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 Wisconsin Provolone Portobello Pesto Burger shown below!

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Visit the Killer Burger Recipe Vault

Want the recipe for the Double Cheese Poutine 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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‘Pay With Lovin” Ads Earn Little Payback

Kindness500McDonald’s “Pay With Lovin’” campaign launched during the Super Bowl got people talking, but not necessarily positively about the chain, according to a study released today from YouGov BrandIndex.

Giving free meals in exchange for “random acts of lovin’” earned McDonald’s the highest word-of-mouth gain of all Super Bowl advertisers. The report finds 29% of adults saying they talked about McDonald’s with friends and family over the past two weeks. This is up from the 24% level McDonald’s had before the campaign

On the day the campaign broke (Feb. 1), 36% of consumers 18 and older said they would consider McDonald’s for their next QSR food purchase. The good intentions not only lasted, they grew: 11 days later 39% were saying they would consider McDonald’s. How well purchase consideration was converted to actual additional purchases (offsetting more than 1 million free meals) won’ be known until McDonald’s February sales results next month.

But the report does conclude that consumer perceptions of the McDonald’s brand improved very little as a result of the campaign. YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score comes from responses to the question, “If you heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” McDonald’s Buzz score actually dipped briefly to -1 (slightly negative) before rising to a 3 by Valentine’s Day.

YouGov BrandIndex interviews 4,300 people each weekday from a representative US population sample, more than 1.5 million interviews per year. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 2MM individuals.

Burger Concepts Among Top Emerging Brands

Two growing, Texas-based burger chains rank among the overall top 10 in a report on “The Top Emerging Brands” from Bellwether Food Group, Czar Metrics and Johns Hopkins University.

Austin-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar ranks No. 3 and Dallas-based Twisted Root Burger Co. is No. 9 overall among the emerging brands in all categories studied, primarily using social-media data. Beginning with the list of brands identified in the previous year’s study, the researchers added brands with between two and 25 units identified as having been growing over the past year.

Top10EmergingThe primary data evaluated were Yelp and Facebook reviews of the brands plus check-ins and repeat check-ins on Foursquare. Researchers say they also were able to identify points of consumer enthusiasm for brands on social media—highly charged words, exclamation points and dialog—used to develop an Enthusiasm Rating that factored into final rankings. Hopdoddy, Twisted Root and Umami ranked among the top 10 in consumer enthusiasm.

In the end, the report identifies 37 emerging brands in eight restaurants categories (see the complete list here). In the Emerging Burger category, the top emerging brands are identified as Burger Lounge, Burger 21, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Shake Shack, Twisted Root and Umami.

Even for those burger brands not part of the study or on the final list, there’s good news. “When we look at that Enthusiasm Rating, the Emerging Burgers category came in the second highest,” Bellwether Founding Partner Jon Jameson told BurgerBusiness.com. “The only thing that exceeded it was Emerging American. I think it speaks to burgers’ strong and continuing popularity.” The Emerging Burgers category also was nosed out for the top score in average check-ins through Foursquare.

“Made fresh in-house; quality ingredients; freshly prepared; gourmet toppings and gourmet fries” were among the qualities consumers look for in a burger bar and were what helped put brands at the top in this study [which can be read here], Jameson said. The data show that “the consumer is willing to pay more for a great burger with interesting toppings, and for a great shake as well.”

The Inevitable ’50 Shades of Meat’ Burger

Are we losing our burger mojo? America used to be on the cutting edge of novelty burgers, yet here comes a second UK burger playing off the awful “Fifty Shades of Grey” buzz. The Custom House in Barnstaple, North Devon, last month offered up the “15 Shades of Bacon” burger. The £15 ($23) tab got you a 2,500-calorie burger with15 types of bacon (including prosciutto, pancetta, turkey bacon, chicken-fried bacon and more) plus bacon-flavored-mayo-infused cream cheese and bacon-dusted fries.

Bread Meats Bread in Glasgow, Scotland, rightly believed it could do better. The result is the “Fifty Shades of Meat” burger. The build: Double helpings of pork sausage patties, topped with Ogleshield cheese and slow-cooked BBQ pulled pork, vanilla-candied bacon, grilled Nurnberg bratwursts smothered in Honey Apple Ketchup and a drizzle of ‘Nduja (spreadable Italian pork sausage) aïoli. Maybe not 50 shades, but enough. Leave a comment if your burger bar’s riding the “50 Shades” bandwagon.

BreadMeats_50Shades_600

Valentine’s Day Celebration Burgers

Valentine’s Day is Saturday, of course, and many burger joints have put together themed promotions for the day (I like Zinburger’s “Four Shades of Grape” wine flights). But I like the places that have concocted special burgers for the occasion. Some examples:

Rockit Burger Bar

Rockit Burger Bar

At Rockit Burger Bar in Chicago, Chef Amanda Downing has created a special heart shaped Mac N Cheese “Heart” Attack Burger. That’s Rockit’s signature quarter-pound Black Angus patty between two fried, heart-shaped mac-and-cheese buns with lettuce, tomato, scallions and sriracha ketchup and served with truffle tots for $15.

The Valentine’s Burger at 8 Oz. Burger in Seattle is house-blend grass-fed beef, sautéed kale, shaved truffles, fried mozzarella House blend grass-fed beef, sautéed kale, shaved truffles, fried mozzarella, raspberry marmalade, truffle aïoli and fresh thyme.

At A&B Burgers in Salem, Mass., diners will have three Valentine’s Day Burgers to choose from (though the names all are broken dreams). The choices are:
Broken Hearted Winkler Burger (fig jam, burrata & bacon);
He’s a Pig Anyway (deep-fried pork belly, arugula, over-easy egg and fried onion strings);
My Messy Break Up (turkey patty, house-made chili and A&B’s coleslaw). Click here to continue reading Valentine’s Day Celebration Burgers

Burger King Spices Up as Fish Gets Current

Burger King next week will introduce a spiced-up version of its core fish sandwich, making it just the latest burger chain to gussie up their fish dish for Lent, which spans Feb. 18 to April 4 this year.

BK Spicy Big Fish

BK Spicy Big Fish

Many QSRs have changed menu-marketing strategies to focus on core menu items rather than just on flashy limited-time specials. Last week, Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick told analysts that the chain had imbalanced its marketing by directing 80% of its media spending in 2014 toward the high end, and 80% of that to LTOs. That will change, he said, just as it has at McDonald’s, Burger King and others.

But because chains’ fish sandwiches are core items, Lent provides an opportunity to dress up these historically bland offerings and make a little marketplace noise.

Burger King’s new Spicy Big Fish sandwich is 100% White Alaskan Pollock breaded with crispy panko breading topped with spicy creamy sauce and pickle chips and served on a toasted brioche bun. The sandwich will be priced at $3.69 and will be included in Burger King’s “2 for $5” promotion, the chain confirmed. The regular Big Fish Sandwich will continue to be available as well. Click here to continue reading Burger King Spices Up as Fish Gets Current

KFC Offers Beef/Pork Burger in Japan

KFC for the second time is stepping beyond its chicken home territory, but this is the first time it has tried a beef entrée.

KFC_Japan_BistroHamburg3In Japan, KFC is actually stepping outside its whole quick-service brand personality. Visitors to its site are greeted by the image of a formal waiter saying, “Bienvenue au Bistro KFC.” But the real departure is the introduction of the Bistro Hamburg, a 30% pork/70% beef patty with mushroom demi-glace on a burger bun.

A TV commercial (below) shows Shuzo Kishida, chef-owner of Tokyo fine-dining restaurant Quintessence, tasting and approving the burger. The burger is priced at ¥490 ($4.11 US) a la carte or ¥770 ($6.46) in a combo meal with coleslaw and beverage.

Last year, KFC offered a BoxMaster Fish sandwich in France during Lent and it has occasionally menued a fish sandwich in Indonesia. But beef and pork are a departure that should give global burger chains pause.

KFC long has labeled its premium chicken sandwiches as “burgers,” especially in markets such as Australia and the UK, where the menus skew to sandwiches, boxed meals and Twister wraps rather than chicken parts. Click here to continue reading KFC Offers Beef/Pork Burger in Japan

Trend Forward: Montreal’s Poutine Week Winners

Poutine, Canada’s comfort food, likely will be on the menu at most top burger bars here within a few years. It’s served in many places now. Don’t fight it. Poutine—traditionally fries, cheese curds and gravy—goes great with a burger and, like a burger, can be dressed up a million ways. As proof see last week’s Poutine Week celebration in Montreal where 49 restaurants, many of them the best burger bars, offered up a special poutine for the week. For a sense of what can be done with the dish, here are the Poutine week winners:

#1 Dirty Dogs: Boss Poutine Its famous duck-based sauce, house-made Dr. Pepper chili, onions, red cabbage coleslaw and a drizzle of Dirty Dogs mustard.

#1 Dirty Dogs: Boss Poutine
Its famous duck-based sauce, house-made Dr. Pepper chili, onions, red cabbage coleslaw and a drizzle of Dirty Dogs mustard.

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#2 Shawarmaz: ShawarmazManic Beef or chicken, with potatoes, garlic and cheese. Chicken comes with a vegetarian sauce; beef is served with grilled onions, parsley and special sauce.

#2 Shawarmaz: ShawarmazManic
Beef or chicken, with potatoes, garlic and cheese. Chicken comes with a vegetarian sauce; beef is served with grilled onions, parsley and special sauce.

#3 Copper Branch: Healthy Vegan Poutine Freshly oven-baked fries topped with a portobello and cremini mushroom sauce made with organic carrot juice, organic miso, and coconut milk; finished with melted Daiya cheese.

#3 Copper Branch: Healthy Vegan Poutine
Freshly oven-baked fries topped with a portobello and cremini mushroom sauce made with organic carrot juice, organic miso, and coconut milk; finished with melted Daiya cheese.

McDonald’s Taking Japan to Hawaii

McD_Japan_HawaiianPork275What do you do when same-store sales plunge 38.6% in a month? You cue the Don Ho music and go to Hawaii.

McD_Japan_LocoMoco275McDonald’s Holding Co. (Japan) Ltd. is having a tough time. This week it reported a net $186 million loss for 2014, its first loss in 11 years, the result of revelations in July that it bought expired meat. For January it announced the 38.6% crash in comp sales following multiple reports of contaminated food (including a tooth found in fries).

Hoping the brighten the mood, the chain next week introduces a new Hawaiian-influenced menu as part of a World Mac promotion. Joining the menu Feb. 10 is a Hawaiian Barbecue Pork burger (at l.), with a pork patty topped with four-hour-slow-cooked pulled pork, coleslaw and pickles.

Loco Moco is a Hawaiian favorite, usually made with white rice, a burger patty, fried egg and brown gravy. McDonald’s version for the Japanese menu, the Loco Moco Burger (at r.), has two burger patties, a cooked egg, lettuce and gravy sauce. Completing the special menu are berry-topped pancakes, a pineapple pie and McShake Banana.