According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor database, menu mentions of loaded fries grew by 12.5% and poutine is up 22%, both in the latest two-year period. Fries are serving as a popular format for operators to flex their culinary creativity. This classic dish is getting topped with everything from spicy peppers to indulgent proteins to specialty sauces. Below are some topped fries recently rolled out at chain restaurants.
Wendy’s Canada added Ghost Pepper Fries to its menu for a limited time. The spicy dish features fries topped with ghost pepper sauce, fresh-diced jalapeños and cheese. MenuMonitor data shows that spicy flavours are up 55.6% in appetizer fries in the latest two-year period. This fits into a continuing trend of snacks and appetizers that spotlight next-level spicy ingredients, such as ghost peppers, Sriracha sauce and Cajun spices.
The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro is offering Netflix & Chili Fritos Fries as part of its limited-time Believe in Baconism III menu. The indulgent fries are topped with bacon chili, shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions and Fritos corn chips. Not only is the name of this item a playful reference to recent viral slang, but the ingredients are also an interesting new take on chili-cheese fries.
Smoke’s Poutinerie, known for its bold and creative poutine, introduced an Easter-inspired variety. The chain’s Easter Poutine featured fries topped with gravy, cheese curds, bacon and deep-fried Cadbury Crème Eggs. Although these fries were just a one-day offering, the bold uniqueness of this dish resulted in strong internet and word-of-mouth marketing by patrons. Even though the Easter Poutine isn’t a rational permanent menu item, it serves as a fun way to bring in interested new guests and gain exposure for the brand.
Canadian diners are particularly adventurous when it comes to their appetizer and snack options, making topped fries an ideal opportunity for experimentation. Operators should consider using limited-time fry varieties as an outlet in which they can test out emerging flavor and ingredient trends without committing to a permanent menu addition.
With more than 15 years of experience in the research/consulting industry, Patrick Noone, Senior Vice President, is integrally involved in the sales, development and marketing of Technomic’s online resources, reports and custom studies—tools that provide clients with actionable industry data that supports their strategic and tactical business planning processes. He also manages Technomic’s Business Development and Client Service teams.