116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — As an American, it’s safe to say I’ve eaten a lot of burgers. As a Midwesterner, it’s safe to say I’ve eaten at least a few of them topped with cheese curds.
I’m also no stranger to a Culver’s ButterBurger. My last name is two letters away from being part of their “Welcome to Delicious” slogan — go ahead, glance back at my byline. But I entered the Cedar Rapids location Friday with a healthy skepticism of their new CurderBurger, leaving with a satisfaction I haven’t felt with a fast-food burger in a long time.
If you missed the one-day-only debut of Culver’s CurderBurger, live vicariously through this review in hopes the burger will grace us again one day.
The lead up
On April Fools’ Day, Culver’s teased cheese-obsessed guests with its first rendering of the CurderBurger.
Then, after months of guest pleas and petitions, they decided to make it a reality, but only for one day — National Cheese Curd Day on Friday, Oct. 15.
As the burger arrived to my table, my eyes were graced with a golden aura atop the signature greasy goodness of the burger’s beef, peeking out from under the bun.
Having eaten hundreds of the regular-sized cheese curds at Culver’s, I assumed this cheese curd crown, as Culver’s calls it, would be like a bunch of regular ones smooshed together. If you’ve ever had a burger topped with cheese curds at another restaurant, like I have, this is probably what you would have expected, too.
Though the cheese curd crown is made of the same ingredients, a Culver’s representative told me — white and yellow cheddar curds with seasoned breadcrumbs — the texture, density and mouthfeel is dramatically different. This crown proved to be greater than the sum of its parts.
As I picked up the crown to examine it for a few quick tweets, I inadvertently broke it. The thin, crisp shell was easily broken, and out of it oozed a stream of stretchy cheese. You know how in cartoons, when a character takes a piece of pizza out of the box, the cheese stretches about 10 feet? That’s basically what happened as I pulled a piece of the crown off to see the cheese’s consistency.
With regular Culver’s cheese curds, the cheese has a tendency to be a bit more cooked and dry inside, making ranch dipping sauce necessary for me. But the crown’s density — not too thick, not too thin — and its lower breading to cheese ratio made it so that the cheese inside wasn’t dried out from the fryer.
After a few bites, the crown started to fall apart. But I powered through the culinary pleasure.
All the regular fixings of a Culver’s burger are something I typically welcome as complements to the beef — tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, onions, even the nutritionally worthless shredded iceberg lettuce. In this case, they were almost distracting.
The cheese curd crown was able to stand on its own in terms of taste without the need for props. It made the standard slice of cheese on burgers irrelevant.
I’m here to say this big, fried cheese was everything I could have dreamed of in a cheese curd crown. If it ever makes a return, I’d recommend you try it.
A spokesperson for Culver’s said there was no defined future for the special burger beyond Oct. 15, but noted that the chain will “never say never” to the possibility of bringing it back again.
One day only
This burger received a lot of pre-debut press and hype on social media. Everyone was urged to get to their local restaurant as quickly as possible, due to limited supplies. I was surprised to find no long lines when I arrived.
If you did not go to Culver’s on Friday, Oct. 15, planning to get this burger, which is made unique only by its patty-like cheese curd crown, you probably wouldn’t have known it was being sold that day. From my vantage in the dining room, there were no signs advertising it around the doors or at the counter.
But it was interesting to note that on this day, National Cheese Curd Day, the Wisconsin-based chain seemed to be cashing in on its goodwill with dairy lovers who already knew the chain for its reliable custard and cheese curds. I haven’t paid any particular attention to the restaurant’s past Cheese Curd Day celebrations, but this seemed to be a concerted effort to reinforce branding on an iconic regional treat.
Employees were all wearing cheese curd themed t-shirts, and the friendly crew member who took my order asked if I wanted to buy Curdis, the stuffed plush cheese curd, for $5.
Since I had spent the night before playing a game on their website featuring their cheese curd mascot, I was primed to say yes — “You betcha,” as they say up north.
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