The warm-weather foods and flavors that define summer offer lots of inspiration for menu developers, as evidenced by the creative limited-time offers and specials launching this season. From refreshing drinks to colorful produce and fresh seafood, summer’s ingredients entice guests, too.
Click ahead to see the 10 most craveable LTOs at chains from May through June, 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 craveable based on the item’s name and description. Results are rounded to the nearest whole number.)
10. The Mighty Angus Burger
Cooking burgers on the barbecue grill is a summertime ritual in homes across America, creating cravings that carry over into restaurant occasions. McDonald’s taps into those cravings with its Mighty Angus Burger, described as a seasoned third-pound Angus patty topped with a signature smoky sauce, hickory-smoked bacon pieces, leaf lettuce, tomato, American cheese and grilled onions. The build evokes the flavors of outdoor grilling, a combination that 72% of potential purchasers found craveable.
9. Cosmic Strawberry Coolatta
Dunkin’s menu description of this icy drink is short and sweet: Strawberry-flavored Coolatta with blue raspberry. But that was enough for 72% of potential purchasers to single it out as craveable. The Coolatta, a slushy frozen drink that’s a Dunkin’ signature, comes in several flavor variations, and strawberry is especially craveworthy in summer.
8. Roasted Garlic Butter-Topped Ribeye
The description of this item from Outback Steakhouse no doubt induced cravings in consumers. The wording includes lots of mouthwatering details: bone-in and extra marbled for maximum tenderness, seasoned and wood fire-grilled over oak, topped with roasted garlic butter and served with a signature potato and one freshly made side. Over 72% of potential purchasers rated this ribeye steak as craveable from its name and description.
7. Crispy Avocado Rolls
Appealing adjectives and complementary flavors are tempting, as these Crispy Avocado Rolls from P.F. Chang’s demonstrate. They are described on the menu as hand-rolled spring rolls with creamy avocado, edamame and water chestnuts, served with a sweet orange honey dipping sauce. Of those potential purchasers in the Technomic survey, 73% craved this Asian-influenced appetizer. The avocado, edamame and water chestnuts give the traditional spring roll a lighter, healthier composition.
6. Peach Boba Breeze
This LTO from P.F. Chang’s screams summer, with both “peach” and “breeze” in its name. The iced black tea beverage also contains on-trend boba, those chewy pearls of tapioca that can be slurped through oversized straws. Almost 73% of potential purchasers gave the Peach Boba Breeze high marks for craveability.
5. Peanut Butter Banana Supreme Pie
Indulgent desserts frequently score high for craveability, even when they’re not especially tied into the seasons. This peanut butter pie from Village Inn is no exception. It’s described as having a flaky pastry crust layered with a blend of sweet, chunky peanut butter and cookie pieces, banana Bavarian cream and fresh sliced bananas, then finished with a topping of real whipped cream, caramel drizzle, peanuts and banana chips. That description convinced more than 73% of potential purchasers to call the dessert craveable.
4. Sam Adams Beer Cheese Fries
The more relaxed days of summer may drive consumers to be more relaxed about health when making food choices. Perhaps that’s why these loaded fries at Buffalo Wings & Rings were deemed craveworthy by over 73% of potential purchasers. They are described as natural-cut fries topped with Sam Adams beer cheese, bacon and scallions. Familiar brand names in menu titles can draw in guests as well.
3. Dragon Fire Wings
Hot and spicy flavors continue to drive menu development no matter the time of year. Buffalo Wild Wings’ Dragon Fire Wings may hook heat seekers even before they read the description. But the details add fuel to the fire, as the wings are described as a mix of chili and ghost peppers with soy and ginger sauce, finished with a jalapeno garnish to pump up the heat level. The LTO was deemed craveable by over 73% of potential purchasers.
2. Lump Crab Cake Sandwich
With consumers in vacation mode, beachside items such as lobster rolls, crab cake sandwiches and other casual seafood preps gain fans in summer. Close to 74% of potential purchasers rated this lump crab cake sandwich from Seasons 52 as craveable. The simple but direct description shows the regional roots of the sandwich: Maryland-style, lettuce, tomato, brioche bun, mustard sauce.
1. Roasted Pineapple Salad
While simple menu descriptions can be inviting, MOD Pizza’s Roasted Pineapple Salad lures in customers by being very comprehensive. It’s a mix of romaine, cilantro, Canadian bacon, red onion, roasted red peppers, roasted pineapple, feta and “Sri-rancha” dressing. A cooking technique may also raise the craveability score of an item, as it may have done here. Roasting caramelizes the pineapple and intensifies its flavor. That, coupled with the pleasing balance of sweet, salty, spicy and herbal flavors in the salad, motivated 74% of potential purchasers to rank the Roasted Pineapple Salad as craveable, landing it in the top spot.