Deep in the heart of Pennsylvania coal country, a few miles from the smoldering, abandoned town of Centralia, you can try one of the oddest regional foods In the country. If you happen to find yourself in Girardville, be sure to stop into Tony’s Lunch, a repository of quirky but delicious contradictions.
At first, it isn’t open for lunch, despite the name.
But more importantly, it is the birthplace of the inexplicably delicious “Fluff Screamer” burger, one of the weirdest—and tastiest—burgers you’ll ever eat.
It consists of a griddled hamburger topped with raw onions, a mound of soft butter, a (secret) spicy chili sauce, optional cheese and Marshmallow Fluff (yes, really the sticky marshmallow stuff that comes in a jar).
Delicious? Also yes.
The regular fluff-less Screamer burger was a Tony’s speciality long before it got so popular and entered the unlikely-food-combo hall of fame. For years, coal region locals have debated exactly what is in the spicy sauce, but it is a secret still today!
Originally, the restaurant had Fluff for the hot chocolate. A 16-year-old girl used to come in ever day and ask for it on her Screamer, and they refused, presumably aghast at having to repeat the order to the chefs. Then one day, Tony’s niece, a waitress, made it for her, and people started copying her order. As a result, the Fluff Screamer was born, continues to thrive on the Tony’s menu today, and now everyone wants it.
Restaurants in neighboring towns have since made various copycats of both Screamer sauce and the Fluff Burger, but none of them top the original.
Tony Fulginiti opened Tony’s as a lunch counter in the 1940s after WWII. It was bought in 1975, and in the following years expanded to a full-sized restaurant. Tony’s used to be open all day, but now the peak hour begin after midnight. The late-night crowd has developed a secret menu: Lots of regulars order their Screamers with “quick cheese,” a slice of cold, unmelted American cheese that gets gooey on the plate as it marries with the hot patty, bun, and generous knob of butter. Or an “S&S,” a burger with Screamer sauce on both sides of the patty.
All should be washed down with a little carton of TrueMoo chocolate milk.
23 East Main Street, Girardville, PA
Images from web – Google Research