QSRs step up menu rollouts in October

Nov. 1, 2013 | by Alicia Kelso

Because many chains unveil their seasonal pumpkin offerings in September, new menu rollout news is typically quiet in October. According to Technomic, October averages about 6 percent of LTO promotions; slower than every month except for December, September and February.

In comparison, November is the busiest, with 13 percent of launches on the year.

But this year seemed different. There was no shortage of new news in the QSR space, from Arby's smoking up a brisket for 13 hours to kick off the month, to Baskin-Robbins adding a twist to the classic Whoopie Pie dessert.

Here is a highlight of some product introductions in October:

Although it technically launched in late September, Arby’s new Smokehouse Brisket features sliced beef brisket smoked for at least 13 hours, an effort the chain leveraged in marketing messaging.

Also at the end of September, Church's Chicken rolled out the new Big Tex Tender Sandwich, with two Tender Strips served on two buttered slices of Texas Toast and topped with lettuce, pickles and mayonnaise.

Wendy's is springboarding off of its Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger success with the addition of a Pretzel Pub Chicken sandwich option.

Subway's Tuscan Chicken Melt sandwich returned in the beginning of the month, and is also available as a chopped salad.

Cold Stone Creamery added S'mores creations for a limited time only, made with marshmallow ice cream, fudge, pieces of graham cracker pie crust and chocolate shavings.

Due to popular demand, Whataburger restaurants brought back the A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger. The brand’s Green Chile Double Burger has also returned to the menu in select markets.

Baskin-Robbins launched its version of the Whoopie Pie, featuring a combination of chocolate cake with a guest's choice of ice cream flavor sandwiched in between.

Dunkin' Donuts added a new Angus Steak & Cheese Wrap, featuring Angus steak wrapped in an 8-inch tortilla and served with white cheddar cheese and the choice of either barbecue or ranch sauce.

Dulce de Lech is Rita's Italian Ice’s newest Cream Ice flavor. The caramel treat is now available for a limited time.

Sonic Drive-In had an especially busy October, introducing its new "Super Crunch" chicken strips, available in 3-piece and 5-piece options. Sonic's Cheesecake Bites are also back. And the chain debuted a new lineup of spicy menu items toward the end of the month, including the classic Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Island Fire Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Island Fire SuperSONIC Cheeseburger and Southwest Chipotle Breakfast Burrito.

‘Tis the season for the return of Krispy Kreme’s Hallowen-themed lineup, including the Jack-o-Lantern, Spider Web and Halloween-sprinkled doughnuts. Also in mid-October, Krispy Kreme announced that its packaged ground coffee is now available at select Sam' s Club locations throughout the Southeast.

Roy Rogers restaurants brought back the Steak N Cheese sandwich and pumpkin shake. The company said the Steak N Cheese offering is its best performing seasonal offering and is the brand's take on the Philadelphia Cheesesteak.

Carl's Jr. and Hardee's brands introduced a new maple sausage, egg and cheese biscuit for a limited time.

Jersey Mike's Subs’ rosemary parmesan bread is available through Nov. 27 at participating locations nationwide.

El Pollo Loco unveiled four new LTO variations of its signature entree, The Pollo Bowl: Chicken Mexican Cobb, Chicken Ranchero, Chicken Mole and Ultimate Double Chicken.

Jack in the Box is now offering a trio of seasonal beverages featuring pumpkin spice flavor. This marks the first time the brand has added to its hot and iced coffee lineup. Also, the BLT Cheeseburger is back and the Monster Taco was added as a permanent item on the menu.

Carvel created a new witch cake for the Halloween season. It joins returning treats on the menu that were created specifically for the holiday season.

The J.M. Smucker Company, makers of Dunkin' Donuts packaged coffee, introduced Dunkin' Donuts Bakery Series Coffees to grocery stores throughout the country, featuring Blueberry Muffin, Caramel Coffee Cake, Chocolate Glazed Donut, Jelly Donut and Old Fashioned Donut flavors.

Cheba Hut "Toasted" Subs added six new items to the menu, including sandwiches, salads and "Munchies" (appetizers).

Ben & Jerry's has added "Scotchy Scotch Scotch" to its lineup for a limited time, in celebration of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," due in theaters Dec. 20.

Tim Hortons is testing a new blend of dark roast coffee in two markets — London, Ontario, and Columbus, Ohio — for the first time in its 49-year history.

Culver's introduced the Pepper Grinder Pub Burger for a limited time only. The launch comes on the heels of Culver's Colby Jack Pub Burger, the chain's most successful LTO burger in its history.

And, as part of Popeyes’ fifth annual Crawfish Festival, the brand is now offering the Crawfish Tackle Box -  hand-battered and breaded crawfish, regular fries, biscuit and Creamy Horseradish Dipping Sauce.

Check out some photos of October rollouts here.

Read more about food and beverage introductions

Topics: Food & Beverage , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Research & Development / Innovation

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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