Every year going into fall, food chains unleash a fury of new twists and menu items they hope can tantalize diners enough to spend some bucks on their curiosity until the next wave of menu changes.
This time around, chains are rolling out school lunchroom-inspired items, street food from Mexico, and tang – lots of tang!
What’s next at Chick-fil-A? Is it the…
Habanero Chicken Tongue Twister Sandwich?
Honey Pepper Pimento Chicken Sandwich?
ZZ Top Chicken Ranch a La Grange Sandwich?
Free Range Bourbon Chicken Sandwich?
Well, it’s “2,” y’all – the Honey Pepper Pimento Chicken Sandwich. Chick-fil-A is gearing up for a nationwide launch of its new sandwich on August 28.
This is a big deal for the company, too. It’s the very first time it’s put a twist on its flagship offering and it likely spent a lot of time and money making sure it doesn’t come off looking foolish. The sandwich is the same basic filet, but on top, it’s adorned with mildly pickled jalapeños, a creamy pimento cheese sauce, and with a hint of honey.
Nation's Restaurant News says that the chicken sandwich chain has another menu twist, too: a Caramel Crumble Milkshake for the butterscotch lovers in the family.
Bob Evans isn’t change-crazy, either, but it thinks it can strike a chord with the meat-and-potatoes crowd with its “Rancher” line-up of BBQ Beef items.
There are three versions – a straight-ahead dinner with barbecued beef over fried baby potatoes, cheddar cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing, topped with sweet and smoky barbecue sauce and onion rings; Rancher BBQ Mac & Cheese; and Rancher BBQ Burger. All start at $12.59
Movies and McDonald’s have walked down the aisle before, but this time the chain is doing more than just putting a toy inside of a Happy Meal. The “As Featured In Meal” is a collection of customer-favorite items that have made iconic appearances in Reality Bites, Seinfield’s “The Boyfriend” episode, Blankman, Richie Rich, Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America,” and others.
The meal gives diners a choice between a Quarter Pounder with cheese, a 10-piece serving of Chicken McNuggets, or a Big Mac. Nothing fancy there, but the chain is combo’ing those up with fries, a medium-size drink, and – the only really new twist – a new sweet 'n sour sauce that the company hopes to make a brand staple just like its burgers and fries.
Yum! Brands Mexican food flagship Taco Bell says, “¡Bienvenidos a nuestro menú, nuestros amigos del Lejano Oriente!” – Welcome to our menu, our friends from the Far East, with the addition of chile crisp, a condiment that originated in China.
Chili crisp has quickly become a fave in foodie circles as an add-on for noodles, tacos, and eggs. The oil-based condiment comes in several different versions employing add-ins like peppercorns, shallots, and fried garlic. Some versions are hotter-than-heck, but Taco Bell’s is more than likely just plain ‘ol tangy with a hint of sweetness.
Similarly intriguing is Chick-fil-A's latest take on its iconic sandwich. It's incorporated the Southern specialty of pimento cheese into its offering. This innovation is also part of the current Weekly Taco Feature at Velvet Taco.
And, yes, pumpkin everything
One thing you can bet the house on is that no matter where you go, you’re going to find something that has pumpkin spice in it, so be ready.
Dunkin' and IHOP are sure shots. And if 2023 is anything like previous pumpkin seasons, you can expect more of the same from Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Donato’s, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, 7-Eleven and Cheesecake Factory.
Oh, and there’s “maple” flavored items, too, since it’s fall. So far, only Dunkin’ has claimed that space with Maple Sugar Snacking Bacon and a Maple Sugar Bacon Breakfast Sandwich, but if the idea takes off, you can expect maple to show up in other places.