These stunt foods are just too startling to ignore. By combining traditionally savory dishes with sweet, the food industry manages to grab the attention of the buyer. These dishes are memorable due to their surprising nature.
The original Nachos Cheese Doritos Locos Taco was made of one giant Doritos chip and debuted in March 2012. It became the most popular thing on the menu. To date more than 600 million Doritos Locos Tacos have been sold, and in 2012 they were being purchased at a rate of a million per day.
Del Taco created the Chili Cheese Fry Burrito after noticing that their customers had been making it in the store all along. It took a lot of scientific engineering in a sensory lab to ensure that the dry ingredients didn't get too moist in the burrito.
When Baskin Robbins was hoping to make a sweet version of nachos with their products, it took a lot of trial and error to ensure that everything would cook in a timely fashion. Eventually their executive chef Stan Frankenthaler and his team figured out how to keep the brownies in the dish from burning by using the waffle iron, which managed to bake the brownies perfectly.
Carl's Jr. began to test this frozen treat in a few small restaurants, and the dessert went viral. Brad Haley, the chief marketing officer of Carl’s Jr explained, “The idea of it just seemed to capture people’s imaginations, and it’s one of those things that just brings a smile to everyone’s face when they hear about it, if not a downright swoon in some cases. So, really, we had no choice but to make it available for all Carl’s Jr. customers to enjoy.”
Dunkin Donuts had been experimenting in the art of creating a sweet and savory breakfast sandwich. The man behind the breakfast sandwich Stan Frankenthaler said that they had to train the employees to properly prepare the dish. "We had to train our crew members on constructing the sandwich — slicing the doughnut, adding the fried egg and bacon," he recalled.
Pizza Hut experienced a lot of success by stuffing cheese into the crusts of their pizzas, so they decided to step up their game and add a hot dog to the crust. The dish isn't available in the US yet, but we'd love to see one ourselves!
Wendy's pretzel bacon cheese burger, which features a doughy, pretzel-esque bun, was a huge success. According to Mark Kalinowski of Janney Capital Market the burger is "Wendy's best new-product introduction in the last 10 years," or since the chain debuted salads in 2002.
Sonic debuted a unique take on the pretzel bun: a hot dog that used pretzel bread the bun. Since the hot dog was released during summer, it combined classic foods from the ball park: pretzels and hot dogs. The chief marketing officer at Sonic Corp, James O'Reilly explained in a press release, "Summer without hot dogs and pretzels is like summer without baseball or fireworks. it's just not right!"
Jack In The Box attempted to sweeten up breakfast by sandwiching two eggs, sausage, ham, American cheese and bacon between maple-flavored waffles. Their summer slogan was "Go Big" and this breakfast sandwich certainly achieves that. "We want our guests to 'Go Big' and make the most out of everything that summer has to offer," Iwona Alter, Division Vice President of Menu Strategy, explained in a press release.
“Most people in America think ‘Oh, college food, instant ramen, cheap,’ but real ramen is actually a little more healthy for you than instant ramen and it’s actually really good. People take good care in making it,” Keizo Shimamoto, creator of the Ramen Burger explained to TODAY.com.
Curious gourmands now flock to Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg at 7:30 am on Saturdays to line up for a taste of the ramen burger, which always sells out.
Ever heard of a "stunt food?" Do Doritos Locos Tacos ring a bell? How about the infamous KFC Double Down? These dishes are known as "stunt foods" which generally merge two established meals, snacks or desserts into one and serve to celebrate indulgence. Stunt foods also attempt to blur the lines between conventional meal categories like the ice cream sandwich that resembles a hamburger at Carl's Jr.
Barb Stucky, food industry expert and author of Taste: Surprising Stories and Science About Why Food Tastes Good, aptly calls these decadent creations "shock and awe foods."
With many national food chains pushing their healthier options, more indulgent meals like the Burger King Bacon Sundae evoke such awe that they become big hits according to Megan LoDolce, a food marketing researcher from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity: "When one of these chains comes out of left field and introduces something so shockingly indulgent, it's like a release from the onslaught of fear-mongering about our health."
Two forces have helped to generate this surge of stunt foods: Developing novel products to satisfy the customer and social media.
Exciting the consumer has always been a huge priority for the food industry, but the competition is fierce. According to the NPD Group, the amount of unique items on fast food menus has doubled in the US since the 90s, which increases the demand to grab the consumer's attention.
Social media on the other hand has made food execs question the role of traditional advertising. By creating foods that are seemingly difficult to ignore, the products can go viral.
Check out the slideshow above to find out which stunt foods are changing the food industry today.