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Naperville North students compete in burger wars

Tori Penton, a sophomore marketing student at Naperville North, eats a Big "G" Burger members of her class created for Tom & Eddie's 2014 Burger Challenge on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The burger topped with garlic aioli sauce, Swiss cheese, a tomato, haystack onions and fries is available through May 28 at the Naperville location.  |  Suzanne Baker ~ Sun-Times Media
The Premier Pizza Burger was one of two featured creations in Tom & Eddie's 2014 Burger Challenge at Naperville North High School.  |  Submitted photo

NAPERVILLE — The Big “G” Burger team can notch a big W in their column, and so can the special needs program at Naperville North and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

This semester’s marketing students at Naperville North gobbled up Tom & Eddie’s 2014 Spring Burger Challenge: create and market a product that will sell the most burgers during an event.

The winner, with almost twice as many burgers sold (113-66), was the Big “G,” a gourmet burger on a bun with roasted garlic aioli sauce topped with Swiss cheese, tomato, French fries and haystack onions. The other entry was the Premier Pizza Burger, a gourmet burger on ciabatta with garlic butter topped with pepperoni, spicy marina sauce and fried mozzarella.

Tori Penton, a sophomore marketing student, likened the tension of the school’s burger wars to that of a Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild hockey game. Early in the evening Wednesday, Penton already was confident her class was going to win because of their push through social media and one-on-one contact to get people through the door to purchase the Big “G.”

Turns out Penton’s early prognostication was right.

Rich Ward, operations manager at Tom & Eddie’s, said the Big “G” team pulled ahead early in the evening and never looked back.

“Perhaps it was the tactic of greeting people and the door that worked,” he said.

While the number of burgers sold — 179 total — were not as much as the fall competition, Ward said the dollars were slightly higher. Team Big “G” sold $1,206 worth of food, sides and beverages while Team Premier Pizza Burger sold $752.

Higher food sales mean more money for the two teams’ charities. Team Big “G” chose the special needs program at Naperville North High School because members wanted to help students within their own school. Make-a-Wish Foundation was chosen by team Pizza Burger.

Erin Carolan, a senior whose team crafted the Big “G,” said her group originally wanted to make a barbecue burger, but they realized the concept was overdone. After looking at market research on what young people like to eat, they came up with the Big “G” — garlic aioli the big component and onions coming in a close second.

“People love onions,” Carolan said. “When Rich told us about the haystack onions, we knew we had to have that.”

The team also liked the idea of putting the French fries on the burger.

And no burger would be complete without cheese.

“Originally we had American cheese. Then we though Swiss cheese would probably taste better,” Carolan added.

Ward said this is the third year the restaurant has participated in a burger challenge. The competition has grown to 12 high schools in the western suburbs with the Naperville Tom & Eddie’s location hosting burger wars with all five high schools in school districts 203 and 204.

Those who missed the competition can still sample the winning entry because Tom & Eddie’s location at Ogden Avenue and Naper Boulevard will keep the Big “G” Burger on the menu through May 28.

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