June 21, 2007

The Panhandle of Texas flips the biggest burgers

April is the cruellest month; or so said my favorite poet, T.S. Eliot.

It's the definitely the cruellest month for Texans trying to be the RightSize. That's because Mooyah Burgers opened in April, serving the biggest burgers at the lowest price. Burgers as big as
¾-pound for $3.95. Of course, that comes with french fries.

What it doesn't come with, is any nutritional information. You can't find information in the store or on the web site. The new restaurants is "just burgers, just fries, just fresh". We'll add: "just no (calorie) data".

Would Texans be lining up for the latest big burger bargain if they knew it contained at least 700
calories. Fries are at least 500 calories.

QSRweb enthusiastically reports on the big burger epidemic sweeping the country. (Ironically obesity will definitely kill Americans this year. Bird flu none. Which do you know more about?)

From QSRweb:
When Robert Andersen decided to start a new hamburger chain, he recognized one big trend in the QSR industry — bigger burgers. And the reason was simple, Andersen said: Bigger burgers are of a higher quality than the thin patties that dominated the fast-food market for so long.
Capitalizing on the trend, Andersen opened Plano, Tex.-based Mooyah Burgers in April, serving burgers as large as ¾-pound. The response has been overwhelming, Andersen said.

And why not?

According to Datassentials, a Chicago-based menu-research firm, the availability of extra-large burgers, at least ½-pound in size, is highest in quick-serve and mid-scale restaurants, with just under 40 percent of operators offering at least one extra-large burger. Additionally, nearly 75 percent of all burger operations offer at least one extra-large burger item, while 40 percent of coffeehouses, bakeries, ice cream shops, and other food establishments also offer extra-large burgers.

But size is not enough to satisfy the public; it also has to be affordable. The typical Mooyah burger sells for $3.95; the average price for an extra-large burger in the quick-serve space is $4.42, compared to $9.90 in fine dining restaurants.

Despite a wave of health consciousness that has rolled across the nation, when American consumers walk into restaurant and look at the menu, more often than not they zero in on the 1/3-pound burgers and larger.

It may seem contradictory but that’s the way it is, said Jeff Jablow, director of training and menu development for Cheeburger, a 21-year-old burger chain with 69 locations.
“We offer salads, chicken, and meatless products like the portabella mushroom sandwich, but our No. one item is our burger, and the ½-pound sells as well as the ¼-pound,” said Jablow. “When it comes to burgers it’s one of those menu items that will never go away and, like everything else, we want the biggest and the best.”

In the 1950s, the industry standard for a hamburger was 1/10-pound, and that didn’t change until the 1980s when the ¼-pound hamburger was introduced, said Brad Haley, executive vice president of marketing for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.

Haley said during the decades when the fast-food industry clung to the skinny patty, the casual-dining segment, restaurants such as TGI Friday’s, Chili’s and Applebee’s, emerged with bigger- and higher-quality burgers, paving the way for QSRs to add larger burgers to their menus.

Haley said the new hamburger-industry standard is 1/3-pound when previously the ¼-pound burger was considered large.

Andersen said it’s all about the experience for customers. And when they leave the house with the goal of purchasing a burger, diets and weight worries are left behind.

“We talk about eating healthy so logically that makes sense, but we really eat with our hearts,” Andersen said. “And you’d think it’s just big old guys like me eating burgers, but we probably have a higher percentage of females than males and that’s been the most amazing thing.”
So in the 50s normal was a tenth of a pound hamburger, 30 years later it was 1/4 pounder, and now, just 20 years later it's 1/3 of a pound hamburger. Put that into a trend line and soon you'll only be able to buy a hamburger that can feed an entire family.

Fifty years ago just a minority of Americans were overweight. Now it's the majority overweight and obese.

With all these health problems and Americans putting their heads in the ground (or is it hamburgers in the mouths), it's reminding me of where I heard T.S. Eliot's famous stanza. In the "Waste Land."

By the way, Texas is the largest state in the lower 48. Its citizens only have to beat 3 other states to be the fattest people in America.


2 comments:

Leslie said...

the coppell location has the nutrition guide

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