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Drive-thrus continue to launch LTOs

While full-service and fast-casual concepts focus on takeout and delivery meals, drive-thrus are trying to lure customers with new items.
Sweet n Tangy Slider
Photo courtesy of Sonic

With shelter-at home mandates still in place and dining rooms closed, customers are not getting near a restaurant these days unless they’re picking up a curbside order. But there are no restrictions against motoring up to a drive-thru, ordering from the car window and taking off with a meal or treat to go. Chains with drive-thru locations are taking advantage of this opportunity to tempt consumers with limited-time offers and new menu launches.

Sonic Drive-In, a chain that’s built on this model, launched a couple of new food and drink items. The Sweet ‘n Tangy Bacon Slinger ($2.99) includes a beef patty topped with sweet and tangy honey mustard, crisp bacon, smokehouse cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce on a brioche bun. Returning to the menu are Sonic’s Red Bull Slushes in both the original and a new flavor: Red Bull Summer Edition Watermelon Slush ($3.99). And to appeal to families, the drive-thru is offering Wacky Pack Kids Meals for $1.99

As the weather warms up, ice cream and frozen treats are trending up. Wendy’s brought back its Frosty Cookie Sundae for a limited time. The LTO features a Vanilla or Chocolate Frosty with chocolate sauce and chocolate chunk cookie pieces for $1.99.

Wendy's Frosty

Dairy Queen debuted a pair of LTOs: the Lemonade Twisty Misty Slush and the Sprinkles Sundae. The icy beverage swirls together lemonade, lemon-lime and blue raspberry flavors and goes for $2.19 to $2.79, depending on size, while the sundae consists of vanilla soft serve topped with rainbow sprinkles. DQ also announced its summer lineup of Blizzards. Six will be offered throughout the season, with four new Blizzard varieties making their appearance in 2020: Oreo Cheesecake, Frosted Animal Cookie, Wonder Woman Cookie Collision and Raspberry Fudge Bliss.

Dairy Queen

Targeting that same ice cream craver, Carvel brought back its Sea Salt Caramel flavor in several formats. It’s featured in regular soft serve and a thick shake, as well as scooped (caramel, sea salt and chocolate-covered pretzels) and in a Sea Salt Caramel Sundae Dasher (layers of the soft-serve, caramel, chocolate-covered pretzels and whipped cream).

Steak ‘n Shake is going sweet and savory with its latest items. The new Cotton Candy Milkshake is a blend of ice cream with cotton candy syrup, topped with whipped cream and a cherry, while the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Milkshake returns to the menu. On the food side, the chain introduced the Pork Belly Steakburger, a combo of a double steakburger topped with thick-cut pork belly, caramelized onions, American cheese and maple-bourbon sauce on a toasted bun.

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