There’s a reason why beef burgers are so popular, says Cluck ‘n Moo founder Steve Gold. They taste great and they are really succulent. But what if you could have the same great taste with less than half the saturated fat and 32% fewer calories?
The idea for Cluck ‘n Moo first came to Gold (formerly VP of sales & marketing at Murray’s Chickens in New York) just over a year ago when his wife was yearning for a burger without the guilt-factor, he says. “She’d always feel guilty afterwards, but burgers with less fat or other meats are often a bit dry, so I wanted to create something that was just as juicy, without so much fat.”
So he worked up some gluten-free prototype burgers with 50% chicken (raised without antibiotics), 50% beef (grass fed), and no preservatives or artificial ingredients and used his friends and their kids as guinea pigs, bringing his burgers around for parties during football season without telling them that they came with a twist.
The response was so encouraging that Gold left Murray’s in February to run Cluck Inc (which owns the Cluck 'n Moo trademark) full time, and is already working on new products Oink ‘n Moo (pork + beef), and Gobble ‘n Moo (turkey + beef).
An organic product line is also in the pipeline along with Kosher and Halal products.
They taste more like beef than chicken
“What makes them different is the proprietary process of combining the beef and chicken so the burgers retain the moisture and juiciness that you expect from a beef burger," he says.
“They taste more like beef than chicken, but have a slightly lighter flavor and a better bite and chew. When we first gave them to our friends they said we’ve never tasted burgers this good, and then we told them what was in them and they couldn’t believe it. We thought they would appeal to women, but men really like the fact that they are high in protein but lower in fat and calories.
“So we designed the packaging, got USDA approval on the labels and started testing them more widely - and 80% of people that tasted them loved them - which is pretty great for a new product. Today they are listed at Kings, Fairways, and Publix, and I'll be able to talk about several more retail chains in the coming weeks."
Longer-term, Gold is thinking big. “I wanted to be national going out of the gate, selling fresh and frozen products. If the fresh does really well we’d look at working with processing plants on the west coast as well [the burgers are currently manufactured for Gold by a firm in New Jersey].”
Next in the pipeline: Oink ‘n Moo (pork + beef), and Gobble ‘n Moo (turkey + beef)
Gold, who has already built up a strong contacts list after his years of selling chicken products, has also had a lot of inquiries from foodservice firms, schools, and healthcare companies that are looking for leaner protein options, grass-fed beef, and poultry that is antibiotic-free, he says.
“Millennials are really into reading labels and they are also concerned about animal welfare. As for raising animals without antibiotics, I think that this is already moving into the mainstream. I think eventually the government will outlaw the use of antibiotics in chickens altogether.”
Currently Gold is financing the business himself but will seek out additional investment if things take off, noting that in the food industry - as opposed to the tech industry - venture capital firms will “not throw money at you just for having a great idea”, but want solid proof of commercial success.