Burger Shops Across the Country Are Ditching This Long-Standing Staple Ingredient
Chefs and restaurant owners from coast to coast are starting to denounce one of the biggest staples in the world of top-notch burgers—the iconic Martin's potato rolls. While they acknowledge that Martin's is still the best potato roll out there for their burger creations, the boycott is political in nature.
A report recently brought to light that members of the Martin family—who own and operate the brand many consider unbeatable when it comes to soft, squishy rolls for burgers and hot dogs—have ties to the far-right Pennsylvania state senator Doug Mastriano.
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According to Billy Penn, the company's executive chair Jim Martin and his wife and daughter, who also hold positions at Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe, have donated more than $110,000 to the politician with a track record of peddling QAnon conspiracy theories, taking part in the January 6th insurrection, and holding ultra-conservative stances on civil rights issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights and gun control.
Martin's attempted to distance itself from the political affiliations of its owners, claiming the company itself does not support any particular candidate or party (Mastriano is currently running for Pennsylvania governor against democrat Josh Shapiro.)
Still, calls for a boycott of Martin's products from restaurant industry figures are piling up. According to Eater, chefs like J. Kenji López-Alt, Sammy Monsour, and Tom Colicchio are all distancing themselves from the brand and will no longer be using Martin's at their restaurants.
In an Instagram post, López-Alt called on Shake Shack and Federal Donuts, two of the biggest chains that use Martin's rolls for their burgers, to switch to other suppliers.
"I will not be buying any more Martin's products, nor will I support any establishment that uses their buns until they change suppliers, and I'd urge you to do the same if you don't want your dollars supporting this stuff (this includes all @shakeshack and @federaldonuts locations)," the post reads.
So far, Shake Shack, which pegs itself as an ethical brand championing LGBTQ+ rights and racial equality, hasn't made any moves or public announcements of changing up its relationship with Martin's. The company said in a statement that it continues an active conversation with Martin's to express concerns around the donations, but says they are "the choices of those individuals and do not express the values of Shake Shack."
Shake Shack has been using Martin's potato rolls on all its burgers exclusively since its inception in 2004.
Federal Donuts, a small regional chain owned by Pennsylvania-based chef and restauranteur Michael Solomonov, serves its popular chicken sandwiches on the rolls. The company said it is "working on this," but has not yet released a further clarification on its stance.
Other regional burger shops, like Mike's BBQ in Philadelphia, Lil' Eagle Burger in the Bay Area, and Harlem Shake in New York City, have said they are switching burger rolls.
But it isn't just industry leaders that were rattled by the news. Customers have been contacting companies known to be using Martin's products to express their concerns.
"Don't forget @blueapron, their customer service responded to my mom's message of concern with a set of instructions for how to unsubscribe," commented one Instagram user to López-Alt's post. Another said: "Post this link for people to contact Martin. I already told them I am done with them and anyone using their product. https://potatorolls.com/contact/"