This spring, consumers are still gravitating toward familiar foods, with burgers, potatoes and breakfast items rising to the top in Technomic’s LTO ranking. But operators are giving these limited-time offers a twist, elevating flavor profiles with ingredients like mesquite butter, caramelized onions and oven-roasted tomatoes. These additions differentiate these menu items from the crowd.
Click through to see the 10 most appealing LTOs at chain restaurants in descending order from March through April, as indicated by Technomic’s menu concept development survey. The canvass of 500 consumers for more than 100 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. Mesquite Butter Bacon Cheeseburger
Sonic Drive-In added layers of flavor to its cheeseburger, topping it with a dollop of smoky mesquite butter along with grilled onions, bacon and barbecue sauce. The burger is sandwiched on a premium brioche bun. The description convinced 53% of consumers to say they would purchase it.
9. Bacon Breakfast Wrap
Bacon remains a way to add craveability to a menu item. Corner Bakery Café’s Bacon Breakfast Wrap includes scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, oven-roasted tomatoes and spinach along with bacon, all enclosed in a tomato basil wrap—adding a good portion of vegetables to the morning meal. Of those consumers surveyed, 54% indicated they would order this breakfast wrap.
8. Heinz 57 Burger
Several burgers made it to the Top 10 list, including this one from Friendly’s. The branded sauce in the name of the item reinforces familiarity, as do the ingredients in the description: A juicy beef patty stacked with all the classic fixings—Swiss cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato and mayo—and off with a generous layer of crispy fronions and Heinz 57 Sauce. The burger appealed to 55% of respondents.
7. Vermonter Burger
The No. 7 pick was another burger from Friendly’s—the Vermonter. This one came in just a few percentage points ahead, with 55% of consumers saying they would purchase it. The Vermonter Burger has components that are more on-trend, layering sharp cheddar cheese over a juicy beef patty, stacked with maple pepper bacon on a grilled ciabatta roll. Lettuce, tomato and mayo complete the build.
6. Hearty Man’s Combo Platter
Hearty breakfasts seem to be a lure, with this combo platter from Perkins Restaurant & Bakery getting high marks from 55% of respondents. It’s composed of two eggs, smoked sausage, two Applewood smoked bacon strips and two sausage links. Served with crispy hash browns or breakfast potatoes and choice of three buttermilk pancakes, fresh baked “Mammoth Muffin” or buttered toast.
5. Loaded Hash Brown Platter
Consumers also gravitated toward this generous breakfast platter at Baker’s Square. It features a similar makeup to the one at Perkins: two eggs, any style, two bacon strips and two sausage links, loaded hash browns and choice of toast, English muffin, buttermilk pancakes, bakery muffin or biscuit. The combination and variety appealed to 55% of consumers.
4. Samuel Adams Fish and Chips
Here again, a branded ingredient in the name of a menu item seems to spur purchase intent. Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom described this fish and chips combo as “Samuel Adams beer battered cod lightly fried and served with tangy tartar sauce, coleslaw and seasoned fries.” That menu description ranked high with 56% of survey respondents, who indicated they would order it.
3. Turtle Cheesecake Mini
Mini desserts are a specialty at Seasons 52, a chain known to keep calorie counts in check. This limited-time dessert boasts indulgent, popular flavors in the menu description, including cheesecake, salted caramel, dark chocolate ganache and candied pecan. The idea that it’s possible to indulge in these sweet ingredients in a smaller format appealed to 56% of those surveyed.
2. Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes
Taco Bell fans have been campaigning for the return of the QSR’s potatoes, and their wish came true with the this spring’s limited-time offer of Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes. The warm and seasoned potato bites topped with nacho cheese sauce and reduced fat sour cream would be purchased by 56% of consumers, according to Technomic.
1. Double Bacon Burger Grilled Cheese
Ranking first on the list of most appealing LTOs is this mashup of a burger and grilled cheese at Fox & Hound Grill and Bar. The dish includes crumbled burger meat topped with bacon, American and provolone cheese, caramelized onions, pickles and 1000 island dressing on Parmesan sourdough bread. Fifty-six percent of consumers said they would purchase this item after reading the name and description.