Back In: Black Angus Beef

Upscaling of LTOs powered by brand names with premium connotation

By
Elliott Krause, Freelance writer

McDonald's Clubhouse Angus Burger

CHICAGO -- Angus Young, along with his brother Malcolm, started the band AC/DC in 1974. For his prowess on the guitar, Angus beef was named after him.

While that isn’t remotely true, this part is: Angus beef is a hit in restaurant limited-time offerings (LTOs), according to the latest MenuTrends Insider update from Datassential.

Although a quarter of all fine-dining restaurants feature an entree with Angus beef, Angus is growing the fastest at quick-service restaurants (QSRs): Since 2008, 44% more QSRs feature Angus beef on their menus, according to the Chicago-based firm. For instance, Subway is offering three new Angus melt sandwiches in select markets. Part burger and part sandwich, these include the Classic Angus Melt, Monterey Cheddar Ranch Angus and Spicy Chipotle Angus Melt.

Additionally, McDonald’s has plans to release its Clubhouse Angus Burger nationwide after months of testing. According to its description from Datassential, “The ‘pub-style’ burger comes with an Angus patty topped with smoky Dijon mustard sauce, hickory-smoked bacon, white Cheddar and American cheeses and steak sauce.”

The power of the LTO is in its name: You gotta get it while you can. “Creating a kind of mystique around an item can really create that buzz and make it successful,” Mark DiDomenico, director of business development at Datassential, tells Fare Digest.

LTOs work the best when they are easy to execute, using the same ingredients or equipment a QSR already has (like McDonald’s snack wraps, for which the company needed only to add tortillas to its kitchens); when they are an easy yet exciting twist on an existing menu item (such as adding ranch to a bacon cheeseburger); and when they play into seasonal tastes (such as pumpkin-spice cappuccinos at c-stores and coffee shops).

One of the most successful LTOs of all time is the McRib from McDonald’s, which has also had perennial success with its Shamrock Shake. Dessert items are another rich ground for LTOs, for which Oreos rule supreme.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Oreo is the most common brand name on dessert menus, appearing more than three times as often as the first runner-up, according to Datassential. Dunkin' Donuts, Baskin Robbins and Dairy Queen are just a few of the many chains featuring an Oreo-based item as an LTO this year.

Why Oreo? The best-selling cookie in the United States, the Oreo offer “universal appeal and popularity,” DiDomenico says. Everyone eats them, but with a small twist they also fit in well on higher-end, gourmet dessert menus.