Consumer Trends

Meat and potatoes dominated Spring's Top 10 LTOs

Recent data from Restaurant Business sister company, Technomic, reveals the menu items consumers would most likely purchase at chain restaurants.
meat and potatoes
Six of the top 10 most appealing menu items included beef or potatoes. | Photo: Shutterstock

A change in the seasons usually inspires chefs to change up the menu to reflect new-to-the-market ingredients. And many chain menus did add seasonal fruits and vegetables, lighter seafood entrees and frozen desserts this spring. But when it comes to limited-time offers, it looks like meat and potatoes are what consumers are most likely to order, according to Technomic’s tracking data.  

In descending order from No. 10 to No. 1, these LTOs ranked highest in purchase intent after respondents read just the name and description of the item. Percentages are rounded off to the nearest whole number.

10. Skillet Sirloin Steak Sampler

This limited-time offer from Cracker Barrel appealed to 60% of consumers surveyed, who said they would purchase it from the name and description of the item. It’s made with tender USDA choice sirloin steak grilled to order and drizzled with garlic butter sauce. The sampler is served with a choice of crispy buttermilk country fried shrimp, hand-breaded fried chicken tenders or marinated and grilled chicken tenders, two country sides and buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins.

9. Smoky Southern Grilled Chicken

Cracker Barrel also was rated in the Top 10 with this chicken dish, which 60% of respondents would purchase. In a pivot from the chain’s popular fried chicken, it features two grilled chicken breasts flavored with smoky Southern seasoning and served with two country sides and buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins.

8. French Toast Sticks with Syrup

Breakfast items fell into two of the Top 10, with Jack in the Box’s on-trend French Toast Sticks appealing to 61% of consumers. The versatility of the item shines through in its description: “These French Toast Sticks with syrup are the perfect accessory to any meal. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner—they're perfect; 3 piece or 6 piece.”

Culver's

The beefy Smokehouse BBQ Cheddar Pub Burger from Culver's was a draw for survey respondents. | Photo courtesy of Culver's

7. Smokehouse BBQ Cheddar Pub Burger

Back to the meat of the matter, 61% of survey respondents said they would purchase Culver’s Smokehouse BBQ Cheddar Pub Burger, a returning LTO. The tempting description might have swayed them: “Fresh never frozen beef layered with our sweet and tangy barbeque sauce, cheddar cheese, crispy onion rings, pickles and signature mayo all served on a cheddar cheese bun.”

6. Strawberry Shortcake

The only dessert that made the cut is this Strawberry Shortcake from California Pizza Kitchen, which actually includes a signature seasonal fruit—strawberries. Sixty-one percent of consumers said they would purchase the dessert, described like this: “Our delicious shortcake biscuit piled high with seasonal strawberries, whipped cream and housemade candied lemon zest. Recommended with Vanilla Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream.”

5. Loaded Mashed Potatoes

This comfort food favorite from Cracker Barrel landed at No. 5, with 62% of respondents saying they would purchase it. The side dish includes the chain’s classic mashed potatoes, bacon pieces, Colby cheese and green onions.

brisket burrito

The Texas brisket burrito at Freebirds World Burrito landed at No. 4 in the Top 10 ranking of LTOs. | Photo courtesy of Freebirds World Burrito.

4. Texas Brisket

A sure sign of Spring is the return of the brisket burrito to Freebirds World Burrito, a move that appealed to 62% of those surveyed by Technomic. The brisket is seasoned with the chain’s proprietary spice rub and slow smoked to perfection. “The new and improved brisket is packed with the classic flavors of Texas barbecue,” reads the description.

3. Jumbo Breakfast Platter

Jack in the Box also scored high with this breakfast item, which landed at No. 3 with 62% of consumers indicating they would purchase it. The platter is a combo of scrambled eggs, a hash brown, hickory-smoked bacon, sausage or bacon and sausage, plus six French Toast Sticks and syrup. It’s offered all day, every day, according to the description—an added attraction.

2. All American Ribeye Steakhouse Burger

This item sounds pretty upscale for Jack in the Box, and the words “ribeye” and “steakhouse” in the name might have led 63% of respondents to say they would order it. The description reinforces that perception: “100% ribeye beef, natural cheddar cheese, aioli, red onion, lettuce and tomato all on a potato bun. Steakhouse quality but make it Jack.”

  1. Smashed Potatoes

A relatively simple name and description landed smashed potatoes from Mission BBQ in the top spot by several points. Indeed, 68% of consumers said they would purchase this side dish after reading the description: “Premium russet potatoes gently steamed and smashed with cream, garlic and spices.” It’s a fan favorite no matter what the season.

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