QSRs finish the year strong with menu rollouts

Dec. 27, 2012 | by Alicia Kelso

Quick-service restaurants were busy introducing limited-time offers throughout November and December. The end of the year tends to be an active time for rollouts; according to Technomic, November has the most new item promotions compared to every other month during the year, making up 13 percent of launches. December slows down a bit, with 5 percent of LTO releases.

This year, many brands brought back seasonally-inspired favorites — such as Krispy Kreme's snowman doughnut and Chick-fil-A's Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake — while others debuted new products, including Taco Bell's Loaded Grillers and Tim Hortons' Tassimo T Discs.

Examples of November and December rollouts include:

Tim Hortons partnered with Kraft Foods' Tassimo brand to launch Tassimo T Discs in time for the holiday season. The single-serve coffee line is now available at nearly 3,000 Tim Hortons restaurants. In the U.S., Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop unveiled a new peppermint mocha latte, candy cane hot chocolate, gingerbread glazed donut, candy cane chocolate donut, ginger molasses and holiday donuts dipped in white, red and green fondant.

Subway launched three new sandwiches as part of its Steak Melts Collection. They include the Chipotle Steak & Cheese; Big Philly Cheesesteak; and Steak & Bacon Melt.

Rita's Italian Ice introduced the York Peppermint milkshake and sundae.

Sonic has released two new premium chicken sandwiches — a limited-time Asiago Caesar Chicken Sandwich and an "improved" Classic Chicken Sandwich. Both are available either grilled or crispy.

Dunkin' Donuts' holiday menu launched in early November, featuring three flavored coffee and lattes, including new White Chocolate, Peppermint Mocha and Gingerbread, as well as new Red Velvet Drizzle Donuts and Red Velvet Munchkins. Dunkin' Donuts is also featuring a new Peppermint Mocha and Hot Cocoa K-Cup packs and has brought back the Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich with Hillshire Farm split-smoked sausage.

Taco Bell introduced a new dessert menu nationwide, with a Churro, Cookie Sandwich and Caramel Apple Empanada. Taco Bell also created three new Loaded Grillers, including the Loaded Potato Griller, Buffalo Chicken Griller and Beefy Nacho Loaded Griller.

Chick-fil-A brought back its Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake.

Wienerschnitzel has added new chili cheese tamales to the menu for a limited time. They are loaded with shredded beef and topped with Wienerschnitzel's signature chili and grated cheese.

McDonald's introduced the McCafé Premium Roast take home coffee line, available for purchase only at participating McDonald's restaurants in Canada. The brand also brought back its fan-favorite McRib in the U.S. in mid-December.

Tasti D-Lite rolled out its new holiday flavors, including salted caramel and peppermint bark and is also offering a peppermint fudge sundae and special peppermint cake.

Baskin-Robbins brought back its Turkey Cake and new Turkey Leg individual novelty for Thanksgiving. It is also offering holiday-themed ice cream cakes designed as a snowman, Santa and elf. Individual cakes are also available.

Dairy Queen is now featuring the Candy Cane Chill Blizzard Treat, as well as Candy Cane Royal Shakes and Waffle Bowl Sundaes.

Green Burritos at co-branded Carl's Jr. restaurants are now featuring new chicken taquitos.

Carl's Jr. and Hardee's teamed up with Otis Spunkmeyer for their new hand-scooped chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. The brands also introduced a new charbroiled jalapeno turkey burger.

Sonic brought back its Chocolate Mint Holiday Shake.

Wendy's announced its new Mozzarella Chicken Supreme Sandwich.

Erbert & Gerbert's sandwich chain launched a new gluten-free menu, which includes three soups and a selection of classic sandwiches made with Udi's gluten-free rolls.

LaMar's Donuts created the Peppermint Iced Devil's Food Cake Donut for the holiday season.

Krispy Kreme launched a new gingerbread cake doughnut, as well as its traditional snowman doughnut, holiday sprinkles doughnut and red velvet cake doughnuts. Krispy Kreme is also featuring new holiday beverages – gingerbread latte and red velvet latte.

KFC is baking up its own chocolate chip cookies now as part of its new Festive Feast eight-piece meal.

In honor of the 55th Anniversary of the Whopper, participating Burger King restaurants are featuring the limited-time Wisconsin White Cheddar Whopper and Angry Whopper.

Jack in the Box brought back its Bonus Jack double-patty cheeseburger, as well as a Bonus Jack Combo Meal. Also making a temporary comeback is the Secret Sauce that contributed to the Bonus Jack's signature taste. And, the chain added Brownie Bites to its dessert menu.

Check out photos of some of the seasonal launches.

Read more about food and beverage promotions.

Topics: Food & Beverage , Marketing / Branding / Promotion

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.
View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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