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McDonald's tests chef crafted burgers

McDonald's tests chef crafted burgers in San Diego and Burger King plans to bring black buns to the US for the holidays.

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    A McDonald's restaurant is pictured in Encinitas, California, in this file photo taken September 9, 2014.
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Now that the all-day breakfast menu it has been testing is about to go national, McDonald’s San Diego County, Calif.,  co-op is testing three new customizable sandwiches. The initiative is labeled “Chef Crafted Flavors.”

For each of the three, diners can choose the new Buttermilk Crispy Chicken patty, the Artisan Grilled chicken patty or a beef patty. These can be served on what it calls an artisan roll or on a traditional sesame-seed bun. The three flavor options are:

→ Buffalo Bacon: creamy blue cheese sauce with blue cheese crumbles, tangy buffalo sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, tomato and shredded green lettuce;

→ Pico Guacamole: pico de gallo, guacamole, ranch, white Cheddar and leaf lettuce, served with a lime wedge on the side;

→ Maple Bacon Dijon: maple-seasoned bacon, savory grilled onions, slightly sweet honey Dijon sauce, creamy white Cheddar, leaf lettuce.

The additional customization aspect is the option of adding bacon or guacamole to any sandwich, or having additional guacamole or pico de gallo on the side.

As testing in San Diego, two of the three sandwich builds exceed the longstanding $5 ceiling on QSR burger prices. The Pico Guacamole is $4.99; the Maple Bacon Dijon is $5.19; and the Buffalo Bacon build is priced at $5.29.

In a statement, Bob Sutherland, president of San Diego County McDonald’s Owner/Operator’s Association, said, “The Chef Crafted flavors give us yet another way to evolve our menu to meet our customers’ desires and expectations,” said “Whether a customer chooses beef or chicken, artisan roll or the classic sesame-seed bun, these chef-inspired sandwiches are a delicious way to add some variety to our menu.”

McDonald’s San Diego stores began testing the all-day breakfast menu in April.

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McDonald’s CEO Easterbrook said earlier this year that its new menu strategy would be “calm” at the national level “with more energy at the local level.” And here’s how that works: The chain’s Tampa Bay, Fla., co-op has created and is testing its own test chicken sandwich. The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that the local co-op’s 37 franchisees worked with McDonald’s chicken supplier Keystone Foods in Pennsylvania to develop two new chicken burgers.

Both have a patty that’s a 50/50 blend of ground white and dark chicken. The Classic build has red onion, lettuce, tomato and ranch sauce; the Signature has grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and a “tangy and sweet ‘signature’ sauce. Both are served on what McDonald’s officials called a “new ‘gourmet’ bun.” Each is priced at $3.79.

In his May 4, 2015, speech outlining the early aspects of his turnaround plan, Easterbrook promised a company that would be “faster with innovation, smarter in taking risks, bolder with moves that drive transformation. We will execute at a higher cadence, educated with market-leading consumer insight.” He added, “We’re unleashing more entrepreneurial spirit, more risk taking and more innovation across our system.”

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Burger King has its own plans for being innovative and bold: the UK site Burger Lad reportsthat the chain will introduce a black-bun burger in the U.S. for Halloween. An A.1. Smoky Bacon Tendercrisp chicken sandwich and Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake will accompany the black burger, according to the site.

The “Ha.1.loween Whopper” will have a black burger bun like those Burger King has been selling in Asia. The first was a Black Burger in Japan in September 2012, for which bamboo charcoal and squid ink was used to blacken the bun. Currently, Burger King in Japan is offering Kuro Shogun and Kuro Taisho burgers, both on squid-ink-blackened buns with black cheese.

Neither Burger King’s media department nor its outside public relations agency responded to requests for confirmation or comment.

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