Burgers and Beers for 30 Years!

Although Crunchy’s was a mere “Other Worthy Contender” in MLive’s Michigan’s Best Burger search, they’re right about one thing:  “The MSU contingency swears by this institution.”  I concur – Crunchy’s is definitely my favorite burger in East Lansing.

Like most great burgers, a meal at Crunchy’s is about the whole experience.


It takes most people a little while to figure out how to get into the building their first time.  You park out back and have to enter through the alley.  You can spot a regular by their confident stride into the dingy alley.


When you enter Crunchy’s, the lights are dim, but you’ll immediately notice graffiti everywhere.  Carved or scrawled onto the walls and booths, it provides a testament in a transient college town to those who have gone before us.



The Famous Crunchy Burger is known around town – half a pound of chargrilled meat covered in American cheese.  Weekdays from 11 am to 4:30 pm, the Burger Special will get you a Crunchy Burger, French fries, and a pop for a mere $5.49.  It’s easy on the tummy and the budget!


As tempting as the Burger Special is, my heart belongs to the Salmon Burger – a perfectly round patty of grilled salmon, covered with a slice of American cheese and paired with a Dijon horseradish sauce – although it’ll never measure up to Grandma’s Good Friday salmon patties.  I always dip my finger into the Dijon horseradish sauce to test it out before pouring too much over the cheesy side of my salmon.  A heaping serving of French’s yellow mustard graces the underside of the salmon.  The lettuce, tomato, and pickle garnishing the burger are removed and eaten separately, not to tarnish the delicate mix of flavors, and the onions are simply disposed of as quickly as possible.


I always get my Salmon Burger on a pretzel bun, and every once in a while, I’ll add one of Crunchy’s nine Signature Toppings.  My favorite options for the Salmon Burger are the Bacon & Cheese (bacon, cheddar cheese), the Olive (black or green olives, American cheese), and the Western (bacon, Crunchy’s Stout BBQ sauce, mozzarella cheese).  The burger comes with a bag of Better Made Original Potato Chips.  Usually I substitute tater tots for the chips, but with Thanksgiving dinner the next day, I didn’t want to spoil my appetite.  The Dijon horseradish sauce that comes with the Salmon Burger doubles as a zesty dipping sauce for the tater tots!


The only downside to Crunchy’s is the lack of parking onsite, which means you have to park at a meter and have enough quarters on you to pay for an hour of parking.  Or, you park on campus and walk four miles to Crunchy’s, which is typically my solution when the weather permits!


The Best Field Beer that You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Archaeological fieldwork doesn’t always happen in the most comfortable conditions.  It’s not unusual to be on a project in the middle of nowhere, living in a cabin without power or running water, with 15 sweaty strangers in 100° F weather.  You might have to take a boat to the mainland once a week for groceries and a gas station shower, or you might have to take a boat every day to get out of your cabin and to the site.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the first question on this flowchart about creature comforts and happiness in the field is about alcohol.

Do you have beer?  If the answer is “yes,” then “you will endure all other deprivations with relative equanimity!”


Unfortunately, you might be tempted to answer “no” if it is 100° F and there is no refrigerator space available for alcohol.  If so, that’s because you have never heard of Lionshead Beer, the best field beer around!


Heralding from the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner “is a classic Standard American Lager Crisp, clean and slightly dry with some residual sweetness.”

I discovered Lionshead in 2009, when I was working in Pennsylvania excavating at the home of the first speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Frederick Muhlenberg.   Thankfully, some co-workers were from the area and knew to bring Lionshead.

I was instantly smitten.  At 4.5% ABV, a bottle of Lionshead is cheap and refreshing, with just the right hint of sweetness, at the end of a long, hot workday.  To top everything off, Lion Brewery developed the genius puzzle cap.  Every bottle cap has a rebus puzzle underneath, designed to keep its drinkers entertained for hours.  Try your hand at some of them!


However, it wasn’t until I worked at the Morton Village Site in Havana, Illinois, in 2010 that I realized the true glory of Lionshead beer for the field archaeologist.  Some friends had brought me a case of Lionshead when they came to visit before I began my fieldwork that summer, so I brought it with me down to Illinois.  Upon arrival, we realized that we did not have enough refrigerator space for most of our alcohol, and so it was stored at room temperature.  Room temperature is not ideal for any beer, especially not in west-central Illinois, where the late May and June temperatures averaged in the mid-90s (°F).  Essentially, we were drinking warm beer, which is the worst after spending all day sizzling in the sun.  Except, it wasn’t!  The Lionshead was even more delicious when it was warm!

Unfortunately for most archaeologists, Lionshead can only be purchased in the following states:  Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  If you find yourself working in those states, make sure you check it out!

Please drink responsibly.