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Dunkin' avocado toast is here — and so are these other 7 new fast foods

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·6 min read
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Dunkin' Brands is still debuting creative new menu items since being devoured by restaurant conglomerate Inspire Brands for $11.3 billion late last year.

On Wednesday, Dunkin' revealed an entry into the world of the culturally relevant brunch staple, avocado toast. The way Dunkin's marketing team pitches this one, it sounds as important on the menu as the chain's dark roast coffee or glazed donuts.

"Dunkin’s Avocado Toast features creamy, mouthwatering avocado spread made with four simple ingredients: avocado, sea salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. This smooth combination is spread out edge-to-edge on Dunkin’s authentic toasted Sourdough Bread, baked from a recipe created especially by Dunkin’ using a true Sourdough starter for a tangy twist that elevates the Avocado Toast. For an extra dash of flavor, the avocado is then topped with Everything Bagel Seasoning which includes sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion, and garlic," Dunkin said in a statement.

Unlike the urban hotspots serving up $15 avocado toast to 20 somethings making $40,000 a year (pre-pandemic, of course), Dunkin's take on veggie toast will only hit your digital wallet to the tune of $2.99.

Yeah.

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That said, Dunkin' isn't the only major fast-food chain to come out on fire with new food drops this year.

After a 2020 where product innovation took a backseat as most restaurants focused on ensuring employee safety and managing restaurant closures during the pandemic, the biggest chains have kicked off 2021 with several key new releases.

Here are several of the latest food concoctions that have caught Yahoo Finance’s attention as potential sales and earnings movers.

Popeyes does more fish.

Popeyes has gone fishing for sales.

The new Popeyes fish sandwich became available in restaurant and for delivery nationwide for $4.49 on Feb. 11, Yahoo Finance’s Brooke DiPalma reported. The Pacific-water fried fish is “light and flakey and seasoned in a blend of the Louisiana-rooted brand’s Cajun mild and spicy seasoning” — and topped with tartar sauce.

The CEO of Popeyes parent company Restaurant Brands (QSR) José Cil hinted to Yahoo Finance Live he is bullish on the sandwich's potential.

Burger King pumps up the bacon.

Yahoo Finance stumbled upon Burger King’s new Breakfast Bacon King Sandwich on the YouTube page of widely followed food reviewer The Endorsement (above video). A spokesperson will barely confirm its existence to Yahoo Finance.

“We’re always working to provide our guests the craveable, satisfying breakfast they deserve any day of the week and that means working to test new products, like the Breakfast Bacon King Sandwich. We don’t have specific details that we are ready to share at this time, but exciting developments will be coming soon,” the spokesperson told Yahoo Finance via email.

But it does in fact exist, and appears to be undergoing a test in certain restaurants.

Going by the video, the sandwich looks to be a classic fast-food mashup. It features six slices of bacon, a sausage patty, an egg, two slices of cheese, and zesty sauce on a bun.

Burger King is also owned by Restaurant Brands International.

McDonald’s revamps its fried chicken sandwich.

After watching rival Popeyes dominate the fried chicken sandwich game for over a year, McDonald’s (MCD) has decided it’s time to take some action.

The Golden Arches introduced three new fried chicken sandwiches on Feb. 24: the crispy chicken sandwich (pickles and a new buttered toasted roll are the highlights); the spicy chicken sandwich (same build as the crispy sandwich, except with spicy pepper sauce); and the deluxe chicken sandwich (adds shredded lettuce and tomatoes to the mix).

Restaurant Brands' Cil told Yahoo Finance Live he welcomes all new competitors to the fried chicken space.

“The Popeye’s story has been incredible. The chicken sandwich was a great opportunity to bring new customers and new guests to try the great-tasting chicken, whether it’s bone in or the sandwich itself. The brand is very well situated for long-term growth, we think, here in the U.S. and beyond,” Cil said.

Game on.

Chipotle cauliflower rice pushes aside carb heavy regular rice.

Chipotle has launched cilantro-lime cauliflower rice nationwide for a limited time. Cauliflower rice — which is essentially finely chopped cauliflower — has quickly spread in the frozen food sections of supermarkets due primarily to its lower calorie and carb counts relative to traditional rice. Chipotle (CMG) says cauliflower rice has been among the most asked for items at the chain, per findings from its surveys of consumers.

Next up for 2021 at Chipotle: a potential nationwide rollout of brisket, which would certainly be buzz-creating. Meanwhile, Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung told Yahoo Finance recently a roll-out of quesadillas is on the docket.

Dunkin’ gets a new plant-based friend.

It's the year of the plant for Dunkin', clearly. Besides avocado toast, in January Dunkin' joined forces with Kellogg’s (K) Morningstar Farms brand for an interesting take on a plant-based sandwich.

Dubbed the Southwest Veggie Power Breakfast Sandwich, it features a Morningstar Farms black bean patty with southwest flavors, an egg white omelette infused with spinach, bell peppers and onions, topped with cheddar cheese. It’s all packed between two multi-grain thins and available at select restaurants nationwide.

This gives Dunkin’ two plant-based breakfast sandwiches, the other one being with long-time partner Beyond Meat and its spicy sausage patty.

McDonald’s McPlant is out in the wild.

Mum generally remains the word on the launch plans for McDonald’s (MCD) McPlant, a plant-based sandwich made in partnership with Beyond Meat. But the company appears to be at least testing the sandwich out in the wild.

Bloomberg reported recently the McPlant burger is now on menus at select locations in Denmark and Sweden. The plant-based burger is expected to be available until mid-March in Sweden and mid-April in Denmark.

The Golden Arches tested the sandwich under the "P.L.T." label in Canada last year (photo above).

Carl’s Jr. goes spicy.

Carl’s Jr. is a bit late to the spicy game, but it’s here nonetheless.

The restaurant chain recently debuted its "Fiery Menu." It consists of a burger with pepper Jack cheese, jalapenos, sliced onions, tomatoes, lettuce and new fiery sauce (habanero ranch sauce).

As for the chicken tenders, nothing trail-blazing there — the breaded tenders become fiery when you dip them in the side of habanero ranch sauce. Food innovation in its finest form.

An earlier version of this article was originally published on Jan. 4, 2021.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn. Find the latest in business and finance news here.

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