It’s no longer enough to say that burgers are all-American. This spring, burgers are not just American, they’re regional. A new TV campaign for Applebee’s Realburgers spotlights burgers named for American “neighborhoods” and The Cheesecake Factory has introduced a six-item line of Glamburgers, each of which the chain says is “inspired by a different region of the United States.”
Applebee’s was one of the early “better burger” adopters, bringing the bigger, juicier Realburgers to its menu exactly a year ago. New TV commercials from McCann-Erickson, New York, promote “Realburgers from across America” and positions them as being “100% fresh, made to order and as unique as the neighborhoods that inspired them.” Using “neighborhood” in this context is a bit of a stretch, but the burgers are undeniably American.
The Southwest Jalapeño Burger ($8.59, though prices may vary by location) is topped with candied jalapeños, melted pepper-Jack cheese and chipotle mayo. The Philly Burger‘s ($8.59) beef, grilled peppers, onion and white Cheddar are served on a toasted hoagie roll and the Cowboy Burger ($8.99) gets crispy onion strings, melted white Cheddar, bacon and barbecue sauce.
The Cheesecake Factory’s Glamburgers line is a totally new addition to what already was one of the longest restaurant menus. A few of the burgers are clearly identified with regions, including the Sonoma (with herbed goat cheese, mushrooms, oven-roasted tomatoes, arugula, red onion and mayo), the Memphis (topped with barbecued pork, melted Cheddar, coleslaw, pickles and mayo) and the Monterey (avocado, melted Jack cheese, arugula, red onion and honey-mustard mayo).
Less obvious in their place of origin are the Blue Cheese BLT Burger (bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion mayo and blue cheese), which the chain says represents Rogue River Valley, Ore.; the Smokehouse BBQ Burger (smoked bacon, melted Cheddar, crispy onion rings and barbecue-ranch sauce, and representing Austin, Texas) and a Santa Fe, N.M.-inspired Green Chile Cheeseburger (fire-roasted green chiles and onion, tortilla strips, melted cheese, tomato salsa and chipotle mayo).
Naming burgers for American cities, regions, neighborhoods or whatever certainly isn’t new. Patriotism always sells. Last year, we wrote a post listing more than two dozen place-based burgers on menus. It’s also true that McDonald’s lately has been creating American-place-name burgers in Europe (the New York Supreme and NYCrispy) and Japan (the “Big America” burgers).