What comes after pumpkin spice? All the other fall flavors

Taste Tracker: A Pop Tart cookie for Crumbl; Hardee’s heats up chicken; Just Salad and Mendocino Farms harvest fall; it’s apple time for Krispy Kreme; and we’re not done with pumpkin quite yet.
Photos courtesy of the brands

The pumpkin spice flood is ebbing, but the ubiquitous fall flavor is still trickling on to menus. Nonetheless, chains are beginning to turn to other seasonal favorites.

Starting on the sweet side, Crumbl Cookies added a Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookie topped with crumbled Pop Tarts to its weekly rotation. The cookie chain teamed up with Kellogg’s to create the new treat, which features a brown sugar base with cinnamon-infused glaze. And Krispy Kreme brought back Apple Fritters for fall. The limited-time item is filled with real apple chunks and flavored with cinnamon, then glazed.

It's fine to eat dessert first and then move on to healthier fare. Just Salad has a new Farmer’s Basket bowl featuring regenerative organic quinoa, shredded kale, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, pickled onions and a jammy egg. Other fall salads include Buffalo Cauliflower, Autumn Caesar and Cilantro Lime Chicken, and the seasonal soup is Spiced Pumpkin Bisque.

If a healthy sandwich is the choice, Mendocino Farms is offering the Happy Hippie—a throwback to crunchy granola days. The vegetarian option is layered with avocado, cucumber, Kumato tomatoes, beet caviar, sprouts, hummus, white cheddar and cucumber dill ranch on toasted seeded honey whole wheat bread. Also joining the lineup at the fast causal is a Mediterranean Crunch Salad, Dan Dan Noodle Salad and Pickles & Dill Potato Salad.

Starbird Chicken is introducing chicken nuggets to the menu. The all white-meat jumbo nuggets are coated with a signature blend of gluten-free flour, fried crisp and can be paired with a choice of nine house-made dipping sauces. At Hardee’s, chicken takes on a Nashville hot flavor profile in the new Nashville Hot Hand-Breaded Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Tenders and Chicken Biscuit.  

There’s been a lot of activity in the breakfast category this week. Huckleberry’s, a regional breakfast-lunch chain with a Cajun-influenced menu, is expanding its footprint in California and Nevada. Menu highlights include Mardi Gras Beignets, a Dixieland Steak Melt sandwich and Cajun Benedict with andouille sausage.

Black Bear Diner expanded its breakfast selection with Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, Cinnamon Roll French Toast, a Cranberry Mimosa and Cinnamon Vanilla Cold Brew and Hot Chocolate. On the savory front, there’s Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Butter, more of a lunch or dinner side. And Huddle House is jumping on the hot honey trend with a Hot Honey Fried Chicken Biscuit and Hot Honey Chicken & Waffle. The flavor profile extends to lunch, with a Sweet Heat Fried chicken Sandwich on a toasted brioche bun and a Southern Fried Chicken Coleslaw Sandwich, both drizzled with Huddle House hot honey sauce.

Halloween is more than a month away, but McAlister’s Deli is serving up seasonal thirst-quencher Witch’s Brew, starting Oct. 1. The spooky lime green drink is a blend of old-fashioned lemonade and caramel apple syrup.

Menus get a fall refresh

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