This past April Fool’s Day, Culver’s did what restaurants around the country often do—it teased a unicorn item to generate social buzz. The imaginary “CurderBurger” produced such a response, however, Culver’s decided to bring it to menus for one day only—on National Cheese Curd Day (October 15).
Available nationwide, it will feature a Deluxe ButterBurger topped with golden fried cheese.
Culver’s Director of Menu Development Quinn Adkins filled QSR in on the how the classic brand brought a fictional craving to life.
What makes this burger special?
The delicious crown of golden fried cheese is what makes this burger one of a kind. The cheese crown is made up of a blend of yellow and white Cheddar Cheese curds all surrounded by crispy seasoned breadcrumbs. We’re incredibly proud of our Wisconsin Cheese Curds and our relationship with Wisconsin dairy, so the CurderBurger is just another way for us to showcase our trademark quality and Wisconsin roots.
Beyond the burger itself, the way the CurderBurger came into existence is a story worth telling. It all began as an April Fools’ Day prank we posted on social media – but when guests made it clear that they wanted it to be a real menu item, we found a way to surprise and delight them and give them exactly what they wanted. And what better time to deliver it than on October 15: National Cheese Curd Day.
And why does it work, from a flavor perspective?
The CurderBurger takes two guest favorites—the Culver’s Deluxe and Wisconsin Cheese Curds—and combines them into one delicious, cheesy sandwich. From a flavor perspective, the CurderBurger is an evolution of our classic ButterBurger, but adds an additional savory component with our signature blend of herbs and spices, a textural contrast with the fried crown and a tremendous visual dynamic.
What was the R&D process like? How many attempts did it take to get it right?
This was a personal project of love. It was developed in three months, starting in late May after the menu team saw all the attention the April Fools’ message received. The extraordinary development speed was made possible by the talent and dedication of our team, along with the strength of our relationships with our manufacturing and supplier network. Without our strategic suppliers, we wouldn’t have been able to make this a reality by National Cheese Curd Day.
For all Culver’s new menu items, delivering a great product to our guests is our primary objective, so that has to be part of the design process from the beginning. Guests have high expectations for their Culver’s experience, and we always strive to give them exactly that. But for this item in particular, we wanted to “wow” them—so we designed a burger that went above and beyond.
When executing my vision for the CurderBurger, I created a list of must-haves, including:
- Functionality of design that reflected what we deliver with our current Cheese Curds, so both the yellow and white curds were evident.
- Optimizing the eating experience of the burger so the cheese crown not only is visually appealing, but also holds together. after taking a bite
- Perfecting the size and weight of the crown so it can be consistently prepared to the highest quality in-restaurant.
All of these factors combined to make a burger that not only catches the eye, but also delivers the high quality and delicious taste guests love at Culver’s.
Could you see the item returning to menus?
We’ll never say never ... but for now, the CurderBurger will only be available while supplies last on October 15.
How is the brand approaching menu innovation at this stage in the pandemic recovery? Are there trends you’re seeing emerge? And how is off-premises growth playing into all of this?
Since the pandemic began, our focus has always been on supporting our operators, restaurant teams and procurement team in managing the ever-shifting needs we’re seeing. From an off-premises standpoint, our restaurants have seen a noteworthy shift toward online ordering and pickup via drive-thru.
What are some consumer behaviors you see sticking after COVID, from more snacking to larger orders to later dayparts, etc.?
We saw our snacking daypart increase in the early stages of COVID; guests turned out in increased numbers between the lunch and dinner hours. So far, we’ve seen that trend continue throughout the pandemic. We’re also seeing that families are increasingly having the time to eat their meals together and choosing Culver’s for that experience. We’re happy to see that trend and are honored to continue serving our guests delicious food with a hospitable experience when they need it most.