Forget the croque-monsieur or the brioche filled with pâte de foie gras. The lowly hamburger has conquered France. Burger sales have boomed in the land of quiche and baguettes, making the quintessential American sandwich the most popular food in the country, according to a study by consulting firm Gira Conseil, cited by Bloomberg.
With France mired in a prolonged economic slump and French consumers apparently looking for lower-cost food options, sales of the sandwiches have soared 40 percent since 2011. Hamburgers – “a food often associated with the unrefined American palate,” as news site France 24 put it – represented nearly half of the 2.14 billion sandwiches sold in the country last year, up from one in nine sandwiches sold in 2000.
Fast-food outlets like McDonald’s, with some 1,300 locations in France, and Quick sold about two-thirds of the burgers bought in the country last year, but more upscale outlets have gotten in on the boom as well. Three quarters of France’s 110,000 restaurants now list burgers on their menus, according to the new report, and the sandwich has become more popular than steak or fish dishes in a third of sit-down restaurants. Next we’ll hear that the French have started referring to their frites as “freedom fries.”
A July 2012 report by market researcher NPD Group found that the French eat 14 burgers per person a year, second in Europe behind the English, who eat 17 burgers on average. "The burger is often offered in restaurants at a more attractive price than other dishes,” NPD’s Christine Tartanson said in a release that summer (according to a Google translation). “In these times of economic hardship, where consumers continue to watch their spending, the burger is an alternative very good value for money as well as being the equivalent of a real hot dish.”
Clearly, it’s only gotten hotter since then.
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