Our Fast Food Channel covers news and menu additions to brands within the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry. Typically Fast Food or QSRs are categorizes by food that is prepared and served very quickly, typically associated with food sold out of a restaurant or storefront using preheated or precooked ingredients.
In the past couple of weeks, the United States has begun administering a record number of vaccinations in the battle against COVID-19. More than 10 million US residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine already, and with that comes free donuts.
Krispy Kreme just announced that guests will receive a free original glazed doughnut by simply bringing in their COVID-19 vaccination card to any participating location in the United States. This is available for anyone who shows their card, each day, through the end of 2021.
It’s that easy.
The brand is also giving its employees paid time off to schedule their own vaccinations.
Even if you belong to that group that doesn’t believe the vaccine will do anything. Isn’t a free dose at least worth some doughnuts?
Further proof that fast food items overseas are far superior than the offerings here stateside, McDonald’s Japan will be serving up this spring an OREO Cheesecake via McCafe by Barista. And as the visuals suggest, this is a cheesecake that’s got a bullseye on OREO lovers’ hearts.
This decadent OREO Cheesecake features a lavish layer of the cookie crumbs in the crust and on top, which crowns a lemon-infused cream cheese filling. Sheesh.
The OREO Cheesecake will be available for a limited time from March 24, though no specific end date has been announced.
As plant-based options continue to increase at restaurants globally, many companies have defaulted to teaming up with big plant-based names to make faux meat products.
The Halal Guys just went the extra mile, however, and created their own plant-based gyro cones that are cooked on a rotating spit, just like regular gyro meat would be.
Their new Meatless Gyro, a limited-time offering, is a gluten-free and plant-based alternative to the standard gyro meat. The Halal Guys version is made with pea protein, brown rice, coconut oil, Halal Guys spice mix, beets, mushrooms, and paprika. A serving of the Meatless Gyro comes with 21 grams of protein.
Of course, when at The Halal Guys, there’s all of the toppings you can add to the rice, lettuce, and protein option. One of those is tzatziki, which normally contains dairy, but The Halal Guys has created a plant-based version of that as well. That iteration uses aquafaba, the leftover liquid from cooking chickpeas, to get to a similar texture on the sauce.
Foodbeasts Elie and Oscar got a chance to try the Meatless Gyro early. To Elie, the plant-based gyro version held up texturally to the original, while Oscar loved that it could be shaved off the cone the same way as regular gyro meat would. It had the same level of flavor since it uses the same Halal Guys spice blend, with Elie noting it was a tad more “earthy.”
As for the plant-based tzatziki, it was a little thinner than the original due to the aquafaba, but it paired really well with the vegan gyro meat. For the overall meal, both Elie and Oscar noted that they felt really good and not bloated after eating it.
“I’m definitely gonna be getting this meatless gyro into my rotation,” Elie noted afterwards.
Also joining The Halal Guys menus is a refreshing eggplant hummus, which combines eggplants and chickpeas for a refreshing snack, dip, or addition to your meal. Oscar even dipped his sandwich into it, combining the two for what he described as a “nice addition.”
The new Meatless Gyro and Eggplant Hummus will be available at participating Halal Guys locations nationwide starting for a limited time. You can get it in sandwich or platter form with all of the usual fixings, including that plant-based tzatziki for those looking to keep everything animal free.
As 2020 drew to a close, Taco Bell deleted over a dozen items from its menu, including fan favorites like potatoes and the iconic Mexican Pizza.
While potatoes are back on the menu now, the rest of the lineup slots look like they might be filled by some test items Taco Bell has run. There’s a lot being trialed right now, including the addition the viral Chicken Sandwich Taco that’s sparked some roasting from fellow fast food chains.
In total, Taco Bell has over a half dozen items testing right now. One set of items, pictured above, is the new “Primo Burritos,” currently testing in Kansas City. There’s no clear distinction as to what makes these “Primo,” although it appears the model for these is “look weighty but be on a budget.”
The two versions, Loaded Taco and Chicken Enchilada, cost no more than $1.50 each (the Loaded Taco one being just $1), and are packed with sour cream, rice, cheddar cheese, and ingredients that give each burrito their distinct flavor.
Stackers are also making a reappearance, this time in Grilled Cheese form. Taco Bell didn’t provide any details on this item other than the name, but it looks like the tri-folded quesadilla may come with a cheesy crust, as the Grilled Cheese Burrito of old did. This item is currently being tested in Houston, Texas.
Over in Columbus, Ohio, Taco Bell is looking at tacos that are all about the heat. This set of $1 Spicy Tacos feature the chain’s proprietary beef, lettuce, cheese, and one of three different spicy sauces. Customers can opt for Mild Jalapeño, Medium Chipotle, or a “White Hot” Ranch made with ghost chili peppers.
Portland Taco Bell fans can try out a new trio of bowls currently being tested in the area. Called the “Stacked Bowls,” each comes with a double portion of meat. From there, ingredients may vary, with seasoned rice serving as a base, but other ingredients like refried or black beans, a variety of sauces, or even a new purple cabbage topping all available.
The Stacked Taco Bowl contains beef, rice, refried beans, a blend of purple cabbage and lettuce, crunchy red strips, a three-cheese blend, sour cream, tomatoes, and guac. There’s also the Avocado Ranch Chicken Bowl (chicken, seasoned rice, black beans, a blend of purple cabbage and lettuce, a three-cheese blend, and avocado ranch sauce) and a Stacked Steak Melt Bowl, which goes double on both steak and cheese with rice, crunchy red strips, black beans, tomatoes, and chipotle sauce.
The bowls are the most expensive new item being tested, costing $4.49-$4.99 each.
Outside of the plethora of new test items, Taco Bell also dropped a new Strawberry Lemonade Freeze nationwide. The new slushy beverage is made with what the chain describes as “wild strawberries” and lemonade, and is available for a limited time.
Taco Bell is clearly looking to stack their menu with a variety of new options, but we’ll have to see which of these make it out of the test locations and into nationwide launches.
Every so often, I find myself torn between ordering a burrito or tacos when stopping at Chipotle. While the bowls have their own magic, there’s something special about biting into a layer of warm tortilla paired with fresh meat. It’s euphoric.
Imagine how much tougher that decision has become, knowing that Chipotle has now added mouthwatering build-your-own Quesadillas to their plethora of menu options.
Customers can choose from any of their favorite proteins. This includes Adobo Chicken, Steak, Barbacoa, Carnitas, and plant-based Sofritas, before filling it with their favorite accoutrements.
You can personalize it with any of their salsas and dips, so your meaty quesadillas will never be without sauce options.
The Quesadillas are available at Chipotle locations nationwide and can only be ordered online or through the Chipotle mobile app.
Sonic just unveiled a massive amount of drinks that will be coming to their menus throughout most of 2021. Among these are some intriguing blends, including a series of beverages inspired by boozy favorites.
These Uncorked Slushes, which will arrive on August 30th, take flavors like Peach Bellini, Red Berry Sangria, and Strawberry Frosé and turn them into frozen treats. These don’t have any alcohol, but nobody is saying that spiking them isn’t encouraged.
Each of the drinks will be available until September 26th, and represent a lean towards the grown-up category for SONIC, who also just announced their hard seltzer lineup that will be launching in May.
A more recent addition to the drive-in’s menu that’s available now is an OREO Cookie Dough Blast and Sundae. Each comes with bits of OREO cookie dough inside, but also contains an indulgent scoop that’s loaded on top of each sweet treat.
These are available through May 2nd, and are just the beginning of the indulgent shakes SONIC will have to offer this year. A Cheesecake Blast, Strawberry Cheesecake Blast, and a Banana Pudding Shake will all be arriving later this year. The cheesecake varieties will be available May 3 to June 27, while the Banana Pudding Shake arrives August 2-29.
SONIC is also an early arriver to the popping boba and boba game, joining Del Taco as one of two early adopters of the fun drink addition. Available from May 31st to August 1st, green apple “Bursting Bubbles” can be added to any drink, but there will also be Cherry and Blue Bursts available that contain them by default.
Foodbeast was able to obtain the ingredients to make the Cherry Burst from SONIC, and it includes Cherry syrup, Sprite, and the popping bubbles. These drinks will also be available in a slush variety.
This is just some of what SONIC will have to offer over the next year, with representatives noting that 2021 would be a big year for innovation for the chain. We’ll have to see what else is in store down the line.
When it comes to when or when not to tip at restaurants, there’s plenty up for discussion. One area where the assumed custom is unclear is whether we tip fast food workers.
This debate has continued to grow during the pandemic, when options like curbside pickup have become more common at chains across the country. Some spots are known for having no-tipping policies, while others don’t make it exactly clear.
Sonic Drive-In just added some clarity when it comes to their restaurants, however, announcing that the option to tip will be available across all of their restaurants.
According to Sonic’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lori Abou Habib, 1,000 Sonic locations already have the ability to tip, which consumers can do at the end of an order on the app or mobile system. Plans are in motion to expand this to the rest of Sonic’s stores (over 3,400) later this year.
Habib mentioned that the decision to add tipping was based purely on consumer feedback. It was “one of the most requested things from Sonic consumers this year,” she mentioned during a virtual event.
Considering how much eaters wanted to tip the Sonic staff, you have to wonder if the rest of fast food might start enable tipping more regularly as well, especially as curbside pickup, a rough equivalent to the drive-in model, continues to grow in popularity.