Consumer preferences turned to beef and berries in July. Strawberry desserts, burgers and steak dominated the list of top limited-time offers on chain menus last month, with a chocolate cake and chicken items rounding out the lineup.
Click ahead to see the 10 most appealing LTOs at chains from June through July, as indicated by Technomic’s MenuSurf survey. (The canvass of 500 consumers for 100 or more 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. Fresh Strawberry Belgian Waffle Combo
Strawberries are in abundant supply in June and July, and Coco’s Bakery Restaurant took advantage of the bounty by featuring the fruit in a breakfast special. Described as a golden Belgian waffle topped with fresh, glazed strawberries and fresh whipped cream, this indulgent entree is served with two eggs and a choice of applewood-smoked bacon, country sausage links or a turkey sausage patty. This description convinced 60% of consumers to say they would order the dish.
9. Double Bacon Double Cheddar Prime Burger
Burgers continue to be a summertime favorite, and this item, with its generous half-pound portion of meat and double amounts of bacon and cheddar, followed suit. The ample ingredients, along with the quality promise of the word “prime,” appealed to 60% of survey respondents. Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom promoted the burger in its Summer Camp Menu, billed as a collection of food and cocktails perfect for summer. The hearty burger sounds like it would be especially tempting to men, and males did slightly edge out females in purchase intent—63% to 58%.
8. Chicken Caesar Salad
Caesar salads topped with chicken are ubiquitous on menus, but this one from Farmer Boys enticed more than 60% of consumers with its attention to ingredient details and technique. The salad’s description describes a dish “loaded with flame-grilled chicken, real hand-sliced avocado, hickory smoked bacon, aged shaved Parmesan and croutons on hand-chopped lettuce.” The messaging emphasizes quality and craftsmanship—two characteristics that are important to today’s diners of all ages, according to Technomic’s Generational Consumer Trend Report.
7. Cowboy BBQ Burger
IHOP briefly changed its name to IHOb in June, a marketing move designed to promote the launch of its better-burger menu. The Cowboy BBQ Burger was part of that launch, and its addition to the lineup tempted almost 61% of consumers to say they would order this burger at the pancake house. Its description focuses on the toppings rather than the patty, talking up “two crispy onion rings, our custom-cured hickory-smoked bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and tangy BBQ sauce.” Millennials were most likely to order the burger, with 66% indicating purchase intent; only 54% of Gen Zers were keen on ordering it.
6. Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake
Old Chicago’s dessert LTO scored high marks with consumers in July, proving that chocolate cake is a perennial favorite. The dessert features four indulgent layers of decadent chocolate cake and rich fudge frosting, leading 62% of consumers to say they would purchase it. The chocolate fudge cake also scored high in craveability, with more than 77% of potential purchasers finding it craveworthy. Craveability often translates into increased sales, according to Technomic.
5. Fresh Oregon Strawberry Shortcake
Seasonal and local—two buzzy terms—are played up in the name of Burgerville’s Fresh Oregon Strawberry Shortcake. The LTO’s description, mentioning “real whipped cream” and “freshly cut Oregon strawberries,” further expands on these themes. Of those consumers surveyed, 63% said they would purchase this dessert, while 68% of those respondents would visit Burgerville specifically to try this LTO.
4. Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich
While this limited-time offer doesn’t sound very unique, Pollo Tropical differentiates its chicken sandwich with a special condiment: a Peppadew sauce. Peppadew is a sweet-spicy pepper with a unique flavor profile that’s trending on menus, as per Technomic’s MenuMonitor. Using it on a familiar platform—a crispy chicken sandwich—appealed to more than 63% of consumers.
3. Fresh Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Shortcake showed up again in this MenuSurf ranking, this time at casual-dining chain Bonefish Grill. Again, the dessert’s seasonality and freshness cues may have won over consumers, with more than 64% saying they would order it. The item features seasonal strawberries on top of a shortcake biscuit with housemade whipped cream and creme anglaise—a creamy vanilla custard sauce that elevates this strawberry shortcake to fine-dining status. Perhaps it is this extra touch that motivated more than 68% of respondents to call out the dessert as craveable.
2. Strawberry Cup
Au Bon Pain went for simplicity with its strawberry LTO, an item that 67% of consumers said they would purchase. The Strawberry Cup is described with just two words—“fresh strawberries”—giving the item a health halo that may have generated appeal, especially for women. Almost 71% of females said they would buy the item, compared to 64% of males.
1. Steak + Potatoes
Simplicity also seemed to play into the allure of the top-scoring limited-time offer in July. Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s Steak + Potatoes came in at No. 1 in purchase intent among consumers, with more than 70% saying they would buy it. Like chocolate, steak and potatoes is a classic that continues to be a fan favorite. Macaroni Grill upgrades the combo here with trendsetting accompaniments: a side of broccolini and oreganata sauce or rosemary butter.