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The Secret’s Out: Top 10 Food Chains With Popular Secret Menus

Kelli Shiroma |
February 25, 2013 | 5:44 p.m. PST

Associate Food Editor

In-N-Out Burger's "Animal Fries" and "Animal Style" Burger are two of the most popular items on its secret menu (punctuated / Creative Commons).
In-N-Out Burger's "Animal Fries" and "Animal Style" Burger are two of the most popular items on its secret menu (punctuated / Creative Commons).
It's no secret that nationwide chains like McDonalds, In-N-Out Burger and Jamba Juice have secret menus. But what items are on these menus ... and why, in many cases, are they kept under wraps?

Many of these chains’ secret menu items are regularly requested but hardly publicized, according to Business Insider. Consequently, the news about the secret menu items are passed via word of mouth or are known by customers who frequent these particular eateries.

Although secret menus have been around for a long time at chains like Jamba Juice and In-N-Out Burger—the latter actually publicizes its secret menu—the concept is starting to catch on among other fast food chains, according to NPR. While customers often like knowing what’s on the menu before visiting an eatery for the first time, secret menu items add an extra layer of uniqueness to diners looking to make themselves distinct. NPR also reports that secret menus often make customers feel like they are “in the know” at certain eateries, thus enhancing the connection between the individual and the diner and increasing customer loyalty.

While some of the most popular secret menu items are unique concoctions—like In-N-Out’s “Animal Fries” and Jamba Juice’s “Gummi Bear” smoothie—others, like the McDonalds “Big McChicken,” are combinations of menu classics.

Here’s a list of some of the most well-know eateries with secret menu items that are sure to wow, please and sometimes puzzle you on your next trip.

1. In-N-Out Burger

The In-N-Out secret menu is actually publicized on the company’s website (http://www.in-n-out.com/menu/not-so-secret-menu.aspx). Some of the most popular items on the burger chain’s secret menu include the “Protein Style” Burger, which is a burger wrapped in crisp Iceberg lettuce instead of a bun, and “Animal-Style Fries,” which includes a mountain of grilled onions, pickles and cheese piled high atop French fries. Another noteworthy non-menu item is the “Neapolitan Shake,” a creamy blend of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream. 

2. McDonalds

While the "Golden Arches" already symbolize a plethora of burger varieties, McDonalds ups the ante even further with its secret menu.

The “McGangBang” features a combination as dangerous as its name sounds, with a McChicken sandwich inside a Double Cheeseburger.

Time is of the essence when ordering the “Mc10:35,” is a special non-menu item available during the fast food chain’s switch from its breakfast menu to its regular menu at 10:35 a.m. Similar to the “McGangBang,” the “Mc10:35” features a combination of two regular menu items — in this case, it’s the Egg McMuffin and the McDouble

Two other noteworthy items on the secret menu are the “Big McChicken” and “Land, Sea and Air” Burger. The “Big McChicken” demonstrates what a super-sized Big Mac looks like when its traditional buns are replaced by fried chicken patties. The “Land, Sea and Air” burger is a combination of three tarter sauce-covered meats—beef patty, chicken patty and Filet O’ Fish patty—in one grisly sandwich. 

3. Jamba Juice

The “White Gummi Bear” Smoothie is one of the most highly requested items, according to Alex Montes, who works at the Jamba Juice in the Westfield Culver City shopping mall. Even though this item isn’t on Jamba Juice’s regular menu, that doesn’t stop the numerous customer orders. 

“Almost everyone who comes in here orders from the secret menu,” Montes says. “The ‘White Gummi Bear’ smoothie in particular has a fresh mix of raspberry, pineapple and orange sherbet, as well as peace juice, soymilk and frozen mangoes.”

The Jamba Juice secret menu contains a creative plethora of smoothies, designed to appease a variety of cravings. Some drinks are named after favorite childhood candies and cereals, while others are named for their primary ingredients. For example, the “Sourpatch Kid” exemplifies a grand mix of sour flavors with lemonade, lime sherbet, pineapple sherbet, blueberries, orange sherbet and raspberry sherbet, while “Raspberry Dreamin’” is a blend of raspberry sherbet, raspberry juice, soymilk and frozen yogurt. 

4. Panera Bread

Referred to as being part of the “Hidden Menu," the off-menu items are not a secret at Panera Bread. The company recently released this “Hidden Menu,” which is accessible through the MyPaneraBread website

Created by Scott Davis, Panera Bread’s chief concept officer, the “Hidden Menu” offers customers a variety of “power options” for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every item on the menu contains the word “power,” due to its limited processed carbs and additional protein. For example, the “Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey” features all-natural turkey, basil Pesto, roasted peppers and egg whites atop a bed of warm baby spinach, while the “Power Steak Lettuce Wraps” contains leaf lettuce with a mix of cucumbers, diced tomatoes and red onions, seared top-sirloin, basil Pesto and fresh lemon juice.

5. Subway

Rumor has it that Subway will still make its popular Pizza Sub upon request. The sandwich, which made its debut in the 1990s, was taken off the menu once the chain focused on providing its customers with healthy alternatives to fast food. However, the decadent Pizza Sub—comprising salami, pepperoni, cheese and tomato sauce—can still be made upon request. 

6. Burger King

Vegetarians and meat lovers alike will love the Burger King secret menu. Featuring a regular Whopper Burger but substituting the beef patty for a veggie patty, the “Veggie Whopper” provides an option for vegetarians who miss the BK flavor.

The Burger King secret menu options are endless for the carnivore. The “Suicide Burger” contains a meat overload of four beef patties, four slices of cheese and bacon, all smothered in a special sauce. The “Rodeo Burger” features a cheeseburger comprising barbeque sauce and onion rings. Speaking of the latter, indecisive customers who can’t choose between French fries or onion rings can easily order the secret menu’s “Frings,” which features the best of both worlds.

7. Olive Garden

At Olive Garden, the secret menu isn’t exactly a “secret,” according to Tony Jones, who has worked at the Olive Garden Arcadia location for seven years. Rather, the “secret menu” contains the most popular customer-modified items that are on the eatery’s regular menu, Jones says.

“For example, we have a Shrimp Alfredo on the secret menu, which is basically our Seafood Alfredo with just sautéed shrimp in the creamy fettuccine,” Jones explains. “Because a lot of customers order the Seafood Alfredo with no scallops, it’s a lot easier for employees to have the Shrimp Alfredo on the secret menu. It makes it more simple to create [because we all know what it is].”

Other noteworthy secret menu items at Olive Garden include a Lasagna & Spaghetti Combination, a Lasagna & Fettuccine Combination, Chicken Carbonara and Shrimp Carbonara. The latter two items are spin-offs from the Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara featured on the regular menu, as customers sometimes prefer having only one addition to their pasta ensemble. 

8. Taco Bell

According to Ranker, the Taco Bell secret menu consists of many discontinued menu items that were brought back by popular demand, as well as other original creations. The “Cheesy Gordita Crunch,” for example, is a regular menu item at some Taco Bell locations but is on the secret menu at others. This customer favorite includes a ground beef-filled taco shell placed inside a gordita with a layer of melted cheese and covered with lettuce, shredded cheese and cheese sauce. 

The Taco Bell secret menu also contains items that are twists on its classic menu items. For example, the “Enchirito” introduces a spin on the traditional enchilada, comprising a savory mixture of beef, beans, cheese and diced onions and covered with red sauce, while the “Double-Grilled Quesadilla” features an extra-crispy quesadilla that is twice-grilled on the skillet. 

9. Starbucks

The “Biscotti Frapuccino,” “Raspberry Cheesecake,” “Captain Crunch” and “Zebra Mocha”—also known as the “Tuxedo Mocha”—are favorites on the vast secret menu at Starbucks. The “Biscotti Frapuccino” adds an additional crunch to your favorite frapuccino flavor, while the “Raspberry Cheesecake” features a sweet white chocolate mocha with extra pumps of raspberry. The “Zebra Mocha” is a blend of white and regular chocolate mochas, and the “Captain Crunch”—one of the most original secret menu items—puts a twist on the regular Strawberries and Crème frappe with the addition of toffee, caramel, hazelnut and chocolate chips. 

10. Wendy’s

Although its secret menu might not be as extensive as those of Burger King or McDonalds, Wendy’s still strikes a winner among customers with its “Grand Slam.” This mighty sandwich—also called the “Meat Cube”—features a sandwich with four meat patties. The “Barnyard Burger”—a spicy chicken sandwich with layers of beef, bacon and ham interspersed with cheese—is another secret menu favorite. 

Reach Kelli Shiroma here



 

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Comments

Sarah (not verified) on September 17, 2013 4:41 PM

OMG, I'm addicted to Ranker after finding it here. They have a ton of other secret menu items, including more for Olive Garden here: http://www.ranker.com/list/olive-garden-secret-menu-items/secret-menu-items Squeee!

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Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:50 AM

Genius piece. You see so many articles about secret menus, but this one taught me some I didn't know! You're a great foodie detective! :D

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