The Whataburger honey butter chicken biscuit is, at its core, the request of a town drunk who foolishly uses one of his genie bottle wishes to conjure up a sandwich. You don’t crave one so much as you hallucinate it floating in an alley. It is a warm, sweet, and ethereal vision. The honey butter is a delicious emulsion of cheap nectar and liquified fat that is sure to coat your fingertips and raise an eyebrow if it gets on your pants. The biscuit itself is soft and cozy; the chicken substantial and tender. This beloved sandwich is both a great achievement and a horrible mistake. It’s a quintessential heavy breakfast, the type of food that cures a tragic hangover while quietly ensuring you will crave many, many more.
If you’ve ever passed through Texas on a seven- or eight-hour drive, chances are you’ve encountered the bright orange, ecclesiastical architecture of a Whataburger. The iconic A-frame design resembles the base of a steeple for a reason: Whataburger is something of a cult. People swear by it, fiercely. They champion its story, its quality (fresh beef, never a pink slime scandal), its great advertising, and they compare its product to another regional juggernaut, In-N-Out, for a reason: It’s damn good.
Whataburger has much to offer the fast food universe. The liberal use of Texas toast is a breath of fresh air in a world of sesame seed buns and potato rolls. The thick, two-handed burgers hold up even in the midst of a nationwide smash burger craze. Whataburger creates combinations that you never knew you wanted but now realize you can’t live without, like sawmill gravy with chicken tenders, breakfast taquitos with sausage, egg, and cheese, patty melts with grilled onions, and, if it’s in season, a Hatch green chile bacon burger.
Still, the honey butter chicken biscuit is what symbolizes Whataburger the best. This “breakfast” sandwich (famously available 11 p.m. to 11 a.m.) encompasses all the phases of youth. The sandwich sticks to the roof of your mouth the same way that a PB&J would. It’s warm and heavy and cozy, like that special, all-in Saturday morning breakfast cooked by your mom. But it’s also the thing you eat right before you drunkenly pass out at 3 a.m. on some stranger’s couch, capping off another weekend of bar-hopping in your twenties. The honey butter chicken biscuit is more than just junk food: it’s a total act of rebellion against the responsibilities of adulthood. There’s something beautiful about meals we deem hangover cures: Indulgence, in reasonable doses, is a way to preserve youth.
Recently, I went through Whataburger and got a honey butter chicken biscuit. I was sober, and it was 8 a.m. I think it was probably the first time I had one not while totally, ripshit drunk. I’m sure there are lots of people who associate the honey butter chicken biscuit with a memory that isn’t getting absolutely hammered on 6th Street in Austin, Texas. But for me, it’ll always represent getting wasted at a dive bar, bumming cigarettes off the door guy, and heading back to some crummy apartment to continue onward.