Special Report

New Summer Menu Items at Your Favorite Chain Restaurants

The research and development teams at major restaurant chains (and at some minor ones) are constantly imagining, creating, testing, and refining new menu offerings. Some of these never make it into production. Others get added to the menus in a few markets on a trial basis but never hit the big time, while others get their chance to shine nationwide but then disappear. (These are some fast-food dishes we’d like to see back on the menu.) 

The best of these new offerings end up becoming essential parts of a chain’s repertoire, even developing cult followings (here’s to you, McRib). 

Sometimes new dishes are tied to specific holidays. St. Patrick’s Day tends to see the appearance of artificially colored green foods. Similarly, the alternately dreaded or hotly anticipated “pumpkin spice” flavoring appears like clockwork every fall. Others reflect the season in a broader sense – lighter foods in the spring and summer, richer ones as the weather cools. And some, of course, appear with no apparent logic whatsoever.

To compile a list of new chain restaurant menu items as the summer begins, 24/7 Tempo reviewed several editions of the Menu Tracker column appearing regularly in Nation’s Restaurant News, a leading national restaurant trade publication. Bret Thorn, NRN’s senior food and beverage editor, adds new menu offerings to the column weekly, covering a wide range of chain restaurants, massive and small, around the U.S.

On this month’s list, with summer officially just beginning, summery ingredients like fresh berries, watermelon, and pesto show up. Another popular warm weather ingredient (though not itself seasonal), chicken is well represented as always – this time appearing in 10 of our 35 new items. 

Click here to see new chain restaurant menu items for summer

It’s not all light fare, however. Such diet-busters as Burger King’s Sausage Cheesy Breakfast Melt, Papa Johns’ Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza, and Krispy Kreme’s Cinnamon Milk Glazed Doughnut with cream cheese probably aren’t going to do much for your summertime beach body. Nonetheless, they sound pretty good. 

And, of course, because this is America, there are burgers – four variations (counting sliders) plus a cheeseburger omelet and a “cowboy smothered chopped steak dinner” – just in time for the Fourth of July. (These are the best burgers you can get at a fast food restaurant.)

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