle, of Selinsgrove.
[ biff-burger.com believes this photo is dated between 1972, when the dining room addition was added after Hurricane Agnes and 1974, prior to the old sign being struck by lightning and replaced. Note: the middle portion of the roadsign which normally contained the blue semi-shield and the yellow diamond with the current burger price was never installed. However, the sign did have the traditional lighted "Satellite" or "Star" ball located on its top! ]
This was not the first time Wendt thought to offer an homage to the Biff-Burger. She said that she asked a former owner (the last owners were Cam and Linda Forrey) for the recipe about five years ago, but "she wouldn't give it."
But Christopher Catherman, a self-described Biff-Burger fan, historian, and creator of "The Original Biff-Burger Drive-In" website (biff-burger.com) says the sauce is available for purchase in several Virginia and North Carolina stores - remnants of the Biff-Burger franchise chain that once stretched from Florida to Canada - and a few websites. Catherman offers two recipes on his site, one for small batches and one for larger batches.
No matter where the recipe came from, the Saucey Burger has proved popular with locals who remember Biff-burger. Wendt's is also offering the Curly Dog, another item from the Biff-Burger menu - it's a hot dog cut in such a fashion that it curls into a circle and is served on a hamburger bun.
The Curly Dog has done all right, Wendt said, but it's the Saucey Burger that has really taken off.
"It's been a big hit, absolutely," said Wendt. "We've done it now for about six weeks and every day each week we have more and more sales.
"It's a way to honor the history," she added. "We all loved Biff-Burger."