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Chicken McNuggets, move over!
Cheeseburgers marry french fries in what the beef industry hopes will be the next snack sensation.
September 23, 2003: 4:43 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Cheeseburgers and french fries have joined forces in what the beef industry hopes will become America's newest snack food sensation.

Breaded, then deep-fried and served with ketchup or barbecue sauce, cheeseburger fries, as they're called, have found their way onto menus in Nebraska, Minnesota and Texas, according to the New York Times.

Looking to follow the success of Chicken McNuggets and fried mozzarella sticks at fast food chains, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association hopes the new snacks can revive the sagging popularity of beef in the American diet.

"The challenge is getting people to think of other ways to eat beef," Betty Hogan, director of new product development for the association, told the Times.

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Demand for red meat is at a record at a time when supply is at the lowest levels in three decades, and that's pushing beef prices to historic highs. CNNfn's Lisa Leiter reports.

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Beef, mostly in the form of hamburger and steak, continues to dominate the menus of restaurants across the U.S., but the popularity of the red meat has been on a long-term decline since the early 1980s.

Twenty years ago, Americans ate about 77 pounds of beef per capita and 51 pounds of chicken.

But beef consumption fell to 66.2 pounds in 2001 while chicken consumption jumped to 75.6 pounds, the paper said.

That reversal took place in part because of the popularity of McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, which were introduced in 1983, altering the public's perception of chicken by turning it into a quick and convenient food.

The fries so far have been popular and profitable for restaurants, Steve Mason, owner of the Brass Rail restaurant in Beatrice, Neb., told the Times.

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But cheeseburger fries, like many other finger-food snacks, are high in fat and calories. Each individual fry contains about 75 calories and 4 grams of fat, the paper added.

Some schools also have unveiled their own version of cheeseburger fries, and although the calories have been reduced the fat content has been increased to a total of 6 grams per fry.

"We think that we will sell about a $1 million worth [of cheeseburger fries] this year," Rob McLaughlin, vice president of Advance Food Co., which produces cheeseburger fries, told the Times.

And that should please the cattlemen's association.

"We want beef in dessert if we can get it there," Hogan said.  Top of page

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