January 4th, 2021

Favorite 2020 New Menu Items – A Review

Posted in Consumer Trends, Restaurants

Cravings for Pizza, Wings, BBQ, and Heat Drove 2020 New Menu Items

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Before we get to the review of our favorite 2020 new menu items, we’d like to wish you a Happy New Year!

Yes, it’s official. 2020 is over and 2021 is here. It’s a warm, wonderful place where hope springs eternal. Glad to see you here with us!

2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the food and beverage industry. From supply chain disruptions to on-premise dining closures, the hits just kept coming. But if there’s one thing our industry is known for, it’s perseverance and adaptability.

Therefore, it’s those characteristics we want to celebrate today. To do so, we’re looking at some of the best new menu items that rolled out in 2020. Not only do these illustrate what 2020 was like, they also offer insight into what 2021 could bring. Will the plant-based revolution continue? Will spicy and smoky flavors continue to penetrate menus nationally? Will everyone just start selling chicken wings!?

I’d guess at least two of those three examples will happen. But, for now, let’s check out the best of 2020 New Menu Items.

2020 Best of New Menu Items

Fazoli’s

2020 New menu items

Photo courtesy of Fazolis.com

Fazoli’s shirked expected losses in 2020 with innovation and boldness. Aside from launching a to-go only wing brand (Wingville), they also launched the wildly popular Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. It featured cavatappi pasta in Asiago sauce topped with chopped bacon, fried chicken pieces tossed in spicy buffalo sauce, and Parmesan peppercorn ranch dressing. Speaking of Wingville, they’ve been knocking it out of the park with unique wing flavors like Hot Honey BBQ and Thai Sweet Chile. Can’t wait to see what they do next!

Uno Pizzeria & Grill

2020 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of NRN.com

The innovators at Uno Pizzeria stayed up late to launch their No Dough Sausage Pie. This low-carb behemoth featured a “crust” of sausage filled with shredded mozzarella cheese and a new, chunkier tomato sauce, finished with Pecorino Romano cheese. If going keto means eating like this, we could get on board.

Oath Pizza

Oath Pizza

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

The talented folks at Oath Pizza decided to take the idea of family-style to-go dinners to a whole new level with their Care Packages. These mail order pizza kit packages feature all the ingredients you need to prepare and cook their delicious pizzas in the comfort of your own home. The Bestseller Care Package includes one Spicy Mother Clucker Pizza featuring roasted chicken and spicy sriracha sauce.

Blaze Pizza

Image courtesy of Blazepizza.com

Image courtesy of Blazepizza.com

Blaze Pizza also hit the make it yourself trend with their DIY Pizza Kits. These featured a dough ball, dusting flour, sauce, and your choice of toppings to the make pizza right at home. These were a great way to bring families together in the kitchen.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

New Menu Items 2020

Photo courtesy of Grimaldis.com

Grimaldi’s landed on the list this year with their Barbeque Chicken Pizza. Topped with sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, roasted chicken, bacon, red onion, and cilantro, it proved to be a winner with customers. I expect to see more BBQ pizzas with toppings other than chicken finding space on menus in 2021.

On the Border

2020 Menu in review

Photo courtesy of FSRmagazine.com

On the Border responded to dining room closures with their own type of family meal: Build-Your-Own Taco Kits. These featured 10 soft or crispy taco shells, choice of seasoned ground beef or chicken tinga, lettuce, tomato, and grated cheese. Plus, a bowl of queso sauce, Mexican rice, refried beans, chips, and salsa to boot. The perfect complement for Taco Tuesdays at home.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Italian Food Trends

Photo courtesy of FSRmagazine.com

Carrabba’s released a bevy of new items, both planned and in response to restaurant closings, in 2020. New rollouts included Carrabba’s Family Bundles meant to serve up to five people, their new house-made Lasagna, and marinara sauce smothered Chicken Parmesan topped with freshly grated Romano cheese.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut Trends

Photo courtesy of blog.pizzahut.com

Never one to be idle, Pizza Hut also found footing in the surge of plant-based requests flooding 2020. Their response was the launch of the Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza featuring tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese topped with meatless Beyond Italian Sausage crumbles, and the Great Beyond Pizza featuring Beyond Italian Sausage, chopped tomatoes, sliced red onions, and banana peppers. Pizza Hut also satisfied customers’ love for heat with the launch of their Nashville Hot chicken wings. Zesty!

So Long 2020, It’s Been Bittersweet

So, let’s celebrate the wins and band together to make 2021 a year even more memorable through menu innovation and flavor experiences. Consumers are looking for bold moves this year, let’s not disappoint!

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July 6th, 2020

June 2020 National Menu Trends

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

National Menus See BBQ and Heat for the Win

June 2020 Menu Trends

June 2020 has seen a massive amount of new menu item rollouts, but there were two stand out trends: BBQ and heat.

Across the board, the sweet and smoky comfort of BBQ along with the rich complexity of spicy new flavors are holding strong in popularity. This makes sense as we’ve seen a large rise in the presence comfort foods and Mexican cuisine on menus since the pandemic has kept consumers home.

So, let’s check out the innovative items that just hit and how you might be able to capitalize on these trends.

June 2020 New Menu Items

Carl’s Jr. & Hardee’s

New Menu Trends June 2020

Photo courtesy of carlsjr.com

The burger masters at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s decided to go for broke with a duo of new burgers. The Spicy Western Bacon Cheeseburger features smoky BBQ sauce, jalapeno peppers, crispy onion rings, and creamy pepper Jack cheese with a pile of savory bacon. Its sister sandwich, the Beyond Spicy BBQ Cheeseburger, is a meatless Beyond Burger patty with jalapeno peppers, crispy onion rings, and pepper Jack cheese slathered in tangy BBQ sauce. You can’t go wrong either way.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moes BBQ Burrito

Photo courtesy of moes.com

Now, you wouldn’t normally think Moe’s when it comes to BBQ, but indeed that’s what they’ve done. They’re now offering a Barbecue (yes, fully spelled out) Burrito and Bowl to satisfy your cravings. Featuring seasoned rice, pinto beans, your choice of protein, savory barbecue sauce, and a tangy Southwest slaw. Hurry to get one soon, they’ll only be available until July 13th.

Roy Rogers

June Menu Trends

Photocourtesy of royrogersrestaurants.com

The culinary team over at Roy Rogers are hitting the spicy trend hard with their new Dynamite Burger. This quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger serves up layers of heat with crispy jalapeno poppers, creamy pepper Jack cheese, and a smoky chipotle ranch on a fluffy Kaiser roll. Think you can handle the heat?

Tropical Smoothie Café

BBQ Trends

Photo courtesy of tropicalsmoothiecafe.com

The folks over at Tropical Smoothie Café want to make sure you know they’re about more than just smoothies. To prove it, they’ve launched a smoky BBQ Pork Quesadilla. Stuffed with barbecue glazed pork, queso blanco, Cheddar, smoked cheese blend, pineapple salsa, and pickled jalapenos, it finds the right balance of sweet, hot, and smoky.

Velvet Taco

Velvet Taco seems to always end up on these lists. It’s no surprise really, they’re known for their bold flavors and experimentation. Which brings us to the new Nashville Chicken and Waffle taco. It features crispy fried chicken tenders tossed in a fiery Nashville hot sauce and amped up with peppered bacon, peppercorn gravy, green apple slaw, maple syrup, and a smoky red chile aioli all stuffed in a crinkly waffle tortilla.

Can You Feel the Heat?

Good! Make sure you’re keeping on trend with bold, smoky, and spicy flavors to keep your guests ordering over and over again. Now, I think I’ll be going to order one of each of these new June 2020 National Menu Trends.

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October 15th, 2018

BBQ Sauce Trends in 2018

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants, Trends

2018 Shows Growth in BBQ Sauce Categories

BBQ is a staple of all cultures, in lots of different ways.

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We’re all familiar with the BBQ styles of the South, like Memphis, Texas, and Kansas City, which are ubiquitous with the American style of barbecue. But now, we’re also seeing regions like Florida and California get noticed for their particular style.

Outside of the U.S., Asia has a long history of cooking using the barbecue method, and the word barbecue itself stems from the Taino term, barbacoa. And let’s not forget about the unique BBQ styles of the Native Americans and the Maori of New Zealand, who bury their food on beds of hot stones, covered with wet tarps and earth. This allows for a low and slow cooking style, complete with plenty of smoke.

Today we’re going to investigate the up and coming flavor trends in BBQ sauces in the U.S. Whether you like to slather on the sauce while cooking, dip after the food is done, or go Korean style with fermented sweet and spicy sauces, we’ve got you covered.

2018 BBQ Sauce Trends

Spicy

homemade-barbecue-sauce-sweet-and-spicy

Photo courtesy of JessicaGavin.com

It’s no surprise, even in the world of BBQ, consumers are looking for sauces that bring the heat. According to Restaurant Business Magazine, year over year growth of jalapeno-based BBQ sauces is averaging a 16.7% increase.

Chipotle BBQ has increased 79% on menus since 4th quarter of 2017 according to Provisioner Online. According to Diane Kelter, Mintel International’s food-service analyst, “Complex flavor combinations that provide a sweet heat combo, or a smoky sweet combo, will continue to drive more innovation in the category.”

Mustard

The secret is out, mustard-based BBQ sauces are really good. Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce, a mustard and vinegar sauce with plenty of brown sugar, has paved the way for broad-based introduction.

KFC rolled out their “Georgia Gold” sauce in 2017 with great reception. This take on Carolina Gold style riffs heavier on the sweet side, using honey over brown sugar, therefore making it more palatable to a larger demographic.

Trader Joe’s and French’s were quick to jump on the trend, creating their own branded mustard-based BBQ sauces. The next step will be seeing spicy variations of mustard sauces, which have started popping up in small restaurants and food parks, but not yet in the mainstream chains.

Korean BBQ

It just wouldn’t be a 2018 trend analysis if we didn’t talk about the Asian influence.

Hot Sauce

If it seems like you’re seeing Asian food everywhere, it’s probably because you are. The deep, rich flavors and complex aromatics of Asian cuisine drive taste buds wild and leave insatiable cravings for more.

In BBQ, gochujang has proliferated quite well. The salty, spicy, umami rich profile of this fermented bean paste is a perfect addition to the sweet/smoky bases of most BBQ sauces. Many restaurants, like Chi’Lantro out of Austin, TX, hide gochujang in their generically named sauces (i.e. Gangnam, Korean BBQ, Spicy Asian), making it more approachable for less exposed palates.

According to the NPD Group, the amount of Korean BBQ sauce shipped to U.S. independent chains and micro chains grew by 120% in 2017. I don’t expect to see that slow down anytime soon. If you don’t believe me, go try some. It’s delicious.

Close

That’s it for this week’s blog. Keep an eye out for new BBQ trends as they emerge share with us what you find.

Cheers!

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March 3rd, 2011

Good Ol’ Texas Barbecue

Posted in Pork, Travel

Finding the best barbecue in Texas is like looking for the best cheese curds in Wisconsin, the best lobster roll in New England, or the best microbrewery in the Northeast.  It’s a he-said, she-said type of debate and what it really boils down to is personal taste.  The one thing nearly all Texas barbecue aficionados can agree on is this: beef is king, and more specifically, brisket.  Recently I was fortunate enough to take a small tour of Texas barbecue joints.  What I found is a wide array of juicy brisket, both lean and fatty, smoky hand-made sausage, tender smoked turkey and sticky-sweet stick-to-your-ribs ribs. Read more »

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