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5 crazy menu items in 2010

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Restaurants — tracks feedback from restaurant owners and managers about current trends and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Have you ever added an unusual or outrageous ingredient or dish to your menu?

  • Yes, adding a menu item with an unusual ingredient or name can be a good PR move — 54.41%
  • No, my restaurant doesn’t resort to those kind of tactics — 38.24%
  • Not yet, but it’s something my restaurant is considering — 7.35%

More than 50% of you admitted to punching up your menu with a crazy menu item or two. This kind of marketing tactic can work well whether you’re a small independent operation or a global quickservice company. Although we haven’t come across too many really unusual examples of this trend in the fine-dining sector, the appeal of crazy and unique foods is clear with the success of television shows such as the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food.”

Back to restaurants — we have compiled a list of the top five attention-getting menu items we’ve come across lately:

  • The lion burger — Courtesy of Arizona’s Vinaio and its enthusiasm for the World Cup games in South Africa.
  • Pancake StackersIHOP appeals to those who like dessert for breakfast with this offering, which involves two pancakes and a layer of cheesecake sandwiched between them.
  • Rockstar MenuDenny’s features menu items created by popular bands. Hoobastank’s The Hooburrito involves chicken strips, fried onion straws, barbecue sauce and cheese (with a side of cheese sauce), while Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold Cherry Chocolate Cappuccino comes with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, french vanilla cappuccino and cherries.
  • KFC Double DownKFC‘s bacon and cheese sandwich replaces the traditional bun with chicken fillets. Word of mouth and media attention has already made this menu item a legend. The marketing tactic proved so successful that the company has debuted a new version of the sandwich: The Doublicious.
  • Friendly’s Burger MeltThe aptly named sandwich is a simple burger sandwiched between two grilled-cheese sandwiches.

Have you tried any of these attention-grabbing menu items?