Fast-food chain Sonic has released a hybrid burger at locations across the country. The patty is about 70 percent beef and 30 percent mushroom — the mushroom is there to reduce calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat, among other undesirables in a traditional burger, getting the caloric count down to about 350.
The roll-out comes after the chain tested the burger, the “Signature Slinger,” last year where it was met with positive feedback.
“The Signature Slingers is 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,” Scott Uehlein, Sonic’s vice president of product innovation and development, said in a statement.
The blended burger concept isn’t unique to Sonic, but it’s not that widespread yet, either. Sonic is the first chain to take a hybrid burger like this nationwide, but numerous other restaurants feature blended burgers on their menus. Men’s Health reports that Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Rutgers are adding blended burgers to their menus and that Stanford University serves “only the alt burgers in its cafeterias.”
Blended burgers don’t just reduce the “bad” in burgers; they also offer fiber, antioxidants, and other plant-based benefits.
But there’s another benefit from the mushroom patties, too. “By using a patty made up of roughly 25-30% mushrooms, the environmental footprint of a burger shrinks,” notes Fast Company.
“Beef is the most resource-intensive food that we eat in the U.S.,” Richard Waite, an associate in the food program at the nonprofit World Resources Institute, which works with food companies to push for more sustainable foods, told the website.
According to the World Resources Institute, if all of the roughly 10 billion burgers consumed in the U.S. every year contained 30 percent mushrooms instead of 100 percent beef, that would reduce GHGs by 10.5 million tons — the equivalent of removing two million cars from the road. That would save more than 80 billion gallons of water every year and revert a significant amount of land used for factory farming to more regenerative practices.
But Sonic customers aren’t hitting the drive-thru for the planet; they’re primarily looking for a burger that still tastes like a burger, Fast Company notes.
“Because it’s still mostly beef, it still tastes like the real thing, albeit juicier.”
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