“It has been a huge hit for us. The brave don’t hesitate to give it a try but others are often urged by others who have tried it and loved it,” says Mike Meehan, co-owner (with Chris Dodge) of Fat Guy’s Burger Bar in Tulsa, Okla. “I would say that 90% of the people who have tried it have loved it and order it again and again.”
What could be such a cult hit when burgers of all styles and excesses have become commonplace? It’s Fat Guy’s Peanut Butter Bacon Burger, a $7.75 combo of those three ingredients that Tulsa burger fans clamor for. “It is one of our biggest selling specialty burgers, second only to our Fat n Juicy,” Meehan says. “We have a night dedicated to the PBBB where we sell them for $5 each. We have people who can’t wait for Wednesday night.”
Peanut butter on a burger? Absolutely. And with the prospect for skyrocketing prices for beef, chicken, lamb and pork into 2013, peanut butter may become the protein of choice (and economics) in the near future. Peanut butter matches well with all the standard meat proteins, including bacon, and with veggie burger patties. You’ll find it coexists nicely with ketchup, mustard, mayo and other spreads.
Apparently it works with global cuisines, too: “We have another version of it that our chef created. We call it PBBB Thai Style,” says Meehan. “We do everything the same as the standard PBBB but we top it with a slice of grilled pineapple, fresh jalapeňos, cilantro and sriracha hot sauce. The taste of this burger is mind blowing; people can’t believe the flavor you can create out of a burger after trying it.”
Burger joints across the country are marrying the nostalgia of PB&J with the timeless goodness of ground beef and selling them out. Of course there are skeptics, as evidenced by the “Trust Us! It’s Good!” menu exhortation with the Peanut Butter Burger at Bukowski Tavern in Cambridge, Mass. The Bad Apple in Chicago makes a similar menu promise for its $9 Elvis’ Last Supper Burger (bacon and peanut butter).
The Elvis connection is common. At Des Moines’ Zombie Burger & Drink Lab, the Undead Elvis burger combines peanut butter, fried banana, bacon, American cheese, an egg amd mayo. Depending on how undead you want to be, it’s priced at $5.99, $7.99 or $9.99. For the $10.99 Graceland Burger, KC’s Bar-B-Que Rib Shack in Manchester, N.H., opts for chunky peanut butter, mayo, bacon and onion. Boston Burger Co.’s The King ($8.75) uses the traditional trio of fried banana, bacon and peanut butter
Like Elvis memorabilia, peanut butter is an American staple. Annual U.S. sales top $3 billion (excluding Walmart sales) according to SymphonyIRI data reported by Bloomberg. Jif has been the top seller since 1981; Skippy is No. 2.
Need a dozen or so more PB Burger ideas? Here’s how some other burger joints are putting peanut butter to work as a topping:
Peanut-Butter-Pickle-Bacon Burger ($7.95)
Sweet and savory with bacon, smoky house sauce, mayo, grilled onion and pickle
Killer Burger, Portland, Ore.
Nutty Professor ($9)
Peanut butter, bacon, jalapeňos and onion
Crave Real Burgers, Castle Rock, Colo.
PB&J Burger ($9.25)
Double patty, pimento cheese, bacon and tomato jam
West Egg Café, Atlanta
Peanut Butter & Jellousy ($10.45)
Thick-cut bacon, creamy peanut butter and strawberry jelly on a honey-wheat bun
Slater’s 50/50, Anaheim Hills, Calif.
Angus beef, bacon, creamy peanut butter, green leaf lettuce, Roma tomato and red onion
Easy Slider Truck, Dallas
Hold The Phone ($11.88)
Peanut butter, cream cheese and Jack cheese
The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro, Guelph, Ontario
Smores Burger ($6.99)
Peanut butter, marshmallow and Nutella spread
River City Café, Myrtle Beach S.C.
Peanut Butter & Jelly ($8.49)
Creamy peanut butter, strawberry jelly and bacon
My Burger Bar, Amherst, NY
The Lip Smacker ($8.50)
Beef, smoked bacon and Cheddar cheese slathered with creamy peanut butter; served on a kaiser roll
Wells Brothers Bar & Grill, Tallahassee, Fla.
Barrie Burger ($6.50)
Quarter-pound beef patty, bacon, American cheese and natural chunky peanut butter
AJ Bombers, Milwaukee
PB & B Burger ($9)
With organic peanut butter and bacon
Whitman’s, New York City
Gourmet Burger ($12.99)
Pretzel roll with peanut butter, fried egg, bacon and Cheddar
The Beer Bistro, Chicago
P.B. & B. Burger ($9.99)
All-natural peanut butter and applewood-smoked bacon on an 8 oz. burger topped with caramelized onions on a toasted ciabatta roll
Titletown Brewing Co., Green Bay Wis.