Despite heavy competition, the hamburger continues to be the sandwich of choice for most Americans, although the way we eat it is changing.
Sure, Americans eat a lot of turkey sandwiches. And market research firm NPD Group last week touted the emergence of the breaded chicken sandwich “out of the burger’s shadow.” But those poultry offerings still make paltry challengers to the hamburger.
“Even though breaded chicken sandwiches have caught the eye of foodservice consumers, it’s not like burgers were left at the altar,” the NPD Group said in its press release clucking about chicken sandwiches.
The company noted that the hamburger category “is still at the top and growing, with 9 billion servings ordered at foodservice outlets in the year ending July 2014, a 3 percent increase over last year.”
So burgers may still be a favorite, but they don’t have to be boring. As Restaurant News recently highlighted, here are a few ways Americans are bringing new flavor to an old classic.
Homemade ketchup. Who needs Heinz? Chefs are replacing bottled name-brand ketchup with their own concoctions made with fresh produce. At Plan Check Kitchen + Bar in Los Angeles, executive chef Ernesto Uchimura has created peach ketchup and apricot ketchup, for example.
“We make it so we know what goes in it and control the flavor profile,” Allan Javery, executive chef of Copperwood Tavern in Arlington Va., told Restaurant News. “Ours is richer, smoky and less sweet that the brands that add ton of sugar and corn syrup.”
Beyond barbecue. Sriracha hot chili sauce has been on almost everything else, from potato chips to subs to vodka, so it’s only natural that it’s also one of the fastest-growing burger ingredients, according to research firm Datassential. Sriracha was mentioned 160 percent more on burger menus in spring 2014 compared to menus in fall 2013.
“When it comes to trendy hamburger flavors, consumers are looking for spice,” according to Restaurant News, which also cited poblano and habanero peppers among the fastest-growing menu descriptors.
Going local. Restaurant News found that restaurant chains across the country are aiming to add a geographically inspired twist to their burgers. “The geographical burger trend picked up speed this past summer as chains took different approaches to identifying their burgers’ origins,” the publication wrote.
Red Robin’s Southern Charm burger is made with candied bacon, honey barbecue sauce and a brown-sugar glazed Black Angus beef patty for example, while Zinburger’s Honolulu Baby Burger is topped with charred pineapple and Spam.
So tell us, how do you like your burger? Leave your comments below.
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