Spring is the season of renewal, and operators are jumping on the opportunity to launch new limited-time offers. While coffee drinks, cheeseburgers and breakfast sandwiches may spur purchase among consumers, LTOs with more unique ingredients and on-trend flavors have the ability to create buzz and differentiate the menu, says Lauren Hallow, consumer insights manager for Technomic.
Click ahead to see the 10 most unique limited-time offers at chains from March through April, as indicated by potential purchasers in Technomic’s Ignite menu concept development survey. (The canvass of 500 consumers for 100 or more LTOs shows which are most unique based on the item’s name and description. Results are rounded to the nearest whole number.)
10. Mint Brownie Donut
Respondents found Dunkin’s hybrid of two favorite treats to be a differentiator, with 72% of potential purchasers ranking it as unique. The description plays up the LTO’s indulgence: A decadent combination of mint and chocolate brownie, with a square-shaped donut with mint brownie batter filling, light green-colored icing and crumbled brownie topping. It hits all the right buttons for those with a sweet tooth.
9. PB and J Burger
For peanut butter and jelly fans, the reference to PB and J in the name of this burger probably caught their attention; 73% of potential purchasers scored it as unique. The LTO is further described as a 100% certified Angus beef burger topped with creamy peanut butter, grape jelly, candied bacon and yellow cheddar cheese on a butter toasted sesame roll. The item, launched by P.J. Whelihan’s, not only incorporates childhood favorites, but it also offers a contrast of sweet-savory-salty flavors and different textures.
8. Steak Rattlesnake Fries Burrito
There’s no rattlesnake in this burrito from Taco Bell, but its description suggests rugged fare with fiery flavors. The LTO pairs boldly seasoned fries and warm nacho cheese sauce (piggybacking on Taco Bell’s popular Nacho Fries), combined with juicy marinated steak, spicy creamy jalapeno sauce and sliced jalapenos rolled up into a soft tortilla. This mashup was ranked as unique by 74% of potential purchasers.
7. Tzatziki Pizza
Here’s another mashup that resonated with consumers: 74% of potential purchasers found it unique. The Middle Eastern-accented pizza features tzatziki sauce, carved gyro meat, roasted grape tomatoes and banana peppers with two cheeses: Italian provolone and Greek feta. Ledo Pizza, a chain with over 100 locations, specializes in customizable square-shaped pizzas.
6. Honey Lavender Gelato
An intriguing blend of honey and lavender attracted 74% of potential purchasers to Il Fornaio’s gelato. The description adds to the appeal by connecting the Italian ice cream dessert to the season: Sweet honey and fragrant lavender come together to create an invigorating harmony of spring flavors. Consumers are tempted by seasonal LTOs, according to Technomic.
5. Shipwreck Burger
This LTO gives diners a taste of the tropics—something winter-weary consumers would find alluring in early April. Hurricane Grill & Wings also went all out to build a hearty burger, judging from its description: a half-pound signature burger with a heaping of fire-braised pork, grilled pineapple, fried jumbo onion rings, tomato, crisp lettuce, pickles and Sriracha mayo, all served with natural-cut fries. The layering of flavors and abundance of toppings ranked high in uniqueness with 74% of potential purchasers.
4. Crispy Quinoa Cake
Quinoa has been a popular base in salads and warm bowls, but this application gives the grain a different shape and texture. Seventy-five percent of potential purchasers found the item unique. During its limited-time run, Le Pain Quotidien served the crispy quinoa cake with creamy beetroot hummus, tender arugula and chickpea salad. The description gives the item a healthy spin and suggests textural contrast.
3. Beetroot and Hummus Tartine
Beetroot hummus also made its appearance at Le Pain Quotidien in a plant-based tartine, the French term for an open-face sandwich. The description, which boasts in detail about the LTO’s health benefits, also touts the eating experience. Here’s how it reads: “Our newest vegan tartine is deeply satisfying thanks to silky beetroot hummus, antioxidant-rich (and detoxifying!) beets, fresh tomato-salsa and hearty chickpea salad. Finished with a squeeze of tangy lemon.” This spurred 76% of potential purchasers to call out the tartine as unique.
2. Oreo Oh My Goodness Pancakes
Healthy options were not the only thing on consumers’ minds in April. This LTO from IHOP features four buttermilk pancakes filled with Oreo cookie pieces, drizzled with cupcake icing and Oreo cookie pieces and crowned with whipped topping. It’s a description that 78% of potential purchasers considered unique in response to the Technomic survey.
1. Health Nut Smoothie with CBD Oil 4
Operators are beginning to experiment with CBD oil as an ingredient in menu items, and consumers are interested. CBD—the component in cannabis that doesn’t get the user high—even appears in the name of this smoothie from fast-casual Protein Bar & Kitchen, a Chicago-based chain. The LTO boasts better-for-you ingredients in its description, including kale, spinach, green apple, banana, organic peanut butter, agave nectar and almond milk, in addition to CBD. According to Technomic’s Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, consumers see CBD as a stress-reliever—an attribute linked to health—and 72% would visit a restaurant that incorporates the cannabis-derivative in their food.