Chain restaurant menus constantly evolve, with new items being added and slow-sellers being dropped, limited-time specials being alternated in and out of availability, and seasonally themed offerings appearing at certain times of the year and then disappearing. (Speaking of that, here are some fast food dishes we’d like to see back on the menu.)
To compile a list of some of new items that have appeared on menus over the past month, in time for the year-end holidays, 24/7 Tempo continued its regular reviews of the Menu Tracker column published by Nation’s Restaurant News, a leading national restaurant trade publication. Put together by Bret Thorn, NRN’s senior food and beverage editor, the column announces new additions to menus at a wide range of restaurant chains around the U.S. — many of them on this list of the most successful restaurant chains in America.
As befits the season, a few of the items have specific holiday themes, like Auntie Anne’s Snowball Nuggets and Baskin Robbins’ Gingerbread House ice cream. Others seem to be aimed simply at heating up a chilly wintertime, including such items as Fried Cheetos Cheese Bites with Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Sauce (Applebee’s), chili cheese tamales (Del Taco), and Jamaican jerk pizza (California Pizza Kitchen).
For other items, a celebrity (Justin Bieber) and a celebrity chef (Rick Bayless) are involved. There are also two noticeable differences from earlier installments: Chicken is usually involved with a number of the new items but shows up only once here. And though more and more chains are introducing plant-based meat substitutes, such items are absent from this roundup. Both, however, will most likely reappear in our future new-menu roundups.