Consumer conflict about what and how to eat in January seems to be driving new menu items. On one hand, there are those with traditional New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, but on the other hand, the long, chilly days call for indulging in comforting treats. And there’s always the desire to wake up winter-weary taste buds with hot and spicy flavors.
This week’s roundup of LTOs and new launches reflects current consumer behavior. There’s something for every craving, from diet-conscious dishes to decadent desserts and spicy sandwiches.
Low-carb and gluten-free dishes can be tough to pull off for Italian-focused concepts, but Fazoli’s three newest items meet the demands of these eating styles. The Low-Carb Pepperoni & Bacon Flatbread features a low-carb dough topped with garlic butter, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni and bacon, while the Keto Combo gives customers the option of pairing the flatbread with a Caesar side salad for 10 grams net carbs. Also joining the lineup is Gluten-Friendly Chicken Pesto Rotini, a gluten-free pasta tossed with creamy Alfredo sauce and roast chicken, baked with mozzarella and topped with pesto.
Also going the low-carb route is burrito chain Freebirds, this time starring cauliflower rice—an ingredient that is gaining fans. Freebirds makes the veggie-based rice with freshly diced cauliflower that’s lightly seasoned with a hint of spice. It’s featured in the new Keto Burrito Bowl topped with steak, salsa, cheese and guac, as well as the Paleo Burrito Bowl, partnered with seasoned chicken, sautéed vegetables, tomatillos and guac. For an extra $1.50, customers can also order cauliflower rice to create burritos, bowls and entrees.
Daphne’s is showcasing healthy Mediterranean ingredients in four new pita sandwiches. The Honey Chicken Pita features grilled chicken, cucumber-tomato salad, lettuce and honey mustard sauce on warm pita and is served with a side of tzatziki sauce, while the Cali Pita is a Mediterranean spin on a California-style burrito built on pita bread instead of a tortilla. It combines hand-carved gyro or grilled chicken, feta and onions with tzatziki sauce. Spicier options include the Zesty Steak Pita, composed of grilled steak, horseradish sauce, lettuce, roasted tomatoes and mozzarella, and the Shawarma Pita, with marinated chicken shawarma, pesto, mozzarella and roasted tomatoes.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Sandwiches with bolder flavors are also on the menu at Dickey’s. The Spicy Chicken Sandwich is layered with slow-smoked marinated chicken, melted Tillamook cheddar, jalapenos and spicy barbecue sauce, while the Spicy Brisket Sandwich features the same components with the alternative of Texas-style brisket instead of chicken. Along with January’s Double Berry Cobbler Dessert, these new LTOs kick off the introduction of 12 months of specialty items created to celebrate Dickey’s 80th birthday.
Frisch’s Big Boy
A nostalgic comfort-food pairing is a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. Frisch’s updates the combo with two new sandwiches and a rich Tomato Bisque Soup. Grippo’s BBQ Chip Grilled Cheese, made with melted American cheese and Grippos potato chips on Texas toast, satisfies the desire for crunch and comfort, while the Four Cheese Grilled Cheese layers a quartet of varieties—Parmesan, provolone, Swiss and American cheese—on Texas toast. Also new on Frisch’s winter menu is a Club Melt with ham or turkey and a Family Fish or Shrimp Meal.
Chocolate lovers can indulge their cravings with Baskin-Robbins’ January Flavor of the Month: Chocolate Trilogy. The ice cream LTO combines the toasted notes of malted chocolate, the buttery, sweet flavor of white chocolate and the milky flavor of Belgian chocolate for a triple chocolate treat. It’s available by the scoop or in a shake.
Just in time for Veganuary, Insomnia Cookies has added a selection of new plant-based sweets to the permanent menu. Developed to appeal to non-vegans as well as vegans, the lineup includes Birthday Cake, Chocolate Chunk and Double Chocolate Chunk cookies—three of Insomnia’s best-loved cookies but in 100% plant-based versions.
A drinkable pink indulgence comes to the menu at Stan’s Donuts. The Chicago-based concept launched Pink Hot Chocolate, created from the same recipe as Stan’s hot white chocolate but with an extra pop of color. For those who prefer their hot chocolate to look chocolate-y, Stan’s also is menuing Hot Chocolate Malt, which has the addition of chocolate malt balls.
Dutch Bros. is waking up customers with three new beverages for the new year. The Cold Brew Kicker is offered with both a soft top or toasted—meaning that guests can request the drink to be “toasted” to warm it up. The Oat Milk Kicker Latte is a blend of creamy oat milk and espresso, while the Sugar-Free Peach Rebel is the latest energy drink flavor added to the menu. All three are featured beverages through the end of February, but will become permanent additions to the menu.
Promoting wellness is the goal of Peet’s lineup of restorative beverages. Both the Golden Tonic and Golden Latte are crafted with ginger and turmeric—two ingredients that provide a health boost. Golden Tonic is a blend of tropical-flavored green tea, turmeric, yuzu and honey, while Golden Latte combines espresso with milk steamed with turmeric, ginger and honey. Rewards members can also purchase turmeric-enhanced Golden Chai Latte; all three drinks are available hot or iced.
In addition, Peet’s added two protein- and veggie-packed frittatas to its winter menu. Both the lighter Egg White, Tomato and Feta frittata and the heartier Bacon, Spinach and Swiss version are made without wheat.