It’s refreshing to see that not all menu innovation is centered around functional food. Some of it is just fun. That was my thought when I read a blurb earlier this month about Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s latest LTO—Froot Loops Mini Donuts. That is, mini donuts in the colors of Froot Loops, so they look like the cereal… in red, blue, green, purple and yellow. I bet they even use artificial coloring!
The company press release offers nostalgia as the thought behind the sugary-cereal-like donuts. It could just as easily have been a matter of indulgence, creative snacking or expanding the breakfast daypart.
Cereal itself is expanding across the menu—a breakfast dish-turned-ingredient—thinking outside the cereal box with still more life to give breakfast and brunch. And I’m not talking about granola, which is almost classified as a superfood. No. I mean all the other stuff lining the cereal aisle.
I noticed on the menu at Scratch Kitchen and Meatery in Honolulu Milk N Cereal Pancakes with a side of milk syrup. The pancake stack was topped with banana and strawberry slices, corn flakes and powdered sugar. A great way to get some crunch in there.
Anything that has to be batter-dipped for breakfast or brunch may as well be dredged in cereal. How about Cap’n Crunch-crusted French toast with a side of cereal milk custard and fresh strawberries. It’s on the menu at Culinary Dropout. On the brunch menu, chicken and waffles get a tweak with Rice Krispie-crusted chicken on a Belgian waffle with maple-bacon syrup as seen on the menu at Chicago’s Heaven on Seven.
Cereal breading goes right on through the menu for lunch and dinner, making for a great menu story and perhaps some social media traction. The Fried Avocado Wrap at Picasso on Paseo in Oklahoma City is possible because the avocado is corn flake crusted. The Chicken Sliders at BurGR are also corn flake crusted. Corn flakes are generic enough to take on the other chicken slider flavors of five spice, Sriracha mayo, pickled scallions and arugula.
Desserts are where operators can go crazy with cereal. That’s because a successful dessert will be craveable and Instagramable. Even here, the crusted theme works for a dessert that is going to wow the guest as a fried version of its best self. Consider the Rolo’s Fried Ice Cream at Mugshots Grill & Bar, Tupelo, Miss. The vanilla ice cream scoops are rolled in Frosted Flakes, deep fried, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
Famed food star Guy Fieri just opened his new Chicken Guy restaurant in Walt Disney World Resort with Cinnamon Apple on the dessert menu described as hand-spun vanilla soft-serve, crunchy cinnamon cereal and cinnamon-apple cereal with fresh whipped cream. (He’s using Apple Jacks.)
For a cupcake topping, how about Lucky Charms sprinkled on top of light green vanilla bean buttercream frosting? It’s the Lucky Charms Cupcake at Yummy Cupcakes.
Cereal-topped milkshakes are certainly photogenic, providing a wealth of LTOs for Steak ‘n Shake. The chain has come out with a Cinnamon Crunch Milkshake, Cocoa Krispies Milkshake, Froot Loops Milkshake and Frosted Flakes Milkshake.
Where can cereal go that it hasn’t been before? I was going to say ball park hotdogs. But at Progressive Field, the Cleveland Indians already thought of that and offered hot dogs loaded with mac n' cheese, bacon and Froot Loops.
Tell me what you think.