Fatburger is a fast casual hamburger chain, which was launched and is headquartered in Southern California. The original restaurant was opened by Lovie Yancey in 1948, and was called “Mr. Fatburger” for the first several years.
Until recently, the chain has been mostly California-centric, but a limited amount of growth has come from international franchises. There have been a number of celebrity investors who at one time or another opened franchised outlets, most of which did not survive.
I’ve never understood why this chain didn’t explode with growth. It’s a good product, limited menu. Burgers, fries, rings, shakes. The burgers can be customized by adding additional patties and toppings like chili, cheese, guac, peppers. The fresh, not frozen, burger patties are cooked on a flat top until a crusty surface occurs, which is very appealing to me personally. The shakes are hand-scooped real ice cream. What’s not to like?
Like most franchise operations, the company is not so much in the business of operating actual restaurants, but rather, selling franchises, supplying them, and making sure they comply with corporate mandates. As such, a company like that has a single asset, the proprietary value of its name and image, and tries to find different ways to exploit that property to create additional revenue.
I can’t say for sure which restaurant chain was the first one to place product in grocery stores, bearing their name, but it’s hard not to bump into that kind of thing today. Off the top of my head, I’ve seen Marie Callenders, TGI Fridays, Burger King, Taco Bell, Chili’s Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and at one time, Stouffer’s was a restaurant. There are many more.
Lo and behold, Fatburger licenses its name, image for frozen burger patties. This kind of surprised me, because the product is a six pack of 1/3 pound patties, and ‘thick’ burgers are really not a Fatburger thing. The deal seems exclusive to Wal Mart, and at $7.99, comes out to four bucks a pound, steep for ground beef. (I have previously reviewed a number of different brands of frozen burgers). The product is apparently distributed (manufactured?) by a separate Los Angeles company and I wasn’t able to find very much info on that concern. The USDA ‘sticker’ did not have an establishment number on it; that number identifies the plant where the product was made.
The stove top grilling instructions call for 14 minutes at medium heat, turning frequently. That’s distinctively different than most frozen patties that I have tested. The most common set of instructions call for throwing the frozen patty in a pan, cooking on one side til ‘blood runs through’, and flipping it for another short period. The exception of course would be pre-cooked patties, like Ball Park.
The packaging inside the box is a single cello pack, non-resealable; I would prefer patties are individually wrapped if the package isn’t resealable. The burgers are separated by “patty paper” but the flash-freeze process can still make the patties stick together.
The raw patty in the pan is pictured at left. It is manufactured to look like it is hand-formed, but there have been patty making machines in plants that have accomplished that for quite some time. I’ve never seen a frozen patty that wasn’t ‘dimpled’, and this one is no exception.
The ingredients listed on the box are: beef, and seasoning salt. It seems from the way the ingredients are printed, that the seasoning salt is made up of salt, spices, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, onion, and canola oil. So they are saying what’s in your patty is beef and salt. Wow. That’s a departure from most similar products. Which is a good thing.
I went with the entire suggested 14 minutes, to witness the outcome as directed on the packaging. It has an pleasant enough look, and the flavor is good, there’s no hint of artificial smoke here, some companies use that to emulate grill flavor. The grind is of average size, and is appealing. I’d say the Fat frozen is in the top three of all the ones I’ve tested. Of course, it’s no substitute for hitting my favorite locations when I am in L.A. I like the Venice and Van Nuys locations, personally.
The only time I purchase frozen burgers is to test them out, but I’d be ok with having these in my freezer regularly.