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When it comes to savory backyard burgers, local grillmeisters will tell you few premade patties compare to Schnucks' "Chef's Mignon." Introduced in 2000 as part of the supermarket's "Loaded Burger" series, the Chef's Mignon combines high-quality beef, cheddar cheese, onions and special spices that — as the name suggests — transform the pedestrian burger into something akin to fine steak.
But could it be that Schnucks has changed the ingredients of its coveted Chef's Mignon? That's the question a reader posed last week when he called Unreal to tell us that the grocery chain was now using ground chuck instead of sirloin to make its patties. The informant further revealed that the acclaimed burger no longer contains the Worcestershire sauce and Lawry's seasoning that once made it so tasty. "It's fraudulent!" our source cried. "They continue to call it the Chef's Mignon, but it's not. It's a poor imitation. Someone needs to call them out!"
Well, Unreal knows a meaty story when we hear it. We quickly called Schnucks' director of communications, Lori Willis. If the supermarket is indeed passing off an inferior patty as the Chef Mignon, the public must be warned.
In an RFT exclusive, Willis tells Unreal that Schnucks has changed the Chef Mignon from sirloin to certified "Angus" ground chuck. Aha! But, she adds, the change came four years ago and was designed to improve the flavor of the burger. "Our premium burger program has constantly evolved, mostly due to customer feedback," Willis adds. "The Angus chuck makes for a distinctively juicier taste. We also now use natural cheddar and Gorgonzola cheeses and fresh red onion as opposed to frozen onion in the burgers."
Mmmkay, but what about the Worcestershire sauce? Willis admits that the Chef Mignon no longer contains the ingredient. Gotcha again! "The feeling was that it didn't add much flavor and the brown color of the sauce made the meat look old," Willis explains. "The customer can still put it on their hamburger at home. I know I like it on my burgers."
As for the Lawry's, Willis will only reveal that the burger contains premium spices. "The chefs want to keep some things a secret," she notes. "At the same time, we're open to suggestions. I encourage your source to give me a call. I'd love to hear his thoughts."
Everybody Must Get drank
Taste-testing is by far one of Unreal's favorite office pastimes, and we always have good sippin' in the form of, say, vodka, within arm's reach. You can bet that when we got wind recently of drank, a new drink, we were all over the editorial-team taste-test.
The drink, which comes in a sixteen-ounce purple tallboy, is described in press materials as an "anti energy" drink and an "extreme relaxation beverage." The magic ingredients come in the form of melatonin, rose hips and valerian root. And the catchy slogan, appearing on the front of the can?
"Slow your roll."
Sitting around drinking coffee one morning, Unreal and company wondered what it might be like to consume an anti-energy drink and an energy drink at the same time. Our minds wandered to drinking drank with alcohol. Naturally, next came the taste test.
"Smells like a Rockstar!" yelled a staffer upon saddling up. "No, purple Kool-Aid!" offered another thirsty writer.
Drank is an iridescent purple — in the lilac family, you might say. We decided that drunk alone, drank tastes exactly like "that baby-aspirin Motrin stuff." Drunk with Red Bull or vodka, drank tastes like drinking nothing. One staffer suggested that drinking drank during a smooth-jazz listening session might be nice.
"WARNING: This product may cause drowsiness," the can advises. "Not recommended more than 2 servings within a 24-hour period."
That is where things get interesting. After only a coupla sips of drank, several of us were feeling bleary-eyed, unfocused, cockeyed. The letters on our computer screens seemed to squiggle and squirm like amorphous little amoebas.
Memphian Terry Harris, CEO of drank's distributor, HBB of Missouri LLC, has already placed drank in more than 100 St. Louis stores, including Beverly Hills Grocery & Liquor and Cool Smoke. We chatted with him the day after the taste test to see if he'd heard about this reaction.
Unreal: So what provided the inspiration for this drink, drank?
Terry Harris: Well, a lot of it was through CEO Peter Bianchi and his background in the music business, being around people who wanted to relax and slow down a little bit.
So like T-Pain and other rappers who wax on about purple stuff?
I guess to some degree, but it's more of a slow-your-roll deal.
And how'd you come up with the name?
Christina Brozek, drank flack: "Drank" is slang for a prescription-grade cough syrup that's abused by some people. As a musician, Peter has seen its detrimental effects and wanted to create something that could let you slow down but wouldn't be harmful.
Why so tall?
It's two servings per can. We do have another product out called drank deuce, which is a two-ounce shot.
Is drank more of a late-night elixir?
Harris: I don't know if "elixir" would be the proper term, but it's got a wide audience, no doubt. We're finding out that drank is replacing wine, beer, Ambien, Xanax — whatever people are taking after work.