There was a lot of activity on chain menus this summer, as operators launched new seasonal items to get customers out of the sun and in the door. Click ahead to see the 10 most appealing LTOs at chains from July through August, as indicated by Technomic’s MenuSurf survey. (The canvass of 500 consumers for 100 or more LTOs shows which are most likely to be ordered on the basis of the item’s name and description. Results are rounded to the nearest whole number.)
10. Smokehouse Beef Short Rib Sandwich
Arby’s has found success by offering authentic smoked brisket and other smoked meats in limited-time offers. In August, chain introduced a slow-smoked beef short rib sandwich, which appealed to 58.4% of consumers surveyed. They were intrigued by its description: “Beef short rib smoked for at least six hours, pulled off the bone, covered with melted cheddar cheese, crispy onions, and smoky BBQ sauce and put between two pieces of Texas toast.” The wording reinforces Arby’s point of differentiation in the fast-food space: smoking meats low and slow pitmaster-style.
9. Steakhouse Quesadilla
References to steakhouses hint toward an upscale dining experience, an implication Outback is promoting in its Steakhouse Quesadilla appetizer. Consumers took notice, with59.6% saying they would order the quesadilla after its contents were revealed. It’s composed of a tortilla stuffed with tender slow-roasted prime rib, Monterey Jack cheese, chipotle spread, cilantro and green onions and served with a dollop of sour cream.
8. Patty Melt Sandwich
Meat and cheese seem to be a recurring theme among August LTOs. That sounds like business as usual for Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano, which took its menu in an all-American direction with its Patty Melt Sandwich. The item features a half-pound Angus beef patty, Swiss and smoked cheddar cheeses, caramelized onions and tomato aioli on grilled pumpernickel bread. The combo appealed to 61.2% of consumers surveyed, who said they would order the patty melt based on its description.
7. Bacon Smokehouse Artisan Grilled Chicken
McDonald’s also followed the smoky route, opting for chicken rather than beef in its smoke-flavored sandwich LTO. Adding the word “smoke” to name and menu details was a win—62.2% of consumers were tempted by the item. The sandwich features grilled chicken with crispy, applewood-smoked bacon, smoky bacon-onion sauce, real white cheddar, mild sweet mustard sauce and in-house fried onion strings on an artisan roll.
6. Savory Sausage Breakfast Sliders
A downsized breakfast sandwich from Hardee’s earned points with consumers, with 62.8% saying they would purchase its Savory Sausage Breakfast Sliders. The item is described as “a fluffy scrambled egg, sausage patty and golden melted cheese, all sandwiched between a slider bun.” Customers looking for a hearty morning meal can order up a few sliders, but for those seeking a second breakfast or midmorning snack, one or two might be just the right portion size.
4. Buttermilk Fried Chicken Dinner
Perkins Restaurant & Bakery launched a comfort-food favorite that’s also a popular summer picnic meal, resulting in 64.6% of survey respondents saying they would purchase it. The way the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Dinner was listed on the menu evokes a homey, made-from-scratch meal: two all-white boneless chicken fillets, hand-battered with our specially seasoned buttermilk blend and crispy fried till golden brown.
3. Applewood-Smoked Bacon Breakfast Sliders
These breakfast sliders from Hardee’s sub bacon for a sausage patty—a swap that seems to appeal to consumers. Sixty-five percent would order these from the description, compared to 62.8% for the sausage sliders. The words “smoked” and “applewood bacon” seem to be selling points.
2. Bacon Smokehouse Burger
McDonald’s also capitalized on bacon and smoke with another one of its summer LTOs, the Bacon Smokehouse Burger. The burger’s description is packed with flavorful adjectives, such as crispy applewood-smoked bacon, smoky bacon-onion sauce, real white cheddar and mild sweet mustard sauce. McDonald’s also touted the in-house fried onion strings and artisan rolls that come with the item, continuing its emphasis on fresh, housemade ingredients. That resonated with 67.4% of consumers, who
Burger King took a detour from its iconic burgers to introduce tacos as an LTO. They were basic, very Americanized versions, described as a hard taco shell filled with seasoned meat, American cheese, lettuce and red sauce. Consumers seemed to like the idea of Burger King tacos, with 68% of those surveyed saying they would order the tacos after reading their description. This ranked them in the No. 1 spot for purchase intent.