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NEW YORK (CAP) - In a nod to pilot Chesley B. (Sully) Sullenberger, Burger King this week will introduce a limited edition Sullen Burger, which will be distributed with a 5-inch-tall action figure of the Hudson River hero.
"We wanted to salute a true American hero, and what better way to do it than through dedicating a burger in his name," said Burger King spokesman Arthur Shankman. "And we called it the Sullen Burger, because his name is Sullenberger, which sounds the same."
The burger, explained Shankman, is actually a chicken patty ground together with tomatoes and onions and deep fried, in deference to the bird that flew into the engine of Flight 1549. "The action figure is just made of plastic," he added.
The Sullen Burger is only the latest in a series of innovative product tie-ins to the overnight celebrity. Nike has already rolled out its "Sully Cap," a baseball cap with Sullenberger's likeness on the brim, and Dr. Pepper has offered free cans of soda to any passenger of Flight 1549, although they've yet to provide any practical means for the passengers to collect them.
These are in addition to the Sullenberger T-shirts, jewelry, tote bags, calendars, glowsticks (with lanyard) and other items that popped up for sale online within hours of the fateful landing.
"Let's face it, this guy deserves to be on a T-shirt," said Fred Minkle of Slugo Shirts, Inc., a popular online T-shirt outlet that has already sold hundreds of I'm with Sully shirts. "I mean, if that baby from Family Guy gets to be on T-shirts, this guy certainly should."
The hero worship directed at Sullenberger has made some uneasy, however. "As far as the National Transportation Safety Board is concerned, this is an open investigation," said NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker. "On the surface Capt. Sullenberger's actions certainly seem heroic. But we need to examine all the facts. For instance, what if he flew into that flock of birds on purpose? I'm just saying."
But most have jumped enthusiastically on the Sully train. In the last day alone, Sullenberger has been offered an opportunity to host Saturday Night Live, his own talk show on the Fox network and a regular slot on Sirius/XM satellite radio in which he would play selections from his own record collection.
But perhaps the most surprising development has been a serious push to get Sullenberger named President Barack Obama's new secretary of transportation -- news which came as a surprise to the man Obama already tapped for the job, Ray LaHood. "I already put down a security deposit on a place in DC," said LaHood today.
But LaHood is already a controversial choice, a conservative who has drawn fire from Democrats as a status quo appointment by the new president. Also, Mark Hendenfrantz - whose Facebook group, "Sully Sullenberger Should Definitely be the New Transportation Secretary" already has more than 300,000 members - asks pointedly, "Has Ray LaHood ever landed a plane in the Hudson River? Safely, I mean? I thought not."
In fact, Sullenberger has achieved almost universal acclaim in the short time since he emerged from obscurity last week.
"Chesley B. (Sully) Sullenberger is a great man, a hero for our times - that's something those on both sides of the aisle can agree upon," acknowledged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Unless we find out he's ever cheated on wife, in which case all bets are off."
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