Something very, very bad seems to have occurred at a wholesale bakery in Texas this week. Details are skimpy, but they seem to revolve around an "unbalance in the yeast." Whatever it is, it's not a health and safety issue, it seems to be a very-bad-tasting-bread issue. And it's affected three beloved fast food chains in Texas, and in at least one case, Arkansas and Oklahoma as well.
First Bad Bungate hit In-N-Out Burger, a California-based chain that promptly responded by closing all 37 In-N-Out Burger locations throughout Texas. It won praise for the move, not least from my Inc.com colleague Chris Matyszczyk who called In-N-Out's decision "brilliant." I don't often disagree with my favorite Inc.com columnists, but this time around--sorry, Chris, you're wrong.
That became evident earlier today when the same unbalanced yeast disease hit two more chains in the region, Whataburger and Raising Cane's. Perhaps because, unlike In-N-Out, they're not from California, they had a less dramatic and more pragmatic response: They simply stopped serving white bread in the affected stores. Whataburger released a statement explaining that it had voluntarily stopped serving buns and Texas Toast in some of its stores due to the quality issue.
Then they did their best to make good:
We understand this is frustrating to our loyal customers and apologize to those impacted by the shortage. We're happy to make any burger or sandwich using a wheat bun, flour tortilla or bun-less on a platter at no extra charge. Customers visiting a restaurant experiencing a shortage of buns can enjoy extended breakfast hours until 1pm today.
Raising Cane's had a similar response, removing toast from its menu and inviting diners to choose a different side dish in its place.
I get In-N-Out's commitment to quality and concern for its brand and all, but really--what would you prefer, especially if you have a limited lunch hour, and you run out to your favorite fast food place to grab a burger--the choice to put up with a whole wheat bun? Or a closed sign and no choice at all?
One reporter from a local NBC affiliate made his preference clear.
The bun "catastrophe" has moved beyond In-N-Out. It has now struck closer to home, at Whataburger. I just happened to stop there for lunch today. And I can tell you that the wheat buns are just fine. So go ahead and exhale. https://t.co/Bji5LDm4Sl-- David Finfrock (@DavidFinfrock) June 13, 2018
Besides, just as Whataburger promised, Bad Bungate was short-lived. By evening, a reporter at a Dallas-Fort Worth Fox affiliate reported that the crisis was over.
They're back! Just ordered this Whataburger in FW and the bun..is white bread. Employee confirmed they're finally serving white buns again. Not sure if it's same for other stores. @FOX4 pic.twitter.com/MnCG6sQ7Ha-- Brandon Todd (@BrandonToddFOX4) June 14, 2018
Meantime, In-N-Out Burger stores in Texas are now reopened, after being closed for two days.
When the news of the In-N-Out closures first came out, one Whataburger fan tweeted this:
Apparently, he was right.