Why Is There a Pickle on Top of My Bun?

There is a pickle on top of my bun. What is the meaning of this?

During my recent trip to Illinois, I decided to check out Culver’s, a pretty infamous fast food chain famous for their concrete milkshakes, cheese curds, and butter burgers. (If you think a concrete milkshake sounds delicious, you’re not alone. I, for one, think it sounds like it’d have catastrophic consequences, intestinally.)

Even though I lived in Illinois for three years and had heard many great things about Culver’s (mostly about their cheese curds), I was a vegetarian for that entire time. But, luckily for me (and for you), in April 2016 I decided to return to meat eating — but that’s a story for another time. Long story short, I ordered a single bacon butter burger meal, complete with soda and fries, walked to my booth, made sure my number was visible, and waited for my delicious midwestern feast to arrive.

But as soon as the waitress brought me my burger, my facial expression turned from one of excitement to one of confusion — maybe even a little bit of shock. On top of my bun was nothing other than a stray pickle slice. “Hm. Okay,” I thought, and tossed the pickle aside without care. “Must have been an accident.”

Only it was no accident.

As soon as my friend’s order arrived, how wrong I had been. What else would we find on top of his burger than — you guessed it — a mother-fucking pickle.

What was this blasphemy? What were the chances that two stray pickles would land atop our separate burgers, arriving minutes apart? I string of thoughts ran themselves through my brain.

“What am I supposed to do with this bun pickle? Am I supposed to eat it? Tuck it inside my burger with its pickel brothers and sisters? Maybe it’s to cleanse my palate? Maybe it’s to warn me of evil things to come? WHAT IS THIS PICKLE OMEN?!?!”

All I know is that I want answers, and I want them now.

I discovered that I’m not the only one curious about the elusive bun pickle. And quite frankly, there seems to be a good deal of debate about whether or not having a pickle on top of a burger bun is weird or not. Apparently in the Midwest, the bun pickle is a staple. Users from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, and Illinois state that they always get a bun pickle when eating at Culver’s. Even someone from the east coast of Canada states that a pickle on the bun isn’t so weird at all.

But shit gets a little complicated.

One user from Florida chimes in and says their bun was pickle-less, but instead the sour green discs were placed inside the burger, underneath the patty. This got me wondering, has anyone ever gotten pickles on top of the bun, but not inside? What’s the standard here?

Reading through the Reddit thread, I only found one worth answer (ignoring one from a Culver’s employee stating that the pickle on top is the “seal of approval,” per the Butter Burger University regulations) — the pickle is placed delicately on top of each burger in order to signify that pickles are inside. It’s like a little “PICKLES LIE WITHIN. ENTER WITH CAUTION” sign.

But under that logic, shouldn’t they do that with every condiment they put on the burger? Should the pickle be accompanied by a tiny dollop of ketchup? A sliver of onion? Shit, why not even go a step further and just create a tiny, doll-sized burger on top of the human-sized one? That way you’d really know what was inside. All I’m saying is, where did this bun pickle tradition stem from? More importantly, why is it only in the Midwest, and why does it seem so strange to my Californian mind? There are so many questions left unanswered here.

What once was a single pickle atop each bun has now become this: the meta burger.

FInally, I want to know what the standard is for bun pickles at Culver’s. What’s the deal? When one orders a Culver’s bacon deluxe, where should we expect our pickles — on top, inside, or nowhere to be found at all? Do other Midwest fast-food joints adopt the bun pickle, too? The burger eaters of the internet’s West Coast demand justice.

Where do YOU prefer your pickles?

If you live in an area where pickles on top of hamburger buns is common, I want to hear about it! Leave a comment below detailing your preferred pickle placement.