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Restaurant chains promote value, new menu items ahead of the big game

Bundles, sweepstakes, a bet on overtime also call attention to menu offerings

As Super Bowl LV approaches, restaurants will be promoting the value and taste profile of their game-day offerings. Wings, pizza and value meals are a big part of the industry game, and what is out now is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to limited-time specials and menu introductions as we countdown to the start of the big game.

As the pandemic rages on, more than two-thirds of consumers will be watching the game alone or with family members only, according to survey data by programmatic advertising company Adtaxi. The big game is a chance for restaurant multi-unit operators to promote menu offerings and bundles that reflect value.

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At Applebee’s, Boneless Wings are front and center. It’s a smart move as 1.4B wings will be sold during the championship game, a 2-percent increase, from last year, according to the National Chicken Council. And this casual-dining chain is offering its own contribution with a 1.6M-wing giveaway for orders made on Applebee’s To Go. Guests who enter the promo code BIGGAME when ordering $40 or more on the Applebee’s app or applebees.com will receive 40 free Boneless Wings. All customers that day will get a $0 delivery fee.

Zaxby’s polished up its wings game and introduced a General Tso’s Boneless Wings for a limited time. The chain’s restaurants prepare the limited-time offer by tossing its boneless wings in the new, multidimensional sauce. In the meal deal, General Tso’s Boneless Wings are served with a side of ranch, crinkles fries, Texas toast, and a 22-ounce Freestyle fountain beverage for $6.49.

Buffalo Wild Wings is renewing its annual promise to give out free wings to everyone in the country if the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tied at the end of regulation, and ends up going into OT. Some say, there’s actually a 10 percent chance it could happen.

Papa John's offers up an Epic Stuffed Chair in a sweepstakes intended to call attention to the new Stuffed Crust Pizza
Papa John’s offers up an Epic Stuffed Chair in a sweepstakes intended to call attention to the new Stuffed Crust Pizza. Photo by Papa John’s.

Pizza chains and quick-service concepts have been improving their menu offerings in advance of the big game.

Donatos introduced cauliflower wings nationwide. The new wings are made from cauliflower florets, roasted and tossed in one of four dry rubs or three sauces. The use of cauliflower in the new addition reinforces the chain’s plant-based initiatives.

Pizza Hut embraced a hot, indulgent trend with its launch of Detroit-Style Pizza, rolled out to locations nationwide. The rectangular-shaped pizza has cheese prepared to the edges, and loaded with toppings and tomato sauce. Pizza Hut offers four different styles of Detroit-Style pizza; Double Cheesy, Meaty Deluxe, Detroit Double Pepperoni, and Supremo.

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Papa John’s launched Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza last month, its first stuffed crust and only variation of its crust since 2019. This month, it launched an Epic Stuffs Sweepstakes through February 14. The contest gives one winner the chance to win a $32,000 Epic Stuffed chair, which features a reinforced pizza table, a smartphone holder and a Garlic Sauce cup dispenser. The winner will also take home a $7,500 cash prize.

Panera Bread added two new selections to its Flatbread Pizzas line: A Pepperoni and Four Cheese. These bolster the existing lineup that includes Cheese, Margherita and Chipotle Chicken & Bacon varieties. As with all Flatbread Pizza selections, the Pepperoni and Four Cheese Flatbread Pizzas are part of a family bundle that customers can choose, served with two salads and priced at $23. The bundle could be a hit on game day.

BJ’s Restaurants & Brewhouse is offering Brewhouse Homegating Packs, packed with family-sized appetizers and game day treats for $64.95. The package comprises one large deep dish pizza; a choice of one family-sized chips & dip; choice of two shareable appetizers; plus a choice of a 64-ounce BJ’s Handcrafted Signature Beer growler or non-alcoholic beverage.

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