In a first for national quick-service chains, Oklahoma City-based Sonic Drive-In said Thursday it would roll out a lower calorie, environmentally friendlier burger in which part of the beef in the patty is substituted with mushrooms.
Starting at $1.99 and at 340 calories, the Sonic Signature Slinger will be available nationwide through April 22. The patty is 75 percent beef and 25 percent cooked mushrooms, Scott Uehlein, the chain’s vice president of product innovation and development, told NRN.
The 3,500-unit chain first tested a version of this type of blended burger in select markets for a 60-day run starting at the end of last August and marketed it for $2.59 as a premium steakhouse-style burger, in a simple build including lettuce and tomato.
In a press release announcing the launch of the new burger, Uehlein called it "a first-of-its-kind fast food cheeseburger, which delivers the juicy, savory deliciousness you expect from a burger in a way that makes you feel like you’re getting away with something. Adding mushrooms right into the burger patty amps up the incredible flavors of the 100-percent pure beef and seasonings you get in each bite. The burger truly raises the bar for every other restaurant.”
Two versions of the Slingers will be rolled out systemwide on March 5. The Classic Sonic Signature Slinger will be topped with lettuce, tomato, diced onions, crinkle-cut dill chips, mayonnaise and melted American cheese, all on a brioche bun. The Bacon Melt Sonic Signature Slinger will have bacon, melted cheese and mayonnaise on a brioche bun.
The concept of the Blended Burger was first put forward in 2011 by the Mushroom Council, the trade body of cultivated mushroom growers, and the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Menus R & D Collaborative. The cause was soon picked up by the James Beard Foundation which, along with the CIA, touted “blended burgers” for their superior carbon footprint, as mushrooms produce far fewer greenhouse gases than beef.
The CIA has featured them prominently at its annual Menus of Change conference that seeks to make our food systems more sustainable and more healthful.
The Beard Foundation has sponsored competitions each year among independent chefs to make the most delicious burger containing 25 percent mushrooms in the patty.
The Mushroom Council also worked with Sonic to develop the Slinger.
“We are excited to be a partner on the new Signature Slingers, which brings together the craveability of pure beef with the juiciness of mushrooms, creating a great tasting cheeseburger that guests will only be able to get at Sonic,” Mushroom Council president Bart Minor said in Sonic’s release announcing the new product.
“The trend of blending mushrooms into a burger patty has been atop a number of trend lists this year, and we can’t wait for guests to experience Sonic’s uniquely delicious creation.”
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March 1, 2018: This story has been updated to correct the origins of the "blended burger" concept, which was developed by the Mushroom Council in conjunction with the Culinary Institute of America's Healthy Menus R&D Collaborative.