Aucklanders cannot get enough of burgers.
Like the humble pie, which has evolved from a $1 nightmare at a service station to top quality pastry delights, the burger too has experienced a boom in the past five years.
In the five years between 2013 and 2018, 27 new companies were registered in Auckland with the word burger in their name, according to the New Zealand Companies Office.
But it's not just Aucklanders craving the taste sensation.
Nationwide there were 68 companies bearing the name "burger" in that period.
That compares with the previous five years when "burger" was used 23 times in the creation of new companies and Auckland accounted for 14 of those.
Federal Lane restaurateur and celebrity chef Al Brown put the growth of the burger down to people's love of the all-in-one meal. "People generally love a burger. Now, these days, it's what is the ultimate burger."
Each piece of the burger had its own significance. But Brown was not a fan of the brioche bun - a popular choice for burger providers in recent years.
"If the burger is juicy, by the time you get to those last few mouthfuls the bread is falling to pieces.
"But some people swear by the brioche bun, I myself like the milk bun."
That's a soft white bun with "a whole lot of numbers built into it" that held together.
The meat choice defined the burger but also raised several possibilities, Brown explained.
"What cuts of meats, the fat ratio of the burger itself, what spice or seasoning you are adding ... "
Purists held the cheeseburger in high regard, he said. "To me, it's a perfect bun, perfect burger still caramelised on the outside, medium-rare, cheese melted, good pickle, red onion, iceberg lettuce, ketchup and a little bit of mustard.
"Soft, delicious and fun to eat, that's what it's all about."
The average price? How long is a piece of string?
Prices and ingredients vary for the ubiquitous burger.
There is the consistently cheap, and large, fish and chip shop burgers selling for about $5-$7 depending on how much meat you ask for.
Mid-range burgers at retail chains such as Wendy's, KFC, Burger King and McDonald's averaged $7 per burger with outliers like a sub $3 cheeseburger or a lavish $10 deluxe burger.
The price continues to rise for the discerning burger lover with joints like Burger Burger, found in Ponsonby, Newmarket and Takapuna, charging around $13 for a burger.
The iconic Sky City Casino has even tapped into the market with its own restaurant Andy's Burgers offering succulent treats from the classic cheeseburger with fries for $15.50 or the more daring crab burger and fries for $19.
Auckland Council did not keep specific data to be able to accurately determine the number of burger restaurants in Auckland, a spokesperson said.
International burger franchises off the grill
Despite the increase of players in the market, three of the more prominent burger brands failed to sizzle in 2017 with sales rising at a slower pace than what Kiwis were willing to spend on food and beverage services.
Government data show New Zealanders increased the value of retail spending on food and beverage services 9.1 per cent to $11.28 billion in the year ended March 31, with the volume sold rising 6.8 per cent, indicating higher prices.
While not exactly aligned, financial statements lodged with the Companies Office show total revenue - including rental revenue, licence fees, service fees and interest received - at McDonald's Restaurants New Zealand rose a modest 0.2 per cent to $260.1 million in calendar 2017.
About 80 per cent of the restaurants are owned and operated by local franchisees.
Meanwhile, revenue at rival Burger King New Zealand - owned by US private equity firm Blackstone Group via Tango Holdings NZ – slipped 2.2 per cent to $187.3m, and NZAX-listed BurgerFuel Worldwide's New Zealand revenue, which includes franchise fees, rose 8.8 per cent to $21.1m in the year ended March 31.
Carl's Jr, owned by NZX-listed Restaurant Brands New Zealand, posted a 3.9 per cent decline to $34.9m in the year ended February 26.
Despite the muted sales performance, the burger chains' bottom lines were mixed. Of the majors, McDonald's local profit rose 28 per cent to $67.7m, while Burger King posted a profit of $3.1m versus $3.8m in the prior year, a drop of 18 per cent.
BurgerFuel's net loss was $463,999, which it said was due to costs associated with the initial establishment and later exiting of the US, which all occurred within the period.
Carl's Jr improved its profitability, doubling earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to $2m.
The local McDonald's division paid $30m to its US parent, unchanged from a year earlier.