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Udi’s & Smashburger: A Gluten-Free Disaster

Udi’s & Smashburger: A Gluten-Free Disaster

This is either a story of good intentions gone bad. Or it’s a story of a BS move by a large gluten-free company.

I will let you be the judge.

This story starts in the Summer of 2014 with the following announcement from Smashburger:

“Smashburger Announces New National Partnership with Udi’s Gluten Free”

They even had an official press release and everything!! (yes…that is sarcasm).

If you are not familiar with Smashburger, they are a “high end” burger joint. They currently have 300 restaurants in 32 states, with some locations overseas as well. So they are no small potatoes.

And we all know who Udi’s is. They are the company that continues to give us bread like this:

holes in udis bread

So when a major franchise partners with a major gluten-free company, you would think they would be doing it for those who NEED to be gluten-free, right?

I mean, why make a big fuss about it if you are only going to do it half-ass?

Why spend all the time and resources if you are strictly marketing to the fad dieters?

I think you see where this is going (and if not, maybe it’s time to grab that second cup of coffee.)

I received the following email the other day:

Hi Gluten Dude,

I had a recent experience at a Smashburger in Phoenix that was really irritating. They offered “gluten free” menu items, which I would normally be skeptical of at a fast food place, but they were advertising a partnership with Udi’s, which is a brand I generally trust to be celiac safe. (Not just “we now serve Udi’s buns,” but a “partnership.”)

Unfortunately, when I asked my standard cross-contamination questions, it turned out I could not have ANYTHING that could be served on an Udi’s bun. Not only are all of their burgers made on a shared griddle with grilled cheese, but they toast the Udi’s buns in the same toaster they use for their regular buns. I’m not really angry at Smashburger (it’s fast food, so I don’t expect much), but I’m so tired of “gluten free” not really meaning gluten free, and it bothers me that Udi’s entered into a partnership with them and is willing to let them advertise that when they are not taking ANY precautions to make the food safe. I mean, Pizza Hut takes it more seriously (though I still wouldn’t eat there).

I always had the impression that Udi’s actually cared about making safe gluten free food, so I kind of expected better. I’d be curious to hear what you think – am I just totally wrong to trust the Udi’s brand?


What do I think? I think it sucks. It’s not like they are even trying to keep it safe for us. So what’s the point? Why have gluten-free rolls if the people who NEED gluten-free rolls cannot eat the gluten-free rolls.

A$ I read the Pre$$ Relea$e from $mashburger, it became cry$tal clear. Take a look at $ome of these gem$.

“Smashburger and Udi’s share a passion for providing guests with great-tasting, high-quality food, so the partnership was a natural fit for us.”

While Udi’s may be affordable, offer a wide range of products, and hit the occasional home run, “great tasting” and “high-quality” are not the first two phrases that come to mind for me.

“Practicing a gluten-free diet is an emerging consumer trend, and Udi’s is the clear quality leader in the gluten-free category.”

Practicing?? Emerging trend??? Those are not the words celiacs want to hear. We like “safety” and “no cross-contamination”. We’re picky like that.

“By adding Udi’s buns to its menu, Smashburger is making an American classic available to consumers who are choosing gluten-free.”

Bingo! And we have the winner.

Smashburger did not do this for the gluten-free community. They did it for people who CHOOSE to be gluten-free. Smashburger saw a trend and jumped on it. Capitalism 101. And while I don’t like it, I sort of get it.

And to be fair, they are very honest about it on their website. Straight up, they say “We cannot guarantee that any food will be gluten-free because cross-contact with gluten may occur as shared equipment for menu items is used in our kitchen (for example, we use the same toaster for all of our buns).”

But here’s the problem I have with Smashburger. Fast food joints like Smashburger are just that. Fast food joints. Many people tend to go there on a whim…when they’re out and about. Odds are…many won’t read the website. They will see Udi’s gluten-free buns and think they can have them. And yeah, they may still ask the server all of the cross-contamination questions, but will the server know? Since they are not marketing to celiacs, I can’t imagine them training their staff to be educated.

At the end of the day, it’s on us to know where we can and cannot eat. But this is still a dangerous practice and if one person gets sick, it’s one too many.

But my real beef is with Udi’s. They are the largest name in the gluten-free food industry. They dominate the store shelves. Like it or not, they are a leader in the industry.

With that leadership role comes RESPONSIBILITY. And to me, this Smashburger deal is as irresponsible as it gets.

How can they possibly “partner” with a company when the end product cannot be tolerated by the gluten-free community? It just reeks of greed and ignorance.

If I’m Udi’s and Smashburger comes to me with an offer, my first question would be “Will you do your best to keep it safe for celiacs?” If the answer is anything but a resounding YES, I walk away from the table.

I suppose I’m human that way.

As I wrap this up, to Smashburger I say: I get it. You are trying to broaden your market. Please just consider doing things differently. Either drop the gluten-free offerings or do it right. I’d be happy to hold your hand and show you best practices.

To Udi’s I say: Try not to act like a big, nasty conglomerate. Remember why you began your gluten-free offerings in the first place. I’d like to think it was to keep the gluten-free community safe. You are now failing in that mission. Remove your products from all Smashburger locations until they can provide a safe gluten-free meal to those who need it. Oh…and take a look at that quote above from Mr. Kibaki. That is leadership.

To the gluten-free community I say: Don’t order anything gluten-free at Smashburger. It’s not even close to being safe. And perhaps you can help the community. Head on over to Udi’s Facebook page and nicely let them know that you are disappointed in their partnership with Smashburger and kindly ask them to end the partnership until it can be done right.

Ok…I’m outta here. It’s time to put on some Smashing Pumpkins or perhaps some Smash Mouth and escape for a bit. Is it too early to get smashed??

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Just how important is a mattress to a good night’s sleep?

Tomorrow Sleep hybrid Mattress

It's that time of year again, the weather is getting cooler, the days are growing shorter, the leaves are falling and the fireplace is going strong. That means it's time to stay in and get cozy. I love nothing more than sleep and cuddle time, but I have a confession to make, I'm not great at relaxing and not a good sleeper. I've never been someone whose head just hits the pillow and bam, I'm out.

tomorrow sleep hybrid mattress and memory foam pillowNo, that would be my husband (so jealous). I lay there for awhile thinking. Sometimes I'm planning, thinking about what needs to get done, sometimes I'm replaying a conversation, sometimes I'm thinking about work, or stressing about a problem. You name it. And sometimes, I'm just uncomfortable, tossing and turning, trying to find just the right position.

I'm also a particular sleeper, I have to have a box fan on high and I wear an eyemask from Brookstone that I can't sleep without. I know this makes me sound high maintenance (not going to deny it!) but nobody likes me when I'm tired and cranky. And don't even get me started on snoring. Thank god my husband isn't a snorer, we would have never worked out ;-)

I know how important sleep is, I stress it all the time. Sleep is your time to rejuvenate and repair. Chronically not sleeping enough will lead to weight gain, and many health issues including a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Sleep isn't something to skimp on.

To help me sleep better and wake up more refreshed, instead of hitting my alarm 3 times, (so not a morning person, see above) my husband and I have been thinking about getting a new mattress for awhile. We've looked around and the cost always seemed so prohibitive. We also weren't sure which to get, there are so many options. I've had the same mattress since before college, and it was my parents before that, so fancy mattresses were not something we knew anything about.

That is, until Tomorrow Sleep contacted me. WOW. They sent me a king size hybrid mattress, medium firm, with organic cotton sheets and memory foam pillows. I'm obsessed. I get into bed every night and just sigh, "OMG this is so comfortable". I don't know how I've gone so long without a mattress like this.

And, it inspired us to redo our room. We not only got a new (king size vs queen) mattress but a new bed and headboard, a new rug and new comforter set (organic cotton and fair trade from West Elm). Our room is seriously nice now. I call this our cloud bed, the mattress, comforter, and pillows are like falling into a cloud. Tomorrow Sleep hybrid Mattress

Tomorrow Sleep Mattress: What You Should Know

What is a hybrid mattress?

According to "hybrid mattresses combine two or more support systems, usually memory foam layers along with an innerspring system. Hybrid mattresses are a great way to experience the pressure relieving benefits of memory foam while retaining the classic feel of an innerspring mattress. Hybrid mattresses combine an innerspring system with memory foam (or latex) to deliver the benefits of both technologies. Hybrids allow sleepers to enjoy the perfect blend of sturdy support and contouring comfort."

Tomorrow Sleep's mattresses are American made (love that) and constructed by craftsman right in Charlotte, NC.

Tomorrow Sleep Holistic Sleep System

What I love so much about what Tomorrow Sleep offers, is that it's not just about their Tomorrow Sleep Mattress, it's about so much more. As you read above, sleeping is not easy for everyone, so they've taken into account many things that contribute to a better night's sleep. They offer:

  1. A Hybrid Mattress (got it, love it!)
  2. Memory Foam Pillows (got them, so comfy!)
  3. Plush (hypoallergenic) Pillows
  4. A Sleep Tracker Monitor (high-tech sleep support!)
  5. 500 Thread Count Sheet Set (got them, soooo soft!)
  6. Comforter
  7. Mattress Protector
  8. Drapes (want these!)

10 Tips to Help you Sleep Better

In addition to the wonderful things Tomorrow Sleep offers to help you sleep, I've found a few behaviors that really help me personally:

  • Turn off all your devices and TV at least a half hour before you go to sleep.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not check your email before sleep.
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  • Focus on gratitude, either write down, or say 3 things you are grateful for right now - it puts things into perspective and lowers your stress levels so you can fall asleep easier.
  • Don't drink anything 1.5 hours before bed to avoid waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
  • Practice legs up the wall for 10 minutes (it's so relaxing and probably the single best yoga pose for you).
  • Pick a mantra to focus on, inhaling one thing, exhaling another - for example, inhale "I am relaxed", exhale "everything is as it should be".
  • Have an orgasm (or several), nothing else leaves you feeling quite so satisfied and relaxed.
  • If you're in a relationship, avoid waiting until you get into bed to start problem solving major life events, save that conversation for when you are rested.
  • Don't consume caffeinated beverages after 1pm (depending on how sensitive you are, you may want to cut out the caffeine or stop after your morning cup).
  • Bonus Tip: I've learned a mattress makes a BIG difference, so invest in a good one.

My Overall Review of Tomorrow Sleep's Hybrid MattressTomorrow Sleep Hybrid Mattress

Pros: This bed is heavenly. It's so comfortable and just the right balance of soft and firm. It's comfortable and supportive. I love the memory foam pillows and the sheets are so soft, they are the nicest I've ever owned, and keep me nice and cool. I've been waking up aches and pains free, and actually feeling rested. When one of us moves, the other doesn't get woken up because we don't feel it. It's awesome. Falling asleep has also gotten easier, and my husband loves the bed too. The first time he got in, he had the biggest smile on his face. We feel spoiled.

Cons: I've found myself kicking off the covers in the middle of the night. It could just be the duvet itself, we have had a heat wave in New York the last few weeks. I think we are going to purchase Tomorrow Sleep's mattress protector to keep our mattress nice and also because of its cooling technology. The memory foam pillow is awesome (see pic of Przemek above), but maybe a little bit high if you are a stomach sleeper (like me). I adjusted in about a week though. I have no cons for the sheets, they are perfect, 500 thread-count doesn't stink.

Special Offer to my Readers from Tomorrow Sleep

If you are looking for a mattress, I have $100 savings to offer my readers on any Tomorrow Sleep purchase over $500. The best part? The mattresses ship for free and there's a 100 day trial so you can make sure you choose the best mattress for you.

To take advantage of this offer, use the code: FOODIE100.

Offer expires 12.31.17.

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