Even as customers happily stand in long lines for a customized Zeppelin, and Bread Zeppelin opens location after location in Texas, the press is somewhat baffled by the phenomenon. First, there's the name, and writers tie themselves in knots trying to figure it out. Is it called a Zeppelin because it's not suitable for a transatlantic flight?
Another effort: "The Zeppelin: Hollowed Be Thy Name." Then there's the Zeppelin itself - a cored artisan baguette with a customized chopped salad inside. Why a baguette instead of a taco? Why hollow it out?
Co-Founders/Owners Andrew Schoellkopf and Troy Charhon have good reasons for all of the above. Tortillas fall apart, hence, baguettes. Hollowing out the baguette gives you all the crunch but fewer calories. Schoellkopf and Charhon say that they faced the question of how to serve their salads: "We wanted to give our customers an option to enjoy their salad in a unique way. That is where the Zeppelin was born." The chopped salad filling can be customized with 40 different kinds of fillings and 20 kinds of dressing to go with them.
What is the reason for the customer fascination with watching their Zeppelins being put together? Schoellkopf and Charhon believe that it's about the "... satisfaction of knowing you built your own meal from scratch and you were a part of the process. We tried to implement "to-go" salads, those which were already prepared from our most popular menu items. This idea didn't work. When we asked our customers why they didn't want to skip the line, they said they would rather wait and that they enjoyed the process. They love seeing it all come together."
The Zeppelin brings together a number of food trends in a unique way. There's the increasing move away from processed foods and towards healthier and fresher options. There's the popularity of chopped salads. The baguette packaging is what sets the Zeppelins apart. Schoellkopf and Charhon insist that it's not a sandwich: "We don't consider a Zeppelin a sandwich by definition since nothing is being "sandwiched". What the Submarine is to the sandwich, the Zeppelin is to the salad. It's still a chopped salad, but presented in a new and effective manner."
Schoellkopf and Charhon have done their time in the food industry before opening Bread Zeppelin, and researched all options thoroughly before settling on baguettes from the Empire Bakery: "The Zeppelin is our innovation and completely unique to the industry. We are very proud of it." It is a remarkably healthy meal in a neat package, combining lettuce, protein, vegetables, super fruits like cranberries and oranges and crunchy toppings.
Menu favorites include the Southwest, Metropolitan Cobb, Lone Star, Atlantis and the Washington State. In case you were wondering, the insides of the baguettes are used for croutons for the salads, so nothing is wasted. The chopped salads are also served in bowls for those who prefer to go that route.