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Stop! In the Name of Grub

It’s the evening dinner rush at Burger Boy in Caribou, and the place is packed. After a long winter, it recently reopened for the spring and summer season. Now, the sounds and smells of a sizzling grill are bringing in salivating locals like devotees on a pilgrimage to a holy land.

Thanks to a recent facelift, if you were to crash Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean into the diamond-plate exterior you’d swear you’d gone back to the ‘60s and the birth of Burger Boy. It’s downright retro.

From their appointment on the wall, Dion and The Belmonts lament the trials of teenage love. Elvis eyeballs your date from atop his Harley. Booths are accompanied by vintage coin-op music players. The past bleeds in and drips down the walls to the black-and-white checkered floors.

Now, the important stuff: Burger Boy trades in traditional American fare—burgers, seafood, hot dogs (yes, the red ones), and milkshakes. There’s also a side dish you’ll probably only find within spitting distance of Canada, and that’s poutine. Fries, gravy and cheese. The basics.

When they bark out your order (“order 105!”), it’s time to eat.

Like a viper, you might have to unhinge your jaw to make room for fresh (never frozen) beef burgers in generous portions. Dessert makes its way to your table. You find a single spoon left in the bin at the counter to enjoy your ice cream (with a cherry on top). Must mean it’s popular. 

As mud season turns to summer, the muddy pickups in the parking lot will be replaced with immaculate vintage rides, a nostalgic, alluring distraction on Caribou’s Sweden Street. Those curves. The way the light strikes the metal. White walled tires like brides’ garters. Can’t you hear “Unchained Melody” from some distant jukebox?

As the expansion of the universe gains speed, it makes sense to recall a time when things like food, music and cars reflected craftsmanship—a time before mass automation and disposable everything became ubiquitous. Burger Boy is a reminder that Americana’s flavor can still get us drunk on nostalgia, and that’s a good thing. Delicious, too.

As your visit ends, there’s still a line at the front counter. The place has about 10 tables. Some are pushed together to accommodate a party of seven. It’s tight. If you’re planning on going, get there early.

In the evenings, Burger Boy’s neon street sign bursts to life with an excited red arrow pointing you in the direction of the past. It’s time to take a break. Tell the present to take a hike, and eat a burger.

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