A few years ago, I was in an elevator.
It was Summer and, because it was so warm, I had my shirt unbuttoned three or four down, an ample amount of chest hair on display. The elevator stopped on a floor halfway to my destination and an older man got in. He was clearly straight and had a bit of a surprised stink face, which he aimed in my direction.
“You got your hamburger meats hanging out,” he said, pointing at me.
“Hamburger meats,” he gesticulated to his chest, pulling the collar of his t-shirt down to tug on his chest hair. “Hamburger meats.”
Yes, “hamburger meats” is a term some people use to refer to chest hair. I don’t know how and I don’t know why but I love it. It’s the most bizarre combination of images—curly tit pubes with crumbly cow parts—that makes as much sense as it doesn’t. Who invented the term, realizing that the two had a blurry resemblance? Was it a placidly drunk old man working as a prep cook at a diner, remarking in the 1970s that his disco dude customers were showing off too much furry flesh? Was it a dad on Taco Tuesday bemoaning his child for not wearing a shirt to dinner? Was it a creative butcher’s eureka moment while day dreaming about gay porn?
I’m not sure. The term exists and it is one of the more absurd names for a body part. There are two main nicknames for the meat/hair overlap: there is the classic “hamburger meat” and the slightly more seasoned “taco meat.” Both are essentially the same thing. People have long mused on Yahoo! Answers about the term, landing in a divided territory of “This is slang!” and “I have never heard of this!” and “I call it Man Fur!”
The best is when men use the term on each other, which seems like a strange and subtlety sexual something. Like Lagunero7199 who commented on Daym Drops’ YouTube video: “Looks like you have hamburger meat on your chest.” There were a few lols and accusations of racism but Jeffery Williams was the lone confused respondent, saying, “I did not see where he dropped any meat?” Thankfully, Tobe Strange stepped in to explain: “it’s a joke cause of the hair all over his chest.” Williams replied with a flat, “oh.”
Beyond isolated YouTube comments, men seem to always toss the term at each other. From the MALEFASHIONADVICE subreddit—a straight male for straight male clothing tip aggregator—a man asked for help styling and one confusing supporter of chest hair outing raised the roof with, “Hell yea buddy, let that burger meat bang.” A similar Reddit thread, musing over the lowness of buttons, urged not to unbutton too much “if you are a hairy beast” or “the hamburger meat will start to fall out.” Noted.
Most famously, the concept of hamburger meat as chest hair reached a cultural climax in 2010, when Pauly D said that Vinny’s chest hair looked like the food stuff on Jersey Shore. It happened in season two, episode thirteen and, while I’d like to give the Jersey DJ the title for the phrase, he was not the first to place “chest hair” and “hamburger meat” in a similar context. But, if you are a pro-Pauly hamburger meat truther, that’s cool: you can wear that belief with pride.
So, if you’re looking for a means to weird people out and get a few laughs by the pool this Summer, bring up hamburger meat or taco meat or any meat in relationship to chest hair. Surely, you will get a few looks as you spread the gospel of the flesh and follicle overlap. Be proud of them body meats, people!