Pizza and chicken sandwiches, two menu newsmakers of 2020, continue to make waves early in 2021. Riffs on these best sellers are grabbing attention at Pizza Hut and Sonic. Other operators are appealing to the universal new year’s resolution to eat healthier with plant-forward and lighter items. And for those who need an extra energy boost after the holiday season, Dunkin’ is offering up a couple of super-caffeinated coffee drinks. Check out what’s happening on menus as we head into January.
From Jan. 5-7, Pizza Hut is offering “Nothing But Stuffed Crust” at select locations in Los Angeles and Dallas. The promotion takes what the chain calls “the most craveable part” of its Original Stuffed Crust Pizza and serves it on its own. Although Papa John’s generated menu excitement this past December with the rollout of its Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza, Pizza Hut’s version made its debut 25 years ago in 1995. Now for three days only, Pizza Hut is offering just the baked ring of cheese-stuffed pizza dough free with any $10 purchase to the first 50 customers each day.
With the return of its Chicken Slinger, Sonic is the latest competitor to join the ongoing chicken sandwich wars. The QSR claims it took the time to nail down the flavor and texture of the breast fillet, perfecting the seasoning, crispness and juiciness of the chicken. The result is an all-white meat crispy chicken fillet topped with mayo and pickles on a brioche bun. Guests can also opt for a new hotter version topped with spicy ranch. Both the Chicken Slinger and Spicy Chicken Slinger are available for $2.49 through Jan. 31.
Two super-caffeinated coffee drinks are now available to Dunkin’ customers. Plus, breakfast sandwich fans have a new plant-forward option at the QSR.
To give coffee drinkers an added boost, the chain introduced Extra Charge Coffee, which comes in both hot and iced formats. Each cup packs in 20% more caffeine, thanks to the addition of green coffee extract. Also new on the drinks side are two hot blends: New Dunkin’ Midnight, the chain’s darkest roast to date, and Explorer Batch, the first in Dunkin’s Limited Batch series featuring coffees from prized growing regions.
On the food front, the chain is kicking off 2021 with the Southwest Veggie Power Breakfast Sandwich. The limited-time offer, on the menu until Jan. 26, layers a seasoned black bean patty with an egg white omelet filled with spinach, bell peppers and onions and topped with white cheddar on a multigrain thin. The health-conscious item weighs in at 410 calories.
El Pollo Loco
El Pollo Loco is also catering to consumers’ healthy resolutions by bringing back its Pollo Fit Bowls. Three options are available to meet specific lifestyles, all with a double portion of citrus-marinated grilled chicken for extra protein. The Double Protein Avocado is a keto-friendly bowl with a base of cauliflower-lime rice, while the Double Protein Fajita bowl adds black beans and fajita vegetables to the mix and the Double Protein Mexican Caesar is heavier on salad ingredients. All include sliced avocado.
Know Better Bowls are the newest entry from fast-casual Chopt. The lineup features three bowls with global flavors, all with a base option of either warm grains or cauliflower rice. The Havana Bowl features roast chicken, crispy plantains, black beans, pickled onions, corn and a cabbage-cilantro blend with a green mojo dressing; the Oaxacan Bowl is topped with red mole-braised beef, cotija cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, pickled onions, radishes and marinated kale with a Mexican green goddess dressing; and the Moroccan Market Bowl is composed of roast chicken, spice-roasted carrots, feta cheese, crisp shallots, dried apricots and cabbage-cilantro blend with harissa green goddess dressing.
The Deliciously Lite Menu is TooJay’s offer for customers committed to healthier eating. The special menu is a collection of entrees that fall under 600 calories each. Among the choices are Shepherd’s Pie, French Onion Soup and a Cheddar Cheese Omelette.
Also returning to TooJay’s menu in January is Roasted Veggie Pasta, available as both a single order and part of a $29 family meal bundle. The item is a toss of garlic, roasted vegetables, spinach and tomatoes with penne pasta and Parmesan cheese. Customers can add chicken or shrimp for an additional charge. Soup and salad are included in the deal.
Low-carb options are the focus of Subway’s new Protein Bowls. The chain is removing the bread from some of its most popular sandwiches and offering the fillings in bowl form. Over 10 choices are available, including turkey and bacon ranch, meatball marinara, Black Forest ham, tuna, sweet onion chicken teriyaki and spicy Italian. Each bowl includes a footlong sandwich’s worth of protein, vegetables and sauces—minus the bread.
Rotisserie-Style Chicken Bites are the latest menu launch from Dairy Queen. A healthier take on fried chicken nuggets, the roasted white meat chicken pieces are available a la carte or in a basket with fries and Texas toast; both come with a choice of dipping sauce. Guests can also order the bites on a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon crumbles, shredded cheddar, red cabbage and carrots.
Juice It Up!
While New Year’s Eve 2020 is now in the rearview mirror, Juice It Up! positioned a few of its raw juices as Jan. 1 hangover cures that can help promote wellness throughout the month. The Detoxifier’s blend of ginger and lemon not only helps detoxify the body, it quells nausea, while the combo of grapes and cucumbers in the Energizer provide hydration and increase energy. Wheatgrass shots, to order as is or incorporate into another beverage, rebuild red blood cells and cleanse the liver.
Another nutrition-focused beverage is here from Smoothie King. The Metabolism Boost Banana Passion Fruit smoothie is a blend of bananas, pear-passion fruit juice, papaya juice and protein, with other clean ingredients that add fiber and enhance metabolism. The new banana passion fruit smoothie joins two other Metabolism Boost options—strawberry pineapple and mango ginger. Each 20-ounce serving contains 240-280 calories, 14 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.