What’s New in Fast Food

The fast food industry is battling for your dollars with new menu items, from lattes to an intimidating nine-patty cheeseburger.

In its report on 2013 trends in the fast food industry, franchise industry site FranchiseHelp.com says the nation’s 200,000 fast food restaurants brought in $160 billion in revenue last year. As for future trends… 

Busy citizens still need quick meal options, and fast food restaurants are fighting these challenges with gusto. Now offering healthy choices to battle the stigma of unhealthy food, some quick service restaurants now focus on fresh or organic products.

Here’s a run-down of new menu items from some of the nation’s most popular chains. You’ll note that while some may satisfy the quest for healthier options, others are moving in the opposite direction.

McDonald’s

The Golden Arches have two new items.

If you’re avoiding meat during Lent, you might like to try Fish McBites: chunks of Pollock in bite-size pieces, available in three sizes as well as in Happy Meals. They’ll be available through March.

The fast-food giant also added a new burger to its Dollar Menu: the Grilled Onion Cheddar burger.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s

These related chains added a charbroiled fish sandwich this month while taking aim at the competition’s fried fish choices. From Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s via BusinessWire:

“For almost half-a-century, whenever fast food customers wanted to get a fish sandwich during Lent, they had one choice; fried. With our new Charbroiled Atlantic Cod Fish Sandwich, we’ve changed all that. For the first time in the industry, our guests can get a premium-quality fish sandwich that tastes great and is lower in calories because we charbroil it just like we do our burgers…

White Castle

If you’re fine with fried, however, White Castle is offering deep fried Mac & Cheese Nibblers as well as Shrimp Nibblers during Lent.

Burger King

The Home of the Whopper has teamed with Seattle’s Best Coffee to offer new lattes and coffee drinks. Burger King spent almost a year developing its new coffee line with Seattle’s Best, Eric Hirschhorn, Burger King’s vice president of innovation, told USA Today.

Taco Bell

The chain that brought us a taco-loving Chihuahua is introducing Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos in its restaurants March 7. The Cool Ranch Doritos form the taco shell, which is then filled with beef, lettuce, and cheddar cheese. The Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos are the followup to their Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos.

Jake’s Wayback Burgers

What started out as the main event in a burger-eating contest last year is now going to be a permanent addition to the menu.

The Triple Triple Burger piles a whopping nine patties onto one massive burger that packs a punch in both protein and price: The burger will go for $12.99, according to BurgerBusiness.com.

The mostly east-coast burger chain decided to put the behemoth on its menu after a month-long test brought more than 100 orders. While the towering burger isn’t yet listed on its nutritional value list, you can add up the potential impact to your waistline by looking at the numbers for its three-patty Big Jake Cheeseburger: 770 callories, 44 grams of fat. Multiply that by three for a potential heart-stopping 2,310 calories and 132 grams of fat.

California Pizza Kitchen

Known for unique menu items, the two new seasonal offerings from California Pizza Kitchen don’t disappoint. Ever heard of Brussels sprouts on a pizza? At least there’s bacon on it too. The Brussels + Bacon Pizza has caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon, Romano, and creamy goat cheese with black pepper. The sprouts are separated, tossed in olive oil, and charred.

Their other new item is Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese Salad, served on a bed of red watercress with a lemon-vinaigrette and pistachios.

Both items will be available through March.

Look for more seasonal – and perhaps healthier – items in coming months as spring arrives and people watch what they eat to get ready for summer and swimsuit season.

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