The fancy burger trend has been overdone for years. Cool, this burger has a poached egg on it, that one has an onion ring, this one is coated in a thin layer of gold. I really don’t care much regardless, so long as I’m not being charged $30 for a burger and fries. Really, there’s only one accessory any burger needs to be beautiful in my book: a skirt.
By skirt, I’m referring to a layer of shredded cheese that coats the patty and an inch-wide perimeter surrounding it. The cheese atop the patty melts as usual, and the cheese perimeter fries in the pan to a golden crisp. I’d never heard it called a skirt until today, when Friendly’s, an East Coast chain of diner-style restaurants founded in my home region of Western Massachusetts, tweeted a photo of their Cheese Skirt Burger on Twitter.
I’ve never had the Friendly’s version, nor have I seen this style advertised at another restaurant, though a few places like Squeeze Burger in Sacramento offer it by the name “cheese skirt.” I have, however, eaten all of the (turkey) burgers I cook at home in this fashion for the last several years. When I saw Friendly’s now offering it for $12.49 with fries, I felt a sense of pride — surely, such a brilliant menu addition will help invigorate the bankrupt 87-year-old chain where I ate many chicken fingers and monster-shaped sundaes in my childhood. More than that, though, it affirmed the superiority of my previously nameless burger skirt practice.
Per usual, there were a joyless few on Twitter who shit all over the burger skirt. Some compared it to the neck-frilled Dilophosaurus from Jurassic Park. Another called it “horrendous,” while others complained that they didn’t know how someone would maneuver eating it. You just eat the fucking cheese, bozo. Like any other sandwich. Figure it out!
One positive sentiment repeated about the skirt burger, however, is the simple brilliance of it all. “Big shoutout to the fry cook who made this when they were high one night and then had the guts to pitch it to their manager the next afternoon,” @NotMattJ tweeted. “This is a kitchen mistake and they turned it into a product,” wrote @Kdash314. It’s such a basic concept — using shredded cheese on the burger, and adding a bit extra for a layer of fried cheesy goodness. It requires no new ingredients, no fancy preparation. And yet, it makes your regular cheeseburger into something completely memorable. Maybe even Instagram-worthy.
Though Friendly’s has yet to reveal their precise technique of creating the cheese skirt, there are several videos online documenting the process behind the Squeeze Burger, as well as recipes to DIY it at home. In particular, Insider made a video showcasing the Squeeze Burger in their series “The Great Cheese Hunt” in 2017 where the chef describes covering the burger with a lid as the cheese melts in order to “steam” it for around 45 seconds. This helps melt and crisp the cheese more quickly. Other online recipes call for a similar technique, using around a fistful or two of cheese. If you don’t have a pot lid with enough height, Food Network recommends using a metal bowl.
Whether you’re at Friendly’s or just making a burger at home, consider giving your burger a little flare. It’s proof that burgers don’t need any fancy accessories or over-the-top toppings. All they need is a nice skirt.