Hudsons Hamburgers celebrates a century of Huddyburgers in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Find more of Peter Fish's Postcard and Western Wanderings essaysToddHudson has a century's worth of stories about the family hamburgerjoint in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. But the best dates back to hisgrandfather Howard Hudson. "A guy sat down and ate eight hamburgersin a row," Todd says. "Then he wanted to linger over his coffee.Howard told him, 'Hell, no - I need that stool.' Howard made himfinish his coffee standing up."
This story reveals a number of things. First, that Hudson's issmall - specifically, 17 chrome stools at a brown Formica counter.Second, that Hudson's is popular. And that Howard Hudson was ademanding host. Most important, it tells you that Hudson'shamburgers are so good, somebody can eat eight of them at a singlesitting.
This year marks Hudson's Hamburgers' 100th birthday. The eventhas been celebrated with official proclamations and with tributesfrom America's most demanding palates, among them the Wall Street Journal's Raymond Sokolov, who said, "TheHuddyburger is the best $2 burger in creation."
The Missouri Lunch was what Harley Hudson called the place whenhe opened in 1907. "Not because he was from Missouri," Toddexplains, "but because he had a brother nicknamed Missouri." Harleyhad an inkling that Coeur d'Alene, then a booming timber town,would have an appetite for burgers. A century later,multimillion-dollar lakeside homes have mostly replaced the lumbermills. But millions of Huddyburgers (and five generations ofHudsons grilling them) have proved Harley right.
Part of the Hudson's legend is that it starts serving early.
So I show up at 9 a.m. to watch Todd prep for the day. This is asimpler task than at many restaurants, and a glance at the menuposted behind the counter tells you why. Here's what you can order:hamburgers, cheeseburgers, double hamburgers, double cheeseburgers.Pickle and onion if you want. Here's what you can't order: gourmetburger additions, milkshakes, and - steady yourself - the burger'sseemingly essential partner in crime, the french fry.