Anybody logging onto social media today, particularly Twitter, will likely see burger joint Rocomama’s trending.
This is because an article from the Cape Times is being circulated online which paints the franchise in a terrible light.
At the centre of the controversy is Rocomama’s claiming it is the registered proprietor of the Smashburger in response to a food truck known as Rack n Grill serving a smash burger. As a result, Rocomamas has put pressure on Rack n Grill to change the name of its burger even though owner Muammer Kasu says his burger uses two words rather than the single word which is trademarked.
Now, Rocomamas has trademarked smashburger, but a smash burger, like a cheese burger, is simply a style of burger.
A smash burger is so named because during preparation you are meant to smash the burger into a flat-top grill. The result is a burger with crispy edges courtesy of the Maillard Reaction.
Anybody who has eaten at Rocomamas will know that the outlet doesn’t prepare it’s burgers that way and instead serves a thick patty similar to most burger chains.
How do we have so much knowledge about burgers? We’re food nerds and we’ve spent a lot of time learning from experts.
While there is no shortage of cooking content on YouTube, for anything burger related we refer to First We Feast. First We Feast doesn’t only host Hot Ones, but a variety of shows about food. Our favourite of these shows are The Burger Scholar Sessions and The Burger Show.
The Burger Scholar Sessions is presented by burger obsessed George Motz, who has the goal of preserving the American Hamburger and the various styles it takes across the US. Importantly, Motz is widely regarded as the smash burger king.
The Burger Scholar Sessions is well worth a few hours of your time if you are interested in learning about how one style of burger can take multiple forms across a region
The Burger Show was started by Alvin Cailan and features top chefs making hamburgers. This episode featuring Cailan, Motz and crispy king J. Kenji López-Alt is one of the best and while each burger is different, they are all smashed.
To sum up then, Rocomamas is not making smash burgers and while it might’ve trademarked the singular word “smashburgers”, it’s clear that it’s flexing its weight in Rack n Grill’s direction which is just appalling behaviour.
There’s also the matter of their being a burger chain in the US with the name Smashburger, something chairperson of the Cape Town Food Truck Association, Hayden Seboa has a theory about.
“The only reason they [Rocomamas] probably filed a trademark for ‘Smashburger’ was to prevent the growing US Smashburger chain from entering the SA market,” Seboa told the Cape Times.
Perhaps Rocomamas should focus on making better burgers rather than bullying small business owners.
If you’re in Cape Town maybe give Rack n Grill some love, the owner has had to get legal advice regarding this matter and that is never cheap.
All this talk of burgers has made us hungry.