So far this year, the fast food industry has been transformed more than you may realize. Every week, new offerings from fast food giants are being introduced, but in 2013, it seems as if a commitment has been made to be on the cutting edge not only of the fast food world, but also of the culinary world at large. We’ve taken a look at every fast-food innovation this year, and have rounded up the top 10.
When a fast food giant rolls out a new product, it requires years and years of market research, development, testing, marketing, and distribution, and it’s much more difficult than it seems. For example, if McDonald’s decided that they wanted to include cilantro in just one of their items, whole farms would have to be bought, shipping lines would have to be implemented, and the sudden increase in demand would push up cilantro prices nationwide.
Also, rolling out new menu items is always a gamble, and a pricey one at that. While they’re reluctant to share the exact price of rolling out a new item, fast food giants often invest several million dollars in every new product they roll out. So when a product fails, it fails big. But more often than not, when a new item is added to the menu of a big chain, it’s gone through so many rounds of market testing that the brand can be pretty much assured that it’s going to sell.
From a french fry that absorbs less oil to KFC’s experiment with a fast-casual concept, we’ve rounded up the top 10 cutting-edge fast food innovations so far this year.
1. Burger King Satisfries
Burger King shook up the relatively static fast food french fry world last month with the introduction of Satisfries, which not only are crinkle-cut, but contain less fat and calories than their standard fries thanks to a nifty scientific trick. Every fast food fry gets a dunk in a thin batter, and this one is formulated to allow less oil to penetrate into the potato while it fries. Not only does it make the offering healthier, it completely reinvents it. Satisfries are the most cutting-edge fast food invention so far in 2013.
2. KFC Opens KFC eleven
After much secrecy, KFC opened their fast-casual prototype, KFC eleven, near their Louisville, Ky., headquarters back in July. With a menu largely revolving around their new boneless chicken (used in salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, and flatbreads), the new restaurant is geared toward those who are looking for something a little upscale with their fast food. It’s still unknown whether more will open, but this could be a sign of things to come for a fast food industry that’s constantly looking to reinvent itself.
3. McDonald’s Mighty Wings
McDonald’s proved once again last month that they could revolutionize the fast-food industry without skipping a beat by announcing that they’d be testing out their Mighty Wings on a national scale. The wings are big and crispy, and prove that a fast food giant other than KFC can compete in this game.
4. McDonald’s Egg White Delight
McDonald’s announced in March a major shake-up to its breakfast menu, with the introduction of an all-egg-white sandwich. As opposed to the microwaved patties you see elsewhere, these are made with real egg whites, cooked free-form on the griddle. Partnered with Canadian bacon and white Cheddar cheese on a whole-grain English muffin, it’s something we can certainly get behind.
5. McDonald’s Offering Salads, Fruit, Vegetable Sides
For as long as McDonald's Value Meals have been around, there has only been one side option: fries. As another indicator of a move toward healthiness, McDonald's announced last month that fries will soon be joined by fruit, salads, and vegetables. A variety of side dish options as part of a value meal might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s breaking new ground in the fast food industry.
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