If you know anything about school lunches, it’s this: Trying new things on the menu isn’t always the best idea.
But that didn’t stop the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District from introducing a new product called the “Char-Meck-A-Nator.” What’s a “Char-Meck-A-Nator” you ask? Well, it’s a sandwich with a ground beef patty, with cheese mixed in, and tomato ketchup baked on the top of the burger patty.
If that sounds like meatloaf on a bun, that’s because it’s freakin' meatloaf on a bun.
In fact, according to The Charlotte Observer, the unusual name for the burger came about out of a distinct attempt to avoid calling it meatloaf on a bun. Dietician Margaret Cameron felt the sandwich, which the district had experimented with at the end of the prior school year, needed a good name—and by combining the school district’s name with the concept of the Wendy’s Baconator, they found a winner.
“‘Meatloaf’ was not the word we wanted to use,” Cameron said. “It’s a little antiquated.”
The sandwich, unfortunately, became a bit of a butt of jokes on social media, and also made some wonder whether the district was serving kids healthy food—or more importantly, food that met federal dietary guidelines for schools.
The district emphasized it did, but the added attention didn’t stop the school from taking down a commercial promoting the new sandwich on its Facebook account. Alas, they took it down before I could see it, but I heard it had a clip of Will Ferrell. (Hey, school nutritionists have a tough job! They’re trying to make the food palatable!)
Admittedly, the real test will be if this burger catches on. Will meatloaf on a bun become a North Carolina specialty along the lines of the state’s two distinct styles of BBQ? Time will tell.
But I will say this much: If a swank New York City eatery came up with this sandwich idea, rather than a North Carolina school district, we'd be handing them James Beard awards. Because this sounds like something a swank NYC eatery would create.