suggestive oxymoron, or, nocturnal reverie
I made a stunning discovery today: 'Burger King' is an oxymoron. No, not because burgers are distinctly non-regal meat products, but because a burger is a commoner, and a commoner cannot be king.
According to the OED, a burgher is:
'An inhabitant of a burgh, borough, or corporate town; a citizen. Chiefly used of continental towns, but also of English boroughs, in a sense less technical than burgess. Now somewhat arch.'I do recognize that the fast-food chain spells the word without the letter H, but that variant is included among the quotations provided in the OED's entry. Shakespeare used it in act 1, scene 1, line 10 of The Merchant of Venice:
'Your minde is tossing on the Ocean,
There where your Argosies with portlie sayle
Like Signiors and rich Burgars on the flood,
Or as it were the Pageants of the sea,
Doe ouer-peere the petty traffiquers
That cursie to them do them reuerence
As they flie by them with theyr wouen wings.'
(Quoted from the First Quarto, 1600)
In 1660, in what may be an inadvertent precursor of the dollar menu, economist Roger Coke wrote, 'A Burger who hath...half a mark, let him pay a Peter-peny.'
Taking the idea of the 'burgher king' seriously, what could it mean? Perhaps it is meant to imply the dignity of the common man, in the tradition of Huey Long's famous 'Every Man a King' speech of 1934:
'Those are the things we propose to do. "Every man a king." Every man to eat when there is something to eat; all to wear something when there is something to wear. That makes us all sovereign.'The promise of ubiquitous food at any hour of the day that one desires it is, after all, the promise of fast food. And it is this promise—of the uninterrupted satisfaction of consumer wants—that Burger [sic] King would have us believe will make us sovereign.
But I ask you, Reader, will it? Or will it enslave us to manufactured desires and drive us to a level of overproduction and overconsumption that will lead to mass obesity and global warming? I will have none of the Burgher King and his false promises. Down, I say, with the Burgher King and all tyrants everywhere!