Crab Fest Food: The Bruin Burger

Crab Fest hit town this weekend, and one of the stars of the festival was the bruin burger.

On the first day of Crab Fest, there’s a line trailing away from the window of the Kodiak Sno-Bruins food cart. The nonprofit fries up the Kodiak staple every year for the festival.

But what is the Bruin Burger? We asked a few people in line.

Sno-Bruins volunteer, Tom Abell, recieves customers' orders at Crab Fest 2015. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
Sno-Bruins volunteer, Tom Abell, recieves customers’ orders at Crab Fest 2015. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

“It’s basically a flattened out dough with some burger, cheese, a little egg and oil to hold it all together and then they just deep fry it…”

“Meaty and cheesy…”

“Deliciousness, it’s deep, fat friend amazingness…”

“A hot pocket of friend goodness.”

According to a couple of people in line, it sells out fast.

“’Cause sometimes at the end of the crabfest, it’s almost gone, so everybody’s trying to buy it first day of the crab fest,” says one customer.

“Talked to a few people around here and they said, yeah it sells out within Saturday,” says another patron. “People come and get dozens of them and bring them back to the tribe and everything like that. It’s that amazing. I’ve walked around and everything looks so good, but I’ve always learned follow the line. The one longest line is the best one.”

The bruin burger isn’t just a fried guilty pleasure or fairgrounds treat. It’s also fundraising gold.

Inside the Sno-Bruins food cart, volunteers arrange, fry, and package up bruin burgers. The bruin burgers look like square burritos with the ends tucked under, and they fill the table tops.

22-year club member and volunteer, Tom Abell, stands at the window speaking with customers. He takes a break to explain the origins of the Kodiak Sno-Bruins.

“It started out in 1968 and Karen Sayling who passed away this last month was the person that thought of making the bruin burger, just to raise a few dollars for the club to have a banquet at the end of the year, the snowmobile season and etcetera , and it’s bloomed into the people gotta have their bruin burger every year,” says Abell.

Proceeds go toward the Sno-Bruins’ promotion of winter sports, their safety education efforts, and their donations to local nonprofits. A couple of the young people volunteering in the food truck are from groups like the soccer team and the Kodiak branch of Health Occupations Students of America

One person mans the fryer.

According to Abell, that’s the only treatment the bruin burger gets the day of Crab Fest.

“They cook 1100 pounds of the meat one day, which is secret ingredients, I can’t tell you that – it’s just meat – and then the next two days on Saturday and a Sunday, they roll them up, and they bring them in and defrost them and deep fry them and sell them out the window,” says Abel.

Abell says they sold about 2,500 bruin burgers the first day. According to a for mer Sno-Bruins volunteer who stands in the line outside, buying one is a given.

“It’s one of those things that it’s crab fest, go and get a bruin burger,” he says. “I think it’s kinda ‘when it Rome.’”

Especially if it’s your first visit. It’s a rite of passage.