If you happen to find yourself in Girardville, Pennsylvania, be sure to stop into Tony’s Lunch. The greasy spoon is a repository of quirky contradictions. For one, it isn’t open for lunch, despite the name. But more importantly, it is the birthplace of the inexplicably delicious “Fluff Screamer” burger.
A Screamer consists of a hamburger, raw onions, spicy chili sauce, Fluff (yes, the sticky marshmallow stuff that comes in a jar), optional cheese, and a pat of butter on top. Weird? Yes. Delicious? Also yes. A Screamer might make you scream for mercy, or scream for more, but scream you will.
The regular Screamer was a Tony’s concoction long before it got fluffed up and entered the unlikely-food-combo hall of fame (see also: garlic ice cream and the pie barm). According to Saveur, a teenager who was a Tony’s regular would always request that a bit of the marshmallow Fluff reserved for the restaurant’s hot chocolate be put on her Screamer. Servers, presumably aghast at having to repeat the order to the chefs, kept denying her request. One day, the proprietor’s niece, a comrade in culinary rebellion, acquiesced to make the 16-year-old patron’s order. The Fluff Screamer was born, and continues to thrive on the Tony’s menu today.
There are clear methods to ordering and eating at Tony’s, so it’s best to go in informed. Walk in the door, take a number off of the counter, and order immediately at the cash register: a Screamer (or two) with “quick cheese” (a slice of unmelted American cheese that gets gooey on the plate as it marries with the hot patty, bun, and generous knob of butter) and, of course, the Fluff. All should be washed down with a little carton of TrueMoo chocolate milk.
Need to Know
You'll need cash, as no credit cards are accepted. Although the name says otherwise, Tony's Lunch doesn't open until 6:00 p.m. most days—"most days," as in the days they feel like opening. Be sure to call first to confirm they're open. They work when they want, but wouldn't we all if we could?
Where to Try It
There's table service, but customers should pay at the counter, diner-style, at the end of the meal. Get there early: Lines begin to form in the late hours of the night.