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Menu Tracker: New items from McDonald’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Taco Bell

Plus innovation at Another Broken Egg Cafe, Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Baskin-Robbins, Black Rock Coffee Bar, Bojangles, Burgerville, Charleys Cheesesteaks, Chopt Creative Salad Co., Cinnaholic, Condado Tacos, Dave’s Hot Chicken, Fazoli’s, First Watch, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Gong Cha, Hat Creek Burger Company, I Heart Mac & Cheese, IHOP, Krispy Kreme, Newk’s Eatery, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Panera Bread, Peter Piper Pizza, PizzaForno, PJ’s Coffee, Red Lobster, Round Table Pizza, Shake Shack, Shipley Do-Nuts, Starbird, Sweetgreen, Tacodeli, Tim Hortons, Velvet Taco, Voodoo Doughnut, and Zaxby’s

Mardi Gras is one day in much of the world: Fat Tuesday, February 13 this year, is the day before Lent when many Christians are supposed get all of their excess out of their system to start 40 days of abstinence. 

But New Orleans has a lot of excess, so they actually start Mardi Gras season on January 6, also known as Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas (from the song), and Three Kings Day, or simply King’s Day in the Big Easy, where festivities include the consumption of King Cake. This year that has inspired a number of King Cake-themed drinks from chains based in the South.: Smalls Sliders and Smoothie King did that last week, and this week PJ’s Coffee is doing it.

In bigger chain news, McDonald’s is bringing back the Double Big Mac that it first introduced right before the pandemic started in March of 2020, IHOP is adding non-pancake options to its Rooty Tooty Fresh ’N Fruity breakfast, Taco Bell has a new flatbread option, Sonic Drive-In is putting peanut butter on its burgers, Panera Bread has new sourdough sandwiches, and Red Lobster has yet another shrimp option.

I Heart Mac & Cheese has flatbread now, too.

Also, Applebee’s is adding its first mezcal cocktails, using the product of “Breaking Bad” duo Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, and mixing it with the tequila of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Zaxby’s is bringing back its Asian salad, Shake Shack is working with Korean flavors again, Fazoli’s has stuffed shells, and Bojangles serves rice bowls now.

Both Tim Hortons and Newk’s Eatery are bringing back old items to celebrate milestone anniversaries, Krispy Kreme is teaming with Biscoff again, and Dave’s Hot Chicken has introduced fried cauliflower.

Another Broken Egg Café has launched non-alcoholic cocktails, Chopt has non-alcoholic beer, and Black Rock Coffee Bar has frozen energy drinks.

Burgerville has added doughnut holes as a permanent addition, First Watch has them as a limited-time offer, Peter Piper Pizza sells desserts from Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, and Shipley Do-Nuts has doughnuts with freeze-dried Skittles on top.

Vending machine concept PizzaForno has a new breakfast pizza.

Charleys Cheesesteaks has bourbon barbecue sauce, Starbird has bánh mì, Sweetgreen has a new salmon option, Tacodeli is braising ribs in horchata, and Gong Cha has strawberry jam and almond jelly.

Condado Tacos has some new fitness-oriented bowls, Round Table Pizza has a new New York-style crust, and Hat Creek Burger Company has a strawberry salad.

There are new sweet treats from Baskin-Robbins, Cinnaholic, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and Voodoo Doughnut, all of which specialize in such things, Freddy’s has new chicken clubs, and Velvet Taco’s Weekly Taco Feature has sweet potato.


Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Correction: January 31, 2024
An error in the date of Mardi Gras has been corrected.
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