The Burger Race

hamburger-and-french-friesAs a sequel to my post “Ten Years Gluten Free“, as much as it took solid organization skills and a spirit of adventure to continuously try new recipes, I think I adapted pretty well with my gluten intolerance. Through batch cooking and chasing after sales on roast chickens, I have been able to keep my freezer well-stocked with home-made meals that I can enjoy at home and at the office.

Also, over that decade, restaurants have come a long way too, several of which are getting better and better at tasty gluten-free offerings and in ensuring safety in the careful preparation of meals.

I am surprised that with the prevalence of the gluten-free diet, even among people who are not intolerant, fast food outlets have not been in a race to see who can offer gluten-free bread or buns to welcome a new segment of the audience.

For me, fast food restaurants have been regarded as an occasional treat for a fast meal on the run. In the cases where I had an insatiable burger fix but was short on time, I have been known to buy burger and fries at a fast food outlet, come home, throw out the bun, toast a couple of slices of gluten free bread, and meticulously reassemble the ingredients with the same attention to detail as an IKEA furniture assembly project.

However, when I am not at home, walking around with a pocket full of gluten-free bread is not the most convenient of prospects for improving meal options on the run.

I get hunger pains at the thought of pulling into an airport, getting off a flight that is running late, leaving me barely enough time to go to the restroom, grab some food to go and clear the next security gate. This Amazing Race-style challenge is most discouraging when my only gluten-free airport food options are a bag of nuts, a piece of fruit, some yogurt or a tough protein bar that holds the same appeal as chewing on a tire. I can just imagine how a parent travelling with kids with allergies must feel.

To be able to grab a gluten-free burger on the run in a situation like that would be a huge pleasure and convenience, especially when one is pressed for time.

However, on the other hand, I completely understand that from the company’s perspective, it can be a huge challenge in itself, trying to offer gluten-free products in a fast-food environment where there are so many factors that could potentially compromise the safety and integrity of gluten-free foods.

Not only would it require the acquisition of gluten-free buns or bread, but it also becomes essential to dedicate gluten-free areas where no amount of cross-contamination will occur. That takes dedicated space, extensive staff training, time and… money.

I am just speculating, but perhaps providing certified gluten-free burgers and sandwiches through all of its outlets and franchisees is cost-prohibitive in itself, while trying to keep the overall cost of its food to consumers affordable.

I would assume that the burger and sandwich chains must have thought about it by now. In all fairness, I imagine there must be a pretty good reason if no one has jumped on the bandwagon yet. But given the fierce competition for our burger dollars, I am surprised that none of the big players have taken the plunge yet.

I hope it is just a question of time before gluten-free isn’t perceived as an exception anymore. Given the great advances in the last ten years, I hope next ten will bring further inspiration to the companies who are chomping at the bit to increase their market share, and offer products that are safe not just for people with gluten sensitivities, but safe options for everyone.

In the meantime, I would like to take a moment to thank The Works and Milestones, two casual dining restaurant chains that offer gluten-free burgers (with buns!) that succeed in feeding my burger cravings with brilliant masterpieces that hit the mark every time. Great job!


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Filed under Misc blogs, Travel

3 responses to “The Burger Race

  1. I hope this happens for you soon. Celiac disease is so common that it sure seems like restaurants would start offering something like this.

    I’m allergic to milk, so I know how frustrating it is to go to a restaurant and only have a limited number of things you can order. Sometimes your cravings don’t fit what you’re allowed to eat at all!

    It’s also almost impossible for me to find a dessert I can have when eating out, so it sucks when everyone else at the table gets to order one and I get nothing every single time I go out for a meal.

    But you are not alone. There are a lot of people out there like us. 🙂

    • Hi Lydia, thanks so much for the comment and the kind wishes. I feel your pain, as I went dairy free for 6 years in the 90s. Like you suggested, navigating around dairy is challenging because it, and its derivatives, are in so much of what we eat.
      If there is a bright side, it is that the intolerances forced me to spend more time in the kitchen, trying new things, and probably became a better cook as a result.
      Best of luck and good health!

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