NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – It started early one morning in 1997 after a night of partying, when Darrell Butler was a Rutgers University sophomore with little money and a craving for chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and french fries.
Now the "Fat Darrell" (search) has been crowned the best sandwich in the country by Maxim magazine. Maxim's September issue, which lists the top 10 sandwiches, hits news stands Tuesday.
Fat Darrell named for its caloric content, not Butler, a 160-pound physical trainer and aspiring actor was conceived as a way to save money by combining the creator's various cravings on one bun.
"Separately, they would have cost me, like, $12.75, and I was on a college budget," Butler, 26, of Eatontown, told The Associated Press. He combined all three foods into a single order.
"So, I'm standing there eating it, and all of a sudden the guy standing behind me says, 'That thing that guy's eating looks pretty good, can you make me one of those?' And, it was like a movie scene, the next 10 people order the same thing. So, I'm like, 'Whoa!' like I think I might be onto something. And the guy is like, 'Hey, man, this is cool.'"
That guy who assembled the sandwich was Abdul Eid, working in an R.U. Hungry (search) food truck, parked in a campus lot in New Brunswick, catering to beer-soaked undergraduates with the late-night munchies.
Eid now runs R.U. Hungry Grill & Pizza, a store he was able to open in part due to the success of the $4.75 Fat Darrell, the flagship of R.U.'s "Fat" line.
"I have the 'Fat Mojo,' which is exactly the same thing as the 'Fat Darrell,' but with honey mustard instead of marinara sauce," said Eid, 34, a native of Beirut, Lebanon.
Maxim's runner-up was "The Nuke," (search) an artery blocker at the Staggering Ox in Helena, Montana, that combines ham, roast beef, turkey and three cheeses.
Laura Gilbert, a Maxim senior editor, said the Fat Darrell's inception was a factor in its top ranking.
"It just has that element of drunken ingenuity that our readers like," she said. The magazine caters to young professional men.