The Hamburglar. Part corporate invention, part hard core thief, this Prometheus of the picnic has been an enigma since he first burst onto the scene with McDonald’s. His hamburger thievery is the stuff of legends, something we will not see the likes of again. He brazenly stole a hamburger from the Yakuza. He pilfered a patty from the Pope. He even stole a burger from a kid in Reno, “just to watch him cry.” The self-proclaimed “Bad Boy of Beef” was at the top of the food chain, as it were, in the 80s, and his cocaine-fueled binges of burglary have come to symbolize Reagan-era material excess. After his break from McDonald’s, Hamburglar sadly went afoul of the law once too often, and was sentenced to seven years in San Quentin for stealing a hamburger out of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Humvee. He granted EP a rare interview request, and I caught up with him last month.
EP: How did you get started in the business of stealing hamburgers?
Hamburglar: I wish I had some great reason why, but it just kind of happened. I was 13 years old, pretending to be Zorro and was wearing this mask. Well, I forgot to take it off when I went to McDonald’s for lunch and the lady at the counter thought I was robbing her. She just gave me five Quarter Pounder’s. After that I was hooked.
EP: Didn’t you ever get caught?
Hamburglar: Yeah, but mostly people thought it was funny and ‘cause I was a kid they let me off easy.
EP: When did you begin your formal association with McDonald’s?
Hamburglar: I was 16 years old and snuck into a local McD’s and swiped two Big Macs. I got violently ill and had to go to the hospital, presumably from food poisoning. Some lawyer from McDonald’s told me if I didn’t sue they would sign me to a contract and employ me with some other characters. And so, it began. Joke was on them; I later realized I got sick from huffing rubber cement, but was so f’d up I didn’t remember.
EP: What was it like working with the other characters?
Hamburglar: At first we were tight. Grimace was hilarious, after a day of shooting commercials and we would head straight to the nearest nightclub. He’d order Hennessey and yell “Big Poppa is in the house!!!!!” whenever we arrived. After a couple years of doing this, Notorious B.I.G. came out with the song, “Big Poppa.” Grimace loved it. Said he got laid more after that song came out than all the years before combined. He made McDonald’s give Biggie free Big Macs whenever he wanted. They were even working on a project together before Biggie’s tragic death. Ronald McDonald was another story. We all hated him and called him Ronald McDouchebag. Also, the mother fucker was a vegetarian, which is one of McDonald’s great secrets. We’d all be eating Quarter-Pounders and fries and there he would be, sitting in a corner eating tofu wrapped in lettuce. Also, between takes he’d sit around smoking weed and saying shit like, “I wonder if the girl from Wendy’s is real. I dig redheads.” We once saw him staring into a mirror for 30 minutes, he kept saying, “Dude, I look like a clown.”
EP: How rampant was the drug use?
Hamburglar: It was wild, man. We never let it affect our work, though. When the cameras were on, we were all business.
EP: When did you break from McDonalds?
Hamburglar: It was about 10 years ago. Turns out some corporate jackass decided it was a bad idea to encourage hamburger thievery. So they came up with this brilliant idea to make me a vegetarian and use that to market their new McVegetarian Crap Burger. I told them to fuck themselves and left. I do miss having their lawyers cover for me. (laughs)
EP: And after you left McDonald’s you kept on stealing.
Hamburglar: Of course. By then it was in my blood. My new goal was to steal a burger from every decent burger joint in these here United States. I did pretty well with it, even went into action in Japan when I stole a Kobe beef burger in Kyoto. Turns out it was from a big time Yakuza boss. I was lucky as hell to get out of Japan alive.
EP: Tell me about your biggest hamburger heist.
Hamburglar: That has to be the 2003 raid of the In and Out Burger in LA near Magic Mountain. It all started when George Clooney, Bernie Mac, Matt Damon and I were jonesin’ for In and Out Burger at 3 AM. Of course they were closed, but we drew up this crazy-ass plan to disable the alarm system and break in. It was easy, man, we cooked up and chowed down 20 burgers between the four of us. We barely got out in time, and the best part of the story is that the whole thing got pinned on Mel Gibson.
EP: Didn’t you steal a burger from Bobby Flay once?
Hamburglar: (Laughs) Hell yes I did! Ivanka Trump and I were eating at this pretentious $14 burger joint with cloth napkins in New York, when I hear this obnoxious jackass (Flay) preening about how the chipotle mayo they used on his burger sucked and that his was soooooo much better. Well, I thought to myself, if you don’t like the burger then I’m going to steal it from you, dickwad. So I ditched Ivanka, who hates me now, snuck over to his table, snatched the burger and took off faster than Usain Bolt. The worst part was that once I was safely out of range, I noticed that he (Flay) had taken a couple of bites out of the burger and it grossed me out. I gave it to some homeless guy.
EP: Did he like the chipotle mayo?
Hamburglar: He did. He said it was a “revelation.”
EP: Have you ever tried to steal someone’s hamburger while you’ve been in prison?
Hamburglar: No way. Someone’s liable to stick you for that. Besides, the crap they serve in here isn’t worth stealing.
EP: What happens when you get out, will you be able to refrain from stealing hamburgers?
Hamburglar: Sure. I’m past those days now, not worth ending up back in the joint. When I get out, I’m supposed to be in a reality show called “Steal my Heart” where 15 women vie for my affection. Ryan Seacrest set the whole thing up, mostly to keep me silent because I know what his one sick fetish is. It was either that or host a game show, which is pretty freaking stupid if you ask me. Besides, if Snoop Dogg can quit smoking weed, I can surely quit stealing hamburgers.
I left him at the prison after a few more minutes of conversation. I didn’t have the heart to tell him Snoop was smoking weed again. As I watched him led back to his cell, I couldn’t help but feel we as society had discarded him after he outlived his usefulness, as much a victim of corporate malfeasance and globalization as an itinerant farmer in Zambia. I stopped at In and Out Burger on the way home and realized that none of us are made of stone. It could have been any one of us who turned into a hamburger plundering criminal. I hope he gets out without getting a shank in the kidney. I hope his reality show is a success, and that none of us EVER find out what Ryan Seacrest’s one sick fetish is, I hope he can see his friends again. I hope…