Do Places Like Starbucks, Panera, And Five Guys Really Have “Secret Menus?”
Fast-food chains might have more to offer if you know how to ask (hint: search online).
Extra flavoring turns a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino into a “Cake Batter” beverage.
Bored to tears by the same old backlit shortlist of offerings at your guilty-pleasure drive-thru? Thanks to websites like HackTheMenu and Secretmenuholic.com, the public is catching onto fast-food chains’ secret menus—unofficial specialty items many will make by request. While some restaurants have dreamed up items themselves, despite largely not advertising them, most of these original concoctions come from customers’ own imaginations, and then are passed on by word of mouth.
Online communities dedicated to sharing images and recipes of members’ innovative creations reveal such menus at locally found chains like Five Guys, Jamba Juice, KFC, Starbucks, and Subway. Panera, one of the only brands to openly feature its “secret menu” on its website (a delicious marketing ploy, it would appear) has healthier options, like Power Bowls featuring egg whites and roasted turkey. One of Burger King’s most popular “secret” items is the Suicide Burger, with four beef patties plus four slices of cheese, bacon, and a special sauce.
Panera’s “hacked” Power Bowl with chicken and hummus
According to voting site Ranker, the reigning favorite across fast-food eateries is West Coast chain In-N-Out Burger’s 4x4 Burger, another four-patty monstrosity. (In-N-Out, too, has its “Not-So-Secret Menu” up on its site.) In an article on foodie site First We Feast, Chipotle’s communications director states that, while management doesn’t recognize a secret menu at the Mexi-chain, certain custom-request items have undeniably become popular. Indeed, #HackTheMenu calls the Quesarito—a regular burrito with a cheese quesadilla for a shell—“the Holy Grail of the Chipotle Secret Menu.”
We Tried It...
When we ventured an off-menu order at Starbucks in Pleasantville, our barista was stumped, never having heard of the hot-online Cake Batter Frappuccino (a Vanilla Bean Crème Frapp with more almond flavoring), nor the Zebra Mocha Frappuccino (half chocolate Frapp, half white chocolate, with chocolate chips and topped with chocolate drizzle)
Playing coy and insisting Starbucks isn’t affiliated with any secret menu (toeing the party line, we say), the gentleman did say he would make any version of the drink if given the recipe.
Try it out with one of the endless variations on fan-sourced www.starbuckssecretmenu.net.