Last month, the items that consumers found most craveable weren't the same ones they said they were most likely to purchase. While desserts and dessert-inspired drinks reign among the most craveable LTOs, diners are more apt to order familiar entrees like chicken sandwiches and cheesy pastas. Click ahead to see the five most craveable limited-time chain items from November and December, followed by the five items consumers say they’re most likely to purchase. Items are listed from fifth to first, as indicated by Technomic’s MenuSurf survey. (The canvass of 500 consumers shows which of around 60 LTOs are deemed the most craveable or are most likely to be ordered on the basis of the item’s name and description.) Let’s start with the most craveable.
5. Starbucks’ Brown Sugar Shortbread Frappuccino
The holiday dessert beverage features espresso, milk and ice blended with shortbread cookie flavors and topped with whipped cream and crunchy shortbread sugar topping. Despite it being ranked fifth among the most craveable LTOs for December, only 27.8% of consumers say they’d consider purchasing the drink. However, the item does place third among MenuSurf’s uniqueness ranking, at 77.03%.
4. El Pollo Loco’s Mango Shrimp Taco Platter
The QSR’s platter—a July LTO that was recently returned—features two tacos filled with shrimp, sliced avocado, mango salsa, Cotija cheese, cabbage and avocado salsa. Despite its high score on craveability, only 39.4% of consumers say they’d be likely to purchase the Mango Shrimp Taco Platter.
3. Starbucks’ Brown Sugar Shortbread Latte
The latte version of the aforementioned Brown Sugar Shortbread Frappuccino features all of the same ingredients, minus the blended ice. As with the Frappuccino, the latte version ranks on the low end of purchase intent: Only 30.8% of consumers say they’d consider purchasing it.
2. Bobby’s Burger Palace’s Caramel Apple Shake
The fast-casual burger chain’s November shake of the month featured tart green apples and sweet caramel. Despite ranking second among the most craveable LTOs, the Caramel Apple Shake scored much lower on purchase intent (38.8%).
1. Maggiano’s Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake
This casual-dining dessert—which features cinnamon whipped cream and candied pecans—is the No. 1 most craveable December LTO. Though it returns every year, the chain made it the Eat-A-Dish for Make-A-Wish Dessert in 2017, meaning Maggiano’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish for each order. It was available by the slice or whole. However, this dessert also ranks on the low end of LTOs in terms of purchase intent: Only 31.2% of respondents say they’d buy it.
5. Olive Garden’s Five Cheese Tortelloni al Forno
The $13.79 entree features tortelloni filled with five Italian cheeses, baked in a creamy marinara sauce and topped with melted cheese, toasted breadcrumbs and sun-dried tomatoes. Olive Garden’s other December-launched LTO, Cheese Filled Gnocchi with Grilled Chicken, ranks slightly lower—only 43% of consumers say they would purchase it.
4. Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s Sweet ’N Smoky Chicken Sandwich
Available through Dec. 31, the winter entree featured grilled chicken, bacon, spinach, a smoked cheese blend and sweet-savory chipotle cranberry jam on flatbread. Some 61.42% of consumers say they also found the sandwich craveworthy.
3. Baskin-Robbins’ Tiramisu Warm Brownie Sundae
The sole dessert on the top five most purchaseable LTOs of the month, this QSR sweet treat features a warm brownie and tiramisu ice cream sundae topped with hot fudge, real whipped cream and chopped almonds. Two in three consumers (66.67%) say they also find the item craveable.
2. Glory Days Grill’s Open Faced Turkey Sandwich
This entree features oven-roasted turkey breast that’s thinly sliced and topped with traditional cornbread stuffing and turkey gravy, served on grilled Texas toast with a side of mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. The other items Glory Days Grill launched in December didn’t rank as high—41% of consumers say they’d purchase the chain’s Buffalo Chicken Wontons, and just 39.2% say they’d order the Buffalo Cauliflower Wings.
1. Taco Bell’s Rolled Chicken Tacos
First introduced in November 2014 and returning around the same time every year since, Taco Bell’s Rolled Chicken Tacos rank first among December LTOs with the greatest purchase intent. The item features a fried corn tortilla rolled up with shredded all-white-meat chicken, and comes with a choice of dipping sauce: spicy ranch, nacho cheese, guacamole, salsa or reduced-fat sour cream. They’re available as an order of two with one dip for $2.29, an order of four with two dips for $4.49, or in a Taco Duo 12-pack, which includes six Rolled Chicken Tacos, six crunchy tacos and three dips for $12.99.