When it comes to fast-food places, it’s a pretty big deal when a restaurant makes changes, because it seems that year after year consumers are stuck with the same old menu items, décor and level of food quality -- and the only thing that ever changes is the price.
So when restaurants finally get around to actually making a change, many consumers get a little excited and head to the nearest fast-food joint to see how good or bad the new menu item really is, and this year there are a few new items that a lot of folks will be eager to check out.
Take Pizza Hut, for example, that just announced its new “Pizza Sliders” right after the Super Bowl.
The rounded miniature slices appear to be about bagel size and purchasing a box gives all who are sharing the pizza the chance to have their pie personalized.
So instead of ordering a large pizza and having different toppings on either side to appease more than one person, each person can order their own and get the exact toppings they want.
Consumers can either choose from a $10 box containing nine sliders or from a box of 3 that costs $5.
Smaller and healthier
It seems like the pizza chain is responding to the new trend of making foods smaller with fewer calories, which is a complete turnaround from the traditional fast-food approach of giving customers a lot of food for a few bucks.
With many people trying to eat healthier but still unwilling to give up fast-food completely, many chains have decreased the size of some of their menu items and are choosing to offer lower calorie options.
Panera Bread is one of these places, as the sandwich chain announced its new “Hidden Menu,” which it tested in one of its New York locations towards the end of last year.
The hidden menu items, which won’t be on the overhead menu board, consists of healthier food choices like the Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey, the Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak, the Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad, the Power Mediterranean Roasted Turkey, the Power Chicken Hummas Bowl and the Power Steak Lettuce Wraps.
The company says customers will need to notify a restaurant associate if they’re interested in ordering from the Hidden Menu, and even though Panera is considered healthier than say McDonald’s or Wendy’s, it seems the chain wants to offer even healthier items that don't include bread.
Another franchise offering a new menu item is Burger King, which seems to always be just a little bit behind McDonald’s when it comes to generating consumer excitement about its new foods, and with its new chicken nuggets being released, Burger King hopes that people who love McDonald's McNuggets will give Burger King's a try.
This isn’t the first time the Florida based chain attempted to rival McDonald’s chicken McNuggets, as Burger King ‘s first version of the miniature chicken bites were closer to chicken strips, and were called chicken tenders.
However, Burger King is now offering nuggets that closely resemble McDonald’s, so instead of the company trying to offer different menu items from Mickey D’s, its trying to beat the golden arches at their own game.
“As we move into 2013, we are focused on continuing to deliver best-in-class products to our guests,” said Flavia Faugeres, global chief marketing officer for Burger King. “Our new limited-time menu options give even more delicious reasons to visit Burger King restaurants in the New Year.”
But will Burger King’s nuggets be enough to get dissatisfied customers back in to its restaurants? A good portion of our readers have been pretty displeased with the chain, after all.
“I had ordered a Double Whopper and asked that it be made as it appears on the picture on the menu board,” wrote Kelly of Washington State in a ConsumerAffair posting. “I noticed on my receipt that I was charged an extra charge for lettuce, onion and tomato of $.50.”
“To me, this is clearly misrepresentation of what you claim your product is for the price you charge.”
“I think that the combination of the hot box burger patties which are all but cold and the less than acceptable garnishments, I am just about to the point of not going back again.”
Taco Bell is also offering a new menu item, but strangely the menu item won’t be in restaurants, it will be offered in other places like in 7-Elevens, delis and corner stores.
The snack food company Frito Lay will soon roll out its Taco Bell flavored Doritos, which the company hopes will catch on like Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos, which was released almost a year ago.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Taco Bell has sold over 300 million of its Doritos Locos Tacos since its release, and Frito Lay which typically doesn’t release snack foods with fast-food chains on its packaging, hopes consumers will flock to the nacho flavored tortilla chips in the same way they flocked to the tacos.
Now whether these new food items will catch on remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that curious consumers will be heading to some of these chains to see what all of the hub-bub is about.
Whether they'll like the new menu items is another story entirely. I guess we'll see.