It has been one year since the infamous blended burger arrived at the University of Connecticut and students are still having mixed reactions to it.
“I’ve just heard terrible things,” Harrison Dent, a fourth-semester physiology and neurobiology major said, “(that) they taste awful.”
Dent said the negative reviews of the burger have led him to steer clear of the item.
Director of Dining Services Dennis Pierce told the Daily Campus last year that the change was made for both environmental and health reasons.
“We want to change to a more plant-based diet. That doesn’t mean everyone is going to eat vegetarian, it just means that meat itself is going to be a lesser item,” Pierce said. “(We’re) looking at our menus and tweaking them and changing them so they have more healthy options.”
Shane Elliot, a fourth-semester digital media design major, said while the burgers are not as good as the traditional beef burgers, he understands Dining Services’ goals.
“I think the old ones are better. But I guess I would understand the reason for using (the blended burgers),” Elliot said. “There’s no comparison to real meat. It’s half mushroom, so it’s a different flavor.”
Other students haven taken more kindly to the burgers.
“I like them. I think they’re good.” Parker Shpak a senior English and philosophy double major said. “Honestly, if there wasn’t a sign, I don’t think I would notice (the difference).”
Shpak said he thinks many students are merely reacting to knowing there has been a change rather than the actual change itself.
“I know a lot of people complain (about the burgers), but I think it’s because of the sign, not because of the taste,” Shpak said. “People don’t like change and they want something to bitch about.”
In response to student criticism last year, the sentiments of which generated a still-active change.org petition to “Bring Back the Original Beef Burger to UConn,” Dining Services changed its recipe for the blended burger. Rather than being half mushroom and half beef, the burger is now 60 percent beef, 30 percent mushroom and 10 percent spice blend.
Last year, some students stated a desire to have the option of regular burgers as well as blended burgers. Pierce said allowing this choice would not be an effective way to ensure Dining Services’ goal was accomplished.
“As a school, if you truly believe that food service should go towards more plant-based menus, then you must provide burgers that are healthier and more sustainable across the board—it doesn’t work philosophically to just give students the choice,” Pierce said in a foodmanangement.com article.
Dining services has served approximately 95,100 blended burgers since introducing them last year, Pierce said. There are 28 other schools around the country participating in the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project including Yale University and UMass Amherst.
Pierce told foodmanagement.com that Dining Services has stop receiving negative feedback on the burger.
“We haven’t heard any bad feedback since last August,” Pierce said “We’re over the hurdle. We’ve made the change and are now moving (in) other directions.”