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11 Things You Didn't Know About Good Burger

The golden age of Nickelodeon was undeniably the '90s, when all that glittered was slime, and every child knew that Kel loved orange soda. The network capitalized on that mass appeal by making a film called Good Burger. The surprise hit featured the venerable comedic talents of Kenan Thompson and the hilarious Kel Mitchell as two fast-food employees fighting to keep their workplace from being shut down by Mondo Burger, a huge burger chain across the street.

Good Burger features appearances by Sinbad, Carmen Electra, and other members of the Nickelodeon rat pack. It's a fan favorite that unapologetically screams '90s youth pop culture. Before there were Krabby Patties and sea shanties, there were good burgers and tunes expressing the joys of gender fluidity — because "we're all dudes." Over 20 years have passed since Good Burger was released, but love for the film has yet to fade. The stars and some of the other cast members went on to enjoy successful careers. The years have allowed for those lingering childhood questions to finally get answered. This is the untold truth of Good Burger.

Good Burger was originally a sketch on another Nickelodeon show

In 1994, Nickelodeon introduced a show into their lineup called All That. It was a sketch show presented as a kid-friendly version of Saturday Night Live. Kel Mitchell and Kenan Thompson first appeared together on the show as a pair of elderly audience hecklers. Their dynamic was so popular that producers decided to spin the two off into their own series, Kenan & Kel. They also got their own recurring sketch on All That centering on a fast-food restaurant known as Good Burger.

Kel Mitchell actually created his character, Ed, well before the original Good Burger sketch. In an audition for All That, Kel was improvising random characters for producers and threw out a goofy bro-like prototype of what was to come. An early version of this character first debuted in a sketch called "Dream Remote.” It features the familiar idea of a remote control for life (we're looking at you, Adam Sandler), allowing All That actor Josh Server to fast-forward past encounters with his nagging sister. In typical teenage fashion, he also uses the device to fast-forward to the arrival of his pizza delivery. Kel Mitchell is the driver who knocks on his door, donning the voice and mannerisms that would later be known as Ed.

Linda Cardellini had her big screen debut in Good Burger

Linda Cardellini's career hasn't slowed down since her humble beginnings in the 1990s. Before she became a hot commodity among casting directors, she was just a sweet girl from the psych ward.

In Good Burger, Ed and Dexter (Kenan Thompson) stumble across the secret to Mondo Burger's gigantic beef patties. The evil conglomerate is pumping their burgers full of growth hormones without the public's knowledge. The chain's lead baddie has the two fast-food heroes thrown into a mental hospital to ensure the secret stays hidden. To escape, Ed riles the place up with a catchy dance number. Among the residents who join their escape is an agreeable patient named Heather, played by Linda Cardellini in her first major film role.

Linda Cardellini's acting career later gained some serious momentum on Freaks and Geeks, ER, and Bloodline. Cardellini also played the classic character Velma in the live-action version of Scooby Doo. She even has a part in the Marvel universe as Hawkeye's wife and is one of the stars of Netflix's Dead to Me

Ed and Dexter also appeared in the music video for We're All Dudes

Part of Good Burger's appeal was an extremely catchy tune that embedded itself in the minds of an entire generation. Opening moments in the film feature Ed's morning routine before his shift at the place he loves most in the world. While showering with his uniform on, he enthusiastically sings a jingle expressing his thoughts on the word "dude."

"I'm a dude. She's a dude. He's a dude. 'Cause we're all dudes!" Ed belts out the tune in a delightful rendition that reminds us how amazing we all sound while singing in the shower. 

Filmmakers went one step further and hired popular band Less Than Jake to perform their own version of the song. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Kel stated that he wrote the lyrics in one night at a hotel and then performed it for producers the next day. The meeting led to a single-day shoot of the music video for Less Than Jake's song "We're All Dudes." Kenan Thompson appears several times in the video, but Kel Mitchell is the star, dancing while sporting his Good Burger uniform hat.

At one point, there were 1,750 pounds of meat on the set of Good Burger

If you're going to put the word "burger" in the title of your film, then you best feature a significant amount of meat on the screen. Producers of Good Burger ensured that the ground beef flowed freely during Ed and Dexter's heroic journey. In an interview in 1997, Kenan stated, "There was over 1,750 pounds of meat on the set." That amount boggles the mind, but also clears up how those massive, explosive Mondo patties were forged.

Thompson went on to describe the woes of on-set meat expiration. As anyone who has let some cheeseburgers linger on the kitchen counter too long knows, the stuff doesn't age well. Some of the burgers would stay out there for a long time. "I felt sorry for the extras who had to eat them with cold, clammy fries," Thompson said. "But on screen, those burgers look good." Now we need to go reexamine some scenes and witness the phenomenal background acting.

To keep the food looking tasty, production used some inedible techniques

The food on set may not have been gourmet quality, but it sure did look good. Several different techniques were used to make the cuisine shine on screen. Many of the burgers shown in Good Burger were encased in a layer of Elmer's glue to seal in all those juices. Methods like this are common in food industry commercials, but it's still jarring. 

The most entertaining moments in Good Burger come when the plot isn't even moving forward and we're just enjoying Ed being Ed. In one scene, the manager, Mr. Baily, is behind the register when the top of the milkshake machine pops up and Ed surfaces, covered in strawberry milkshake mix. Apparently, he'd climbed in to fix the device, though it was never broken — he'd simply forgotten to turn it on. This happy accident blesses Ed with the wonders of the "strawberry jacuzzi." The "ice cream" used to shoot this scene was actually just vegetable shortening and food coloring. Rewatching the scene makes us wonder how we ever thought that gloopy Pepto Bismol looked enticing.  

Good Burger, along with other popular Nickelodeon shows, was the brain child of Dan Schneider

Good Burger's appeal stemmed from its ability to replicate the fun energy of Nickelodeon's TV programming. Kudos to the powers that be for tapping into the correct source when jumping to the big screen. The man behind many of our favorite Nickelodeon moments was Dan Schneider. He wrote several magical parts of All That, including our favorite character detail: Kel's love for orange soda. Schneider decided to put his acting career on hold so he could keep creating sketches on All That. The gamble paid off when the Nickelodeon shows became massively popular. The success allowed him to write the screenplay for Good Burger. Schneider played Ed's boss, Mr. Baily, in Good Burger, and also appeared in several sketches on All That. Schneider felt like he had to choose between writing and acting, but it looks like you can have your burger and eat it, too. That said, some missteps by Schneider may have led to his eventual ouster from the network.

The Good Burger building still serves food today

The layout of the Good Burger restaurant set makes it feel authentic. It seems like a burger chain that's been chugging along since the '50s, serving good old-fashioned American cuisine. Good Burger was filmed at a location that is still tantalizing taste buds to this day, although the food has changed a bit. You can still go sit down at a booth in Good Burger, only now you can do it while chowing down on burritos and tacos. Currently, the building is home to a Mexican restaurant named El Loco

The Mondo Burger building is still around, too. It's not so recognizable now, though, as it houses a dentist's office and a real estate firm. Seeing how the building looks now is a testament to how much goes in to set design. Movie creators added loads of bells and whistles to the building to make it resemble a big burger conglomerate.

Ed's secret sauce in Good Burger reportedly tastes just like In-N-Out's sauce

Once Mondo Burger moves in across the street, we see firsthand the struggle of small business owners. It's hard to keep your patrons engaged when your rival is across the street with lights shooting up into the sky and music blaring during their red carpet premieres. Thankfully, Good Burger's most dedicated employee saves the day. Ed creates a sauce so delicious that it begins stealing customers back from Mondo Burger.

We always wondered what the secret sauce creation would taste like. Lucky for us, Mitchell spilled the beans in an interview. According to Ed, the secret Good Burger sauce tastes just like the secret sauce at legendary burger joint In-N-Out. We'll have to swing by In-N-Out soon and discover what else is hiding on this secret menu. 

Dexter may have worked hard to ensure Good Burger's secret sauce recipe stayed secret, but he's only one man. Plenty of people have tried to reverse-engineer Ed's secret sauce, and their versions can be found across the internet. We're not sure which one is the closest to the real thing, so we'll have to try them all.

Critics trashed Good Burger

The '90s era of Nickelodeon was unique for kids. We felt like there was a section of the entertainment world reserved just for us. It was like crawling into a pillow fort and slapping a "No Adults Allowed" sign out front. Good Burger was created with child audiences in mind. It's no wonder that adults didn't get it. 

Critics gave Good Burger a thorough lashing when it was released. It still sports a pretty bad critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Most critics claimed that unless you were a fan of All That and Kenan & Kel, Good Burger was a lackluster movie. The numbers say otherwise, though. Good Burger recovered its budget in the first week and had a solid run with a low theater count release. The film's appeal hasn't waned much over the years. Kenan and Kel even reprised their roles as Dexter and Ed for a sketch on Jimmy Fallon in 2015.

Good Burger helped Carmen Electra break into film

Ed's innocence lends Good Burger a heartwarming quality. His naivety is on full display when Mondo Burger sends in a rogue agent, Roxanne (Carmen Electra), to learn what's in Ed's secret sauce. Her attempts to seduce him comically fail when her innuendo goes over his head. 

Electra hadn't been in a major film production before Good Burger. Her prior experience in entertainment was also very different. "It was my first time doing physical comedy," she stated in an interview with Complex. "I didn't come to LA to be an actress. I was a dancer and had studied my whole life to do that." 

Her small role in Good Burger isn't even in the credits, but her turn in a comedy let the audience (and producers) know that she had a silly side. Electra's performance in Good Burger led to a regular role in the immensely popular Scary Movie franchise. "I love to make people laugh," she told Complex. "I'd just never done it in front of a bunch of strangers. And they were all really happy that I went all out with it. This opened the door for me to do Scary Movie and all the other goofy stuff."  

A script was written for a sequel, but it was turned down for unknown reasons

We always wished we'd have many years to share with the cast of Good Burgerbut the pack scattered as the years went by. With the nostalgic love for Good Burger still strong, we wonder why there was never any follow-up. The film's success could have warranted a sequel. Dan Schneider certainly thought so: The writer penned a sequel to Good Burger called Good Burger 2 Go. For reasons unknown to most, the story was never put into production. A Schneider-involved sequel seems unlikely after Nickelodeon severed ties with him in 2018 (Nickelodeon didn't publicly specify why it let Schneider go, though Deadline has some idea). 

You can still read up on more Good Burger adventures, though. Schneider released his story as a book co-authored by Steve Holland. In the book, the fast-food chain needs to get their secret sauce approved via several taste tests. Problems arise when the sauce runs out and Ed goes missing. It turns out that the lovable goof is following a customer across the globe to give him his 18 cents in change. Dexter gives chase and things get out of hand — just as we'd hoped. 

A Good Burger sequel has been discussed for years, and fans remain hopeful. The groundwork is there. The audience is still interested. The cast has even expressed interest in reprising their roles. According to Thompson, though, any hope of a sequel is "in the higher power's hands."