Welcome to a very special edition of #DoubleFML – FatDarrellPalooza because someone is celebrating a birthday (hmm, or should I say something?)! That’s right everyone! Say Happy Birthday to The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich which officially turns 20 this month! That’s right, The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich was born in late January 1997! Wow, they grow up so fast don’t they? But seriously, 2 decades of deliciousness is a pretty huge deal so today we’re looking back at the greatest moments in ®Fat Darrell Sandwich history as voted on by a panel of 15 independent judges!
Disagree with the list or the order in which it appears? Let us know in the comments below!
Now before we get started, it would be remiss of me to assume that everyone reading this knows what The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich is. So, long story short, it’s my namesake sandwich that I created when I was a student at Rutgers University. Several years later it was named as the best sandwich in America and spawned numerous tribute sandwiches and additional awards. Here’s a link to the full origin story on FatDarrell.com to bring you up to speed if you need a prerequisite: http://www.fatdarrell.com/about
I also have to say that narrowing this list down to only 10 moments was extremely difficult! I’ve truly enjoyed every moment and have been humbled by the overwhelming popularity of this sandwich over the last 20 years! I’ve sincerely appreciated every fan letter, selfie request and interview! If you read the history of The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich or have caught any of my interviews in the past, you’ll understand that I honestly did not expect any of this. I was just a hungry college student who wanted a cheap meal. I wasn’t looking to get famous that night, I was looking for dinner lol so the fact that my little creation has brought so much joy and happiness to others as well has been incredible!
Since I found it so hard to narrow the list down myself, I left the Top 10 rankings entirely in the hands of the judges! But when you consider that interviews with The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CBS Radio, MSNBC, Cooking Channel, Bravo TV, Yahoo and TodayShow.com are among those that didn’t make the final cut, you can see how difficult this task was for them as well! Most of the video, print and radio appearances can be found on FatDarrell.com though so check them out for yourself and feel free to vote for your favorite moment in the comments below!
Okay and now without further ado, let’s get on to the list!
Oh, wait I forgot! There is some further ado actually, lol. We still found it necessary to include 4 Honorable Mentions since a few of the final tallies were almost too close to call!
Honorable Mention 1: Esquire Magazine’s 60 Things Worth Shortening Your Life For
In February 2008, Esquire Magazine compiled a list of the most rewarding activities, indulgences and decadent foods and coming in at #24 was The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich! This article was unique because it wasn’t just a food list, it was a list of every and anything! It was also a surprise since I had no idea that I was included in this until I was randomly flipping through the magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store and spotted the shoutout. What an honor!
Honorable Mention 2: Roker on the Road
The Roker in Roker in the Road is Al, as in America’s favorite weatherman and Today Show co-anchor Al Roker! In 2004 he made me the featured guest on his Roker on the Road newsmagazine’s “On a Roll” episode! We spent hours shooting footage all over Rutgers and then set-up shop inside of RU Grill and Pizza where we had a cookoff and follow-up taste-test to see who’s sandwich was better. The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich or “The Roke.” Fun Times and Al Roker was just as friendly and personable as you see on TV!
Honorable Mention 3: President Obama Mentions The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich during his 2016 Rutgers Commencement Speech
It’s rare enough that a sitting President was on The Banks of the Raritan to give the Rutgers graduating class their big sendoff. It’s even more rare for that sitting President to mention chicken fingers and cheesesteak! Had he gotten the recipe correct this would have easily made the top 10 but either way, it was a surreal moment (even though as he mentioned, Michelle would probably not approve of this diet!). In 2010, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show started a petition to have President Obama try a ®Fat Darrell Sandwich when he visited New Jersey that year but they started the effort too late so unfortunately it never happened. Still, a very fun a surreal moment!
Honorable Mention 4: Rutgers 250 Magazine and website
2016 marked the 250-year anniversary (only 230 more years for us to get there too eh?!) of Rutgers University. To commemorate this amazing milestone, Rutgers Magazine put out a special Rutgers 250 website and Magazine. I was fortunate enough to have been included in the Rutgers 250 coverage and even appeared in the magazine photo montage! I absolutely love my alma mater so this was a huge deal for me and was very much appreciated. Anyone that knows me knows I bleed Scarlet (although I guess technically we all do since blood is red and all…) so I’m honored to be a part of the University’s rich history.
Okay now on to the list!
10. The ®Fat Darrell at Lincoln Financial Field
For 5 seasons (2009-2013), The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich had an in-stadium home on the 100 level of the massive Lincoln Financial Field stadium in Philadelphia, PA. Through our partnership with Aramark concessions, we brought hungry NFL, NCAA, MLS fans and concert goers the best sandwich in the nation! We have plans to expand into many other stadiums very soon but our location at Lincoln Financial Field was the partnership that paved the way!
9. Mental Floss lists The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich among the Top 10 American Food Origin Stories
Being included in Mental Floss is already an honor, but when you consider that they listed The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich on a list that includes iconic American food staples such as The Hamburger and The Philly Cheesesteak, it’s even more mind-blowing! This was another time that I had no idea the article existed until my phone started ringing from friends who had gotten a copy before I had the chance to. Any time I’m mentioned in the same sentence as pizza and onion rings, I’m absolutely doing something right lol.
8. ®Fat Darrell Day at Madison Square Garden
In November 2014, The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich invaded another stadium – this time the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City as a representative of historic New Jersey foods during a New York Knicks NBA game! Earlier that day, ESPN Radio’s Michael Kay Show expressed their cravings for a ®Fat Darrell Sandwich so I dropped by the studio with a batch! Take notes tooth fairy, THAT is how you deliver on a wish…
7. ®Fat Darrell on Paula’s Party with Paula Deen on The Food Network
From 2006-2008, Celebrity Chef Paula Deen hosted her Party in front of a live studio audience in prime time on The Food Network. On a very special edition of her show featuring sandwiches, she flew me down to Savannah to join her in making a ®Fat Darrell Sandwich and then we teamed up again later in the show to make a giant surf and turf sandwich to feed the whole audience! Her son Bobby, who’s a celebrity chef himself, later reimagined The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich on his Food Network show Not My Mama’s Meals as well. If I remember correctly, one of the other guests on the show had the world record for flipping pancakes! In hindsight I should have stayed in touch with him, I could really use a stack right about now lol.
6. ®Fat Darrell on iHeartRadio’s flagship Elvis Duran and The Morning Show live from Z100 studios in NYC
The hilarious crew over at Elvis Duran and The Morning Show had talked about craving ®Fat Darrell Sandwiches for weeks so I made arrangements to bring them a batch and appear on the air. In a #DoubleFML moment though, the morning of the appearance, my vendor forgot to stock up on chicken fingers! That delayed me by over an hour and then I fought traffic the entire way up to the studio. I barely made it in before they signed off the air as they hilariously gave updates throughout the show as the clock ticked down. Several years later, former c0-host Carolina Bermudez had moved on to television, hosting CBS WLNY’s Live from the Couch. So she invited me to drop by for a fun cooking segment where I made ®Fat Darrell Sandwiches live with co-hosts Lisa Kerney and John Elliott. Carolina now appears on WKTU NY’s Cubby and Carolina in the morning so hey Carolina, if you’re ever craving another ®Fat Darrell Sandwich you know I’ve got you covered!
5. Sports Illustrated Best Stadium Foods
This one was huge because the ®Fat Darrell Sandwich had only been at Lincoln Financial Field for a few years when Sports Illustrated featured it in their 2012 NFL preview issue as the Philadelphia representative of the best food offerings from each NFL stadium. Not only did we make the list, we also landed the lead photo! If you didn’t know how much I love the NFL, watch this video! So yeah, this was a huge honor! A few years later in 2014, The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich was also selected to represent local culinary favorites at an exclusive Superbowl VIP party when it was held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ!
4. Buzzfeed tries The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich
Last year, Buzzfeed posted a video where they taste tested The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich and it went viral in less than a day! But with good reason, the video is hilarious! Although they technically got the title wrong (Buzzfeed Tries The Original Fat Sandwich) since the original fat sandwich was actually The Fat Cat which was created in 1979 (see our history page on FatDarrell.com), it was still a huge honor to have gotten this major shoutout from one of my favorite websites (…aside from this one of course)! Thanks again Buzzfeed, I’m glad you enjoyed the tasty sammiches lol.
3. ®Fat Darrell on Good Morning America
Me with a live microphone across the entire country? What could possibly go wrong? Ha, yeah this one was fun. They sent a limousine down to Jersey to pick me up and take me to the studio where I whipped up some ®Fat Darrell Sandwiches for Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts and the crew. After my segment, they had Food Network’s Emeril Lagasse as the next guest. Ha, talk about being upstaged! I go out there and make chicken fingers and this guy is flinging around salmon steaks and rice pilaf! After the cooking segment, we were both treated to a performance by Nelly and Jaheim on the outdoor stage. ®Fat Darrell Sandwich is getting’ “Hot in Herre”….
2. ®Fat Darrell on Man vs. Food
In 2010, Adam Richman came to Rutgers University to take on The ®Fat Darrell Challenge where he attempted to eat 5 fat sandwiches in only 45 minutes! Since some of you might not have seen this episode yet, I won’t reveal the finish, but I was there to offer my words of encouragement throughout the challenge! This is probably the most popular appearance that I’ve made as it’s still airing in heavy rotation around the world. Surprisingly Adam wasn’t a zillion pounds in person after eating all of that! He was also a great guy as we both stuck around for hours taking pictures and signing items for everyone that showed up for the event. That was a great crowd that night, we’ll definitely have to film another segment there in the future!
1. MAXIM names The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich as The Best Sandwich in the Nation!
Although there was a lot of debate among the judges for the other 9 positions, this was number one on everyone’s list! Once MAXIM honored The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich with the top spot on their list of the best sandwiches in America in 2004, it went from Rutgers favorite to global phenomenon! In 2010, MAXIM also named The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich as the best college tail gate food and as the best sandwich on Earth! That’s funny that they went with the title of “Best Sandwich on Earth” instead of Universe because that may mean that there are sandwiches on Mars. Hmm, I’ll have to ask the guy who runs that UFO Welcome Center who I featured a few weeks ago, maybe he has some info on that…
So do you agree with the list? What’s your favorite ®Fat Darrell Sandwich memory? Post in the comments below!
Birthday – The Beatles
Happy Birthday – Stevie Wonder
Birthday Cake – Rihanna (cake cake cake cake cake…)
In Da Club – 50 Cent (Go Shawty, it’s your birthday…)
Birthday Song – 2 Chainz ft Kanye West
Un-break my Heart – Toni Braxton (This was the number 1 song in January 1997)
Hot in Herre – Nelly (This is one of the songs he performed on GMA)
Thanks again for joining our birthday celebration for The ®Fat Darrell Sandwich! Unfortunately, the little guy isn’t quite old enough to drink just yet so please save your shots for his 21st lol. But seriously, it’s been a great 20 years so thank you all for being a part of the journey. The next 20 years should be even better! But for now, I’m going to get those pancakes that I talked about earlier. Oh yeah, and remind me to show you my pancake tank top in a future post (yes, I seriously have one! I told you, my dumb shirt collection runs deep my friends)! Until next time, please continue to keep liking, sharing and commenting. I can’t thank you enough for helping this site grow, y’all are the real MVP’s. Also click on those social media buttons to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more! I’ll be back again with another post on Thursday! Until then, may the fork be with you…
“Life is like a sandwich, the more you add to it, the better it becomes…”