What's Wrong With Texas' Buns?
Two Lone Star State chains have put a halt on serving burgers with buns this week.
Though integral to a hamburger, the bun often finds itself overlooked. Talk about meat and toppings all you want, but a bun doesn't just make a major contribution to taste; a bad bun can also making holding your burger a nightmare. This hamburger truism hit the state of Texas especially hard this week as three major fast food chains temporarily had to either close or revamp their menu after bun issues.
Kicking things off, on Monday, cult-favorite Southern California-based burger chain In-N-Out – which landed in Texas after opening a distribution center in Dallas in 2011 – chose to close all 36 of its locations in the state after the brand decided its buns weren't up to snuff. "At In-N-Out Burgers, we have always served the highest quality food with no compromise. We recently discovered that our buns in Texas do not meet the quality standards that we demand," In-N-Out said in a statement, declining to specify what the issue was. "There was and are no food safety concerns." CBS Austin reported that after being closed all day on Tuesday, the chain had reopened all of its Texas locations yesterday.
According to Nation's Restaurant News, In-N-Out's buns are a proprietary recipe created by the Los Angeles-based Puritan Bakery, a company that also works with a number of other well-known California chains including Fatburger, Johnny Rockets, Islands Restaurants, and Original Tommy's Hamburgers. Though In-N-Out didn't disclose who supplies their buns in the Texas regions, you may find yourself with a sneaking suspicion that the Cali-based burger joint shares a supplier with Texas's own Whataburger and the chicken chain Raising Cane's after this news.
On Wednesday, the San Antonio-headquartered Whataburger pulled white buns and Texas toast from the menu in many Texas locations citing quality issues. The burger chain's statement was suspiciously similar to In-N-Out's, though Whataburger did say what the problem was. "There's no health risk at all," the statement said, "rather an impact on our bun's flavor caused by an unbalance in the yeast, and we want to make sure our customers get the best product." Instead of closing, Whataburger – which unlike In-N-Out, offers more than one bun option – told customers that they could choose a wheat bun, a flour tortilla, or a bun-less burger at no additional charge. The chain also extended its breakfast hours to 1 p.m. As of this writing, the issue appears to be resolved at least at some locations.
Then, last night, more news from the Austin Statesman: Apparently the Louisiana-based Raising Cane's was also facing a bread quality issue at some locations in North Texas, posting signs that toast had been taken off the menu due to a bread delivery that "didn't meet our high quality standards."
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Needless to say, after three incidents in one area, it appears that some sort of major fast food baked goods supplier ran into an issue, though the exact source still isn't entirely clear. However, for the sake of Texas fast food lovers, let's hope the state can get its yeast under control quickly.