Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, said the item is just now starting to go mainstream since Red Robin debuted it recently.
"When you see a brand like Red Robin pick it up, that's a great indication that the trend has become mainstream. When you see a brand like McDonald's pick it up, it's over," Tristano said.
Brands like Red Robin have helped fuel a rapid rise in poutine offerings in the U.S. In the second quarter, there were 52 of those dishes on various menus, up from just six three years ago in the same period, according to Technomic. It's also surging in Canada—more than tripling to 730 in the second quarter, from 204 in the same period in 2012.
With the dish proliferating in restaurants, poutine comes in numerous incarnations. Red Robin's version consists of steak fries covered in gravy, garlic aioli, sautéed mushrooms and fried cheese curds.
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Amy Woolen, the chain's director of field and franchise marketing, said the fries performed significantly better than its benchmark norms in testing.
As it brings poutine to its American audience, it is not choosing to downplay the curds. In fact, it is highlighting them in promotional material and selling them separately as a standalone appetizer.
"We're definitely not shying away from the cheese curds; we love them," said Woolen during a phone interview.