Wisconsin Cheese Adds Value

When you turn cheeseburgers into Wisconsin Cheeseburgers, you’re not just adding extra flavor, you’re adding the prestige of award-winning quality. Quality your customers will pay a premium for.
Click HERE to visit the Wisconsin Cheese Burger page and get the recipe for the Mediterranean Lamb Burger with Wisconsin Feta shown below!


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Want the recipe for the Cream Cheese Stuffed Garlic Burger shown above? Looking for burger recipes from Bobby Flay, Jamie Oliver, Umami Burger or Michael Symon’s B Spot? Visit BurgerBusiness.com’s Killer Burger Recipes vault. _________________

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2015’s Top New Burger Joints (So Far)

At the year’s halfway point, it’s clear the burger marketplace is changing. Fewer new independent burger concepts are blossoming but what were fresh indies a few years back are rapidly morphing into regional chains.

Hickory, Plano, Texas

Hickory, Plano, Texas

For example, Bru Burger in Indianapolis was a member of BurgerBusiness’s Class of 2012. Since then it has opened in Lexington, Ky., will open soon Carmel, Ind., and reportedly plans to open in Cincinnati. Burger Bach was an original in 2012, a New-Zealand-inspired burger concept off the beaten path in Richmond, Va. Now it has locations in Glen Allen, Va., and Durham, N.C. Citizen Burger Bar in Charlottesville, Va., also in the Class of ’12, is now outside Washington, D.C., in Clarendon, Va., and likely isn’t finished growing. None of these brands is.

The energy driving the burger business is coming from concepts such as these as well as young-and-growing chains such as Burger 21, BurgerFi, Bareburger, The Burger’s Priest, Byron, Shake Shack, Umami and many others. McDonald’s won’t grow this year; Burger King’s U.S. count has declined for several years.

That doesn’t mean the burger category’s cupboard of new concepts is bare. Here are 18 concepts that opened their doors in the first half of the year. They display the diversity of the category, ranging from small quick-service burger joints to pub-style burger bars.

Burger Circus

Burger Circus, Hong Kong

Burger Bandit
Lynbrook, N.Y.
Famous initially for being owned by Kim Kardashian pal Jonathan Cheban, Burger Bandit wants to be known more for burgers. These include a “bigger than a slider but smaller than a burger” Burger Bandit for $2.29. A full-size Classic cheeseburger is $5.29. There’s a “Boardwalk-Style” hot dog, beer and wine.

Burger Circus
Hong Kong
Burgers are an international language and Burger Circus is fluent. The American Acrobat burger is a 5-oz. beef patty with Wisconsin Cheddar, lettuce, tomato and house sauce. Order The Whole Show and that beef patty is topped with Wisconsin Cheddar, pickled beetroot, lettuce, tomato, spicy mayo and a fried egg.

Department of Meat & Social Affairs
Northampton, England
The basic burger is two quarter-pound (from Bedfordshire) beef patties with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. There’s a Pulled Pork Burger, Pork Chorizo Sliders and, for nonmeat eaters a Halloumi & Mushroom Burger. Social affairs include lots of local music.
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The Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers 6/19

Two major burger culinary trends are in evidence with the builds on this week’s list. Look at the variety of “healthy” toppings here. In addition to a house-made tomato relish, you see watercress, basil, fennel, micro greens, pickled vegetables, sprouts and lots of arugula. None of those ingredients was in most burger pantries a decade ago. The second trend is the continuing ascendance of aïolis as the top spread choice. On just these seven burgers you’ll see a house aïoli plus chimichurri, sambal and two garlic versions of the sauce. Order up.

Victory Burger Golden Tomato Burger

Victory Burger, Oakland, Calif.
Five Dot Ranch burger with Golden Tomato Relish made with Riverdog Farms tomatoes, chilies and fennel, balsamic-basil mayo and watercress on an Acme kaiser roll

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Burger King Creates Red Burger in Japan

Burger King Red BurgerBurger King customers in Japan are seeing red. The chain, which last year introduced Kuro Shogun burgers with black cheese on black buns, now is doing the trick in red with a new burger and chicken sandwich.

The bright red Aka Samurai Beef and Aka Samurai Chicken owe the color of their buns and cheese to the inclusion of tomato powder, according to a company release, first reported by Kotaku. The burger comes with a grilled onion slice plus “Angry Sauce” flavored with doubanjiang spicy chili bean paste. The chicken gets lettuce and tomato.

The Aka Samurai Beef is priced at ¥540 or roughly $4.35. It’s ¥640 or $5.15 with a Coke and ¥870 or $7.00 in a combo meal with medium fries and a drink.

McDonald’s Tries “Customized” Fries

[Update: A McDonald’s spokesperson says Shakin’ Flavor Fries are a local-option LTO that isn’t now planned for a total rollout.]
McDonald’s is trying Shakin’ Flavor Fries again, but this time with a new positioning that’s in line with its Create Your Taste platform and with millennials’ affinity for DIY dining.McDonald's Shakin Fries

The Shakin’ Flavor Fries are available now in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, promoted with a “Which Shakin’ Flavor Are You?” Twitter-based giveaway contest. A packet of seasonings is available at no extra charge with fries purchase. Flavors are Garlic Parmesan, Zesty Ranch and Spicy Buffalo. These are the same flavors tested last year in St. Louis.

But what’s new here is that Shakin’ Flavor Fries now have their own webpage on the McDonald’s USA site—suggesting a wider rollout is likely soon—and a new pitch: “Customize Our World Famous Fries With Your Favorite Flavor.” McDonald’s did not respond to a request for information on possible expansion of Shakin’ Flavor Fries.

McD_Australia.Hacks300In February, McDonald’s tested seasoning packets in Nevada (with Chipotle BBQ swapped in for Spicy Buffalo flavor) as a way to add flavor and spicy to Chicken McNuggets as well as fries. The seasoning concept has been a frequent LTO at McDonald’s in Asia—often called Shake Shake Fries—and other areas.

Customization has become a major menu mantra for McDonald’s here and elsewhere. The Create Your Taste burger-customization platform soon will be available across Australia. McDonald’s there also is using Facebook to promote “Hacks by Macca’s,” which are ways to customize core menu items. The latest (shown at l.) suggests asking for quarter-pound beef patties on a Big Mac (at extra cost, of course) instead of the usual 1.6-oz. patties. Burger customization platforms have migrated to France, Kuwait, Singapore and a few other market.

In the U.S. McDonald’s also is testing TasteCrafted, a smaller version of Create Your Taste customization.

Monday Meeting: Secret Sauce, Arnold, Etc.

Burger King Chicken Fries SauceYou never know when Burger King’s mascot may show up at a sporting event or when a new item might silently materialize onto its menu. There’s a new dipping sauce for Burger King’s Chicken Fries on its menu beginning today. The flavor is a blend of honey, mustard and BBQ. It’s not a “secret menu” item but the new sauce won’t be offered. You just have to know it’s there, which you do now, and ask for it.

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Also arriving today is a new burger at Red Robin, another in its string of movie tie-ins. According to GrubGrade, the Genisys Burger owes its name if not its ingredient list to “Terminator Genisys,” which opens July 1. The burger packs a punch worthy of Arnold Schwarzenegger: jalapeňo aïoli, roasted jalapeňos, pepper-Jack cheese, bacon, tomatoes, avocado and romaine lettuce on a jalapeňo-cornmeal bun.Red Robin Genisys Burger

Red Robin likes he-man movies, if only because they invite oversize burgers. Last summer the chain had the “Hercules”-inspired Colossus Burger. The previous year it was the Berserker Burger, tied to “The Wolverine.”

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Canadian menus are in a nationalist mood. Tim Hortons has a new morning item—the Canadian Back Bacon Breakfast Sandwich—that it is promoting online with a series of “Great Canadian Moments.”

Burger King's Hot PotThis comes as McDonald’s promotes its month-long “Great Canadian Taste Adventure” menu tour of “the Flavours of Canada.” These include a Maple & Bacon Poutine (for Quebec), Cottage Country Chicken sandwich (Ontario) and, beginning June 17 through June 30, the McLobster (saluting the Atlantic provinces). Curiously, McDonald’s also is saluting Canada in Italy, also with McLobster.

Meanwhile, Canadian burger chain Triple O’s has introduced a Grilled Chicken Feta Burger with a grilled British Columbia-sourced chicken breast, tomato, iceberg lettuce, red onion slices, feta cheese and yogurt-cucumber-dill sauce.

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I can’t guess the inspiration for the Breakfast Hot Pot, now on the menu at Burger King in the UK. It has scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and cheese layered in what looks to be a plastic beverage glass.

BK’s “Summer Barbecue” entrees in the UK are a Crunch BBQ Whopper, Spicy BBQ Steakhouse burger and BBQ Jerk TenderCrisp chicken sandwich, with Nacho Cheese Bites on the side.

This Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers

This week’s aggregation of interesting burgers gathers ideas from outside the U.S. This wasn’t by design; I simply kept adding intriguing burgers through the week as I always do and then found that almost all that I liked best were foreign. There are burgers here from Canada, Scotland, Italy and England, evidencing the culinary sophistication that burger bars outside the U.S. have now. Next week they may all be from Pittsburgh. Burgers are that unpredictable. And delightful.

Fatto-Bene, Milan

Fatto-Bene, Milan, Italy
Fassona beef, Datterini tomato confit, Granny Smith apple, arugula and yogurt dressing

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Golden Arches Adds Two Top Execs

Robert GibbsMcDonald’s Corp. bolstered its executive ranks, naming two experienced executives to executive vice president posts.

Silvia Lagnado was named EVP-global chief marketing officer. The post had been vacant since the departure of Neil Golden in 2013. Global Chief Brand Officer Kevin Newell had filled in since.

Lagnado most recently served as CMO of Bacardi Limited. Earlier she held several posts at Unilever, including EVP of its Savoury business unit. She created Dove’s award-winning “Campaign for Real Beauty” initiative.

Silvia LagnadoAdditionally, Robert Gibbs joined McDonald’s Corp. as EVP-global chief communications officer, succeeding Bridget Coffing, who is retiring. Gibbs, who served as President Obama’s press secretary during his first term, most recently headed The Incite Agency, a strategic communications advisory firm.

“Robert and Silvia are both highly respected, talented leaders who will bring a wealth of experience and outside perspective to McDonald’s as we build a more modern, progressive burger company,” McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said in announcing the hires. “Returning excitement to our business proposition and brand is foundational to our turnaround plan, and Robert and Silvia—with their respective teams—will play critical roles in bringing this strategy to life.”

McDonald’s Tries “Signature Burger”

McDonald's Signature Burger testMcDonald’s is creating new menu items again. In selected markets the chain is trying out a “Signature Burger,” a new low-price entry that anchors what’s been rechristened the “Lovin’ Value Menu.”

The Signature Burger doesn’t bring new ingredients to the McDonald’s pantry. It combines two regular burger patties with white Cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce and creamy Dijon mustard sauce. It’s on a potato bun that’s a step up from most of the burgers on what used to be the Dollar Menu & More.

Test drive-thru menu boards don’t mention the Dollar Menu & More. Instead they promote the Lovin’ Value Menu’s “Mini Meals,” which are higher-margin combo meals involving items that were on the Dollar Menu & More. The Signature Burger is $2.49 by itself (prices may vary). But with small fries and small soft drink it tops the new Mini Meal category at $3.99. With a not-so-mini medium soft drink & fries the price is $4.69. That brings it close to the $4.99 a la carte price for the premium-tier Third Pound Sirloin burgers.

Other Mini Meal combos promoted up high on the drive-thru menu board being tried are a $3.39 McDouble Mini Meal, $2.99 Cheeseburger Mini Meal, $3.49 Double Cheeseburger Mini Meal and $2.99 McChicken Mini Meal. These items also are listed lower on the menu board at their a la carte prices (again, not with the Dollar Menu & More name), a duplication that runs counter to the menu streamlining and simplification McDonald’s says it is seeking.

Another interesting element of the Lovin’ Value Menu in test is a Classic Pack boxed meal. If you’re a longtime BurgerBusiness.com reader, you know I’ve been talking about multi-person boxed meals since McDonald’s Australia introduced the Dinner Box in 2010. It has taken five years, but the boxed multi-person meal finally seems ready for the big time in the U.S. after spreading just about everywhere else in the global McDonald’s system. As tested, the $13.99 Classic Pack has two Quarter Pounder with Cheese or two Big Macs (or mix and match) plus two medium fries, three sauces and a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets. The menu board say it “serves 4” though two young adults with hearty appetites might disagree.

In his May 4 video speech outlining the beginnings of his turnaround plan, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook promised, “Stronger insights underpinning the development of a compelling and sustainable everyday value proposition this summer to drive sales.” This “Lovin’ Value Menu” platform with its Mini Meal combos and Signature Burger certainly may be parts of that.

McDonald’s summer menu also will see the return of Frozen Strawberry Lemonade plus a new beverage: a McCafé Green Apple Smoothie.