After successful market testing, Sonic Drive-In’s blended mushroom burger, dubbed the Signature Slinger, will be available at the company’s 3,500 U.S. locations for seven weeks.
From March 5 to April 22, two versions of the Slinger, one with bacon, will be on Sonic menus, following a pilot program last summer. The burgers are 25%-30% chopped mushrooms, and a sign of the popularity of the Mushroom Council’s promotion of replacing some of the meat in dishes with chopped mushrooms, a practice known as The Blend.
The council has been instrumental in helping foodservice perfect recipes that use the meat-mushroom mix, and council President Bart Minor said Sonic’s Slingers is a big step for the program.
“This (Sonic Slingers) is simply furthering the awareness and interest in mushrooms in general, and fresh mushrooms in particular,” Minor said.
Mushroom sales hit a record $1.22 billion in 2016-17, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report in August, and a usage study commissioned by the council last year showed a “surprisingly significant” consumer awareness of mushrooms generated by the mushroom-meat trend.
He called Sonic’s use of the mushroom blend — the first by a major quick-service restaurant — a “watershed moment” for the industry.
The burger also has seasonings to “create a juicy, flavorful patty,” and calorie counts for the Slingers start at 350, according to a Sonic news release.
“Adding mushrooms right into the burger patty amps up the incredible flavors of the 100% pure beef and seasonings you get in each bite,” Scott Euhlein, vice president of product innovation and development for Sonic, said in the release.
Mike O'Brien, vice president of sales and marketing at Watsonville, Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc., said his company is not supplying Sonic, but the Slingers are a “great thing” for all in the industry.
“But this is a great thing for the mushroom industry,” O’Brien said in an e-mail. “People want to eat better without giving up flavor and texture.”
Monterey Mushrooms recently introduced Let’s Blend, a line of finely diced mushrooms and spices that are ready to be mixed with ground meat.