Crinkle-Cut Fries (and a ButterBurger, duh)
Yes, we’re going through sides, but if you’re getting the fries, it’s because you’ve already ordered a ButterBurger. It has remained largely unchanged since Craig Culver co-founded the chain in 1984, with fresh ingredients, loads of texture, and that delicious, lightly buttered and grilled bun.
“When Craig was looking for those points of differentiation [to start Culver’s], he remembered something that his mom, Ruth Culver, would always do was to use real butter on the buns,” said Adkins. “She would toast the buns. That was the hook, the point of differentiation, that we were going to serve the best the dairy state has to offer.”
The story feels like the kind of thing marketing people and political candidates would have memorized to churn out word-for-word anytime someone asks. Saying something tastes homemade is usually ignored as promotional speak, but the phrase isn’t without substance at Culver’s.
The ButterBurger is second to none because it tastes fresh. It’s worth loading up on toppings, because the vegetables are crisp, the burger doesn’t taste like a frozen patty warmed in a microwave, and the cheese, especially the cheddar, is rich and what you’d expect to get in Wisconsin. You aren’t going to be served flaccid, wet lettuce or translucent, sickly tomatoes.
“It’s… it’s just good food,” Zimmern told me, while also offering praise for NYC-based fast casual burger chain Shake Shack. “They endeavor to use quality ingredients, and you can taste the difference.”
The flavors aren’t buried under sauce and oil. They want you to taste what you’re eating, as Adkins elucidates with the fries. “There’s a very specific reason that we serve crinkle-cut,” he says. “We believe it offers the best balance between a crispy fry and that deep potato flavor, that crisp and fluffy potato textural contrast.” If you’re only looking for crunch, you might be better off with curly fries at Arby’s, but at Culver’s you can actually taste the potato without sacrificing the salty, crunchy texture you want from a fast food fry.