February 19, 2010

Bruegger's Maple & Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

Who's up for a little Friday brunch?

If I'm right, some eggs, sausage and a bagel sound like the perfect way to tie you over for a few hours until the weekend starts. Fortunately your intrepid food critique recently stumbled upon a better way to eat them.

I speak of Bruegger's new Maple & Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. Curiously dubbed with an ampersand, this concoction is essentially a better take on McDonald's McGriddle. It has an egg patty, a sausage patty, a "French Toast Bagel," and "Vermont Maple Cream Cheese" -- deemed proper nouns by Bruegger's nose-in-the-air promotional materials.

Set aside the curious naming conventions for a moment -- we'll get back to them. Let's tear into the meat of this meal.

First, the negatives: The sandwich has a very utilitarian egg patty. While I can't say for sure, I suspect it was freeze dried or dehydrated before being reincarnated in Bruegger's "bakery." The same can be said of the sausage patty.

These aren't necessarily deal-breakers, though. Lower-crust egg and sausage patties have their own charm, like pulling on your favorite shirt purchased from the $1 sale rack at Old Navy. They get the job done, they're satisfying and they're comfortable.

They're also bookended by two fast food studs: the "French Toast Bagel" and "Vermont Maple Cream Cheese." French toast bagels are proof that duality can be successful in foods. Bagels that taste like French toast are simply delicious. Throw in the maple cream cheese and its syrupy flavor, and you're wrapping your sandwich with a plate straight from your grandma's kitchen.

Let's be clear that the cream cheese is "syrupy" in flavor only. It's not gooey or disgusting. In fact it's creamily delicious, improving on the consistency of maple syrup by, well, replacing it with the consistency of cream cheese.

The flavors all work together in a harmonious breakfast sandwich far outshining McDonald's similar offering. Where McGriddles are a rush of supersweetstaggeringlysalty, Bruegger's offering is a more subtle blending of flavors producing a rich eating experience. Bruegger's is even thoughtful enough to slice the sandwich in half, a nod to the difficulty of eating bagel sandwiches.

The only place Bruegger's seems to have overthought the sandwich is in naming and advertising. Ampersands abound, from the name of "Maple & Sausage Breakfast Sandwich" to the product description posted in stores' windows, which say the meal is comprised of "Vermont Maple Cream Cheese, Egg & Sausage on a French Toast Bagel."

Ampersands aren't confined to this meal, they're everywhere in Bruegger's stores. Would it kill the place to spell out a-n-d? The symbols only serve to make things confusing.

& what's with the decision to make everything related to the ampersandwich a proper noun? My guess is the ampersands are used in order to try to dress up Bruegger's, making it look classy. The place should let its food speak for itself.

The Maple & Sausage Breakfast Sandwich speaks pretty well, bringing home four sporks out of five. Add a higher quality egg & Sausage & we'd be looking at a mouthful of perfect.


  1. Anonymous8:59 AM

    Hi Rick,

    My name is Holly Ryan and I work at Bruegger's headquarters in Burlington, VT. I love your candid review of our seasonal breakfast sandwich as well as your thoughts on our quirky labels that we give to our menu items. Have you given any thought to what you would rename the menu items containing the Ampersands? It would be interesting to get a new perspective. I look forward to continuing to read your blog. Keep it up!

    -Holly Ryan
    Franchise Manager
    Bruegger’s Enterprises, Inc
    159 Bank Street
    Burlington, VT 05401

  2. Christ, man, times are tough. Gotta stay lean and mean. So why do with three characters what you can do with one?


  3. Adam, you have a good point on the #twitterficationofamerica. Short and sweet is in these days.

    But I still maintain short isn't sweet if it's confusing. And a ton of ampersands in product descriptions can lead to spinning heads.

    Holly, I actually think an ampersand in a product name can be a nice wordmark to distinguish it -- "Maple & Sausage Breakfast Sandwich" looks pretty good as an artistic logo. It's when you start inserting the special characters into longer sentences that it becomes confusing.

  4. Anonymous1:12 PM

    Here's a little tip for you: IT"S CALLED MARKETING! Do you have to much free time that you need to whine about something so stupid??
    Why worry about more important issues the world is facing like hunger. Do know how hard is it is to put food on the table for millions of families? I'm sure there are plenty of people who would love to have your bagel sandwich and not care about how it's marketed.

  5. Anonymous11:22 PM


    Are you a food critic or a english teacher? Advise- I would give up both.

  6. Wow, I'm not sure what deserved such wrath from the misuse-of-the-shift-key crew. I will use the opportunity to remind everyone that yes, world hunger is a problem. It's one you can help fix. I encourage everyone to step away from their computer screens regularly to help out at a local food bank.

    But let me point out that this blog is here so we can have a little fun no matter what's going on in the world. I've been through my own share of furloughs and layoffs in the last year, and I still think it would be a terrible life if we couldn't take a step back and laugh about minutiae every once in a while.

  7. Gotta admit that I'm not big on the eggs either. I do like the Sausage though and switch between that and the Bacon when I have my breakfast sandwiches.

    I think the capitalization is more of an issue with bringing out what's important. I can see it being a concern if every first letter was capitalized within the description like the "on a" bit. Gotta admit that I don't see it as an issue. Most advertising signs in supermarkets and other stores follow the same pattern. I can see the local Harris Tetter Supermarket from where I see and they have Paper Towels capitalized in their signs.