The Rise of the Gourmet Burger

Posted on September 23, 2013

Because I am essentially a salesman, I am always on the periphery of the marketing profession and those within it. Marketing people are generally held in higher regard than sales people but just like any other business or trade some of them are useless whilst others are remarkably creative with utilising words to make an otherwise bland product seem incredibly exciting.

One of my favourite examples of marketing creativity was an advert for a probiotic yogurt that had a key selling feature of helping an individual have a hearty poo in the morning. I can just imagine half a dozen marketing execs sat around a yogurt placed in the middle of table as they brain stormed their way to promoting a healthy morning dump to the masses before the 9.00pm watershed.

“Todd, Todd, I think I’ve got the strap line we are looking for…”

Well go on then Dickie… what is it?”

“How aboutA probiotic yogurt that assists you with your daily digestive transits?”

Never will hear a better term for a number two than a daily digestive transit…Marketing at its finest.

Another case of clever marketing came to my attention the other morning. When I was driving up the A34 I noticed a van in front me that was towing something that was not an ordinary burger van, but a GOURMET burger van. The word gourmet somehow making this culinary heart attack seem more appealing, deluding the middle classes in to thinking that a burger is acceptable, just as long as it is a Gourmet Burger.


Essentially, as far as I can tell, a Gourmet Burger is still a burger, but it comes in a seeded bun with a slice of bacon welded on by cheddar cheese, a couple of pieces of lettuce and tomato with a cocktail stick pierced through the middle of it. One presumes this is to hold it all together, the least you would expect for a thumping £9.95 price tag.

I don’t know who first introduced the word gourmet to a burger but its popularity has increased to such an extent that if you go into a pub and see on the menu “Burger and Chips” you are instantly of the opinion that no matter how good the Chef is, you will not be ordering a burger if it is not gourmet burger. It’s all or nothing.

However, like all trends, the word gourmet has gone viral and is no longer unique, so pub and restaurant managers have had to up their game, often with outrageously grandiose descriptions of their mediocre food. I went to a pub recently in the New Forest somewhere that was advertising a humble burger with the words “Try our Famous Gourmet Burger”

Wow that’s some statement, though I’m sure if I had the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister or the Queen if they had heard of it, I would be greeted with a puzzled expression before being escorted from the premises and sectioned under the mental health act. I remain convinced that a pub burger cannot be famous. Gourmet or not, you are unlikely to see them at a film premiere.

Whether the Gourmet burger will stand the test of time is anyone’s guess. It may just be a passing fashion or it may be ingrained in our heads forever, just like the ‘Traditional’ Sunday Roast, another permanent item on the pub menu that is preposterously promoted. 

“Butchers ham” and “Catch of the Day” are other up selling techniques that pubs often use but nothing has risen from the lower echelons of the Kids Menu to being a major player on the main menu like the Gourmet Burger has.

Perhaps there is a trend taking place where unhealthy kid’s food is upgraded for the adult market? Maybe in the coming years we will see the introduction of ‘Gourmet Nuggets’, ‘Fish fingers of the Day’ and ‘Locally sourced Alphabet Spaghetti’?

When all is said and done, with the addition of mayonnaise, a slice of bacon and melted cheese, the one thing that is most enhanced by consuming a Gourmet Burger are your chances of a stent being fitted to open up your blocked arteries?


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