Thursday, February 28, 2008

Will there be another fajita?

Wendy’s touted its Frescata line as a major point of different—deli sandwiches made with bread baked in the restaurants. It was canned in December. Panera Bread said its Crispani pizza would rev up dinner sales and please patrons looking for all-natural options. The franchisor quietly yanked the item sometime after November. In 2006, Starbucks trumpeted its new premium-priced breakfast sandwiches as the long-sought way for the chain to grab more food sales. Instead, the array is on the way out. Is the blockbuster new product going the way of two-for-one happy hours and free matchbooks?

Well, there is the incredible success of sliders, the mini-sandwiches that everyone from Good Time Burgers to Cheesecake Factory is selling these days. They, in turn, are part of the miniaturization that has also led to the widespread availability of spoon-sized desserts, small plates and even small-pour glasses of wine. But, as your nearest White Castle or Krystal attests, that mini mania is nothing new.

Ditto for burgers, which are truly undergoing a second coming. Sure, they may be made now with Kobe or Angus beef, but it’s still the American classic, just gussied up with better ingredients and garnishes.

Indeed, with the exception of beverages (the mojito, cosmopolitans, Pisco sours) can you name a new chain menu addition since the middle-decade premium salad blitz that has really wowed consumers? Double points if it’s something other than McDonald’s Snack Wrap.

The dearth says something about the growing sophistication of consumers. They’re not as dazzled as they once might have been by sheer novelty. Instead, they’re looking for a true advance—better flavor, a meal more in keeping with their lifestyles or eating habits, a meaningful alternative to what they know. If that’s not in the set of options, then go with the best among the choices offered.

And, of course, now it will no longer extend to Frescattas, Crispanis or a microwaved Egg McMuffin a la Starbucks.

1 comment:

  1. Probably not - the Fajita Pita from Jack in the Box was brillant and it's still around! Love that product.