Page 69

I

n a consumer-driven nation, the customer is king. That means, within reason, the customer is always right and it is their prerogative to ask for anything their heart desires. Like Burger King’s slogan, “Have It Your Way,” customers are always looking for the next big, special, customizable thing to set one restaurant apart from the rest as their favorite.

The secret menu is a trend popping up in many restaurants. With high levels of competition, and fewer things setting fast-food giants apart, any edge over the competitors is one worth exploring. A secret menu is something that restaurants, specifically fast-food and fast-casual dining restaurants, develop over time based on popularly requested alterations of their preexisting menu. Websites like Hack The Menu keep track of these creations for patrons who want to feel inside this loop. Kiley Libuit, creator of HackTheMenu.com, grew up mixing soda flavors at these fast-food restaurants, and quickly “realized you can order pretty much anything you want and as long as it’s reasonable, they’ll make it for you.” The Libuit family began asking employees at these restaurant chains what the most popular combinations and requests were and started their site.1

pickles, mustard-fried patty, extra spread and grilled onions. Other secret menu items include a “3x3”: three patties with three slices of cheese; and a burger “Protein Style”: wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun. Other popular restaurants with secret menu items are Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Arby’s, and the trend keeps growing. But with creative names like “McGangbang” (a McChicken placed in between a McDouble) and “Suicide Burger” (four beef patties, four slices of cheese, bacon and special sauce), it’s easy to see why many of these items stay off the actual menu.

Ultimately, dishes on the secret menu allow customers to feel like they’re in the know. They like flaunting their knowledge and showing off these dishes to their friends. It makes them feel like they are part of an exclusive club. When the customer is allowed to get whatever they want, they put their creativity to work. “Gen X has been told all their life that they’re unique. This is one way of enforcing that.”3 The secret menu could also prove useful for companies that would normally spend millions in research and development before presenting a new item on the menu.3

While some restaurants stick to the secret aspect that creates a sort of exclusivity and cult following, others want to pop up right on top of the trend and put their not-so-secret menu right on their website. In-N-Out Burger is one of the most famous restaurants to have a secret menu; in fact, they started the trend 20 years ago.2 Ordering your burger “Animal Style” means a standard In-N-Out burger with added

Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst, notes that restaurants will do any thing to set themselves apart from the competition. “Fast food is trying every way it can to compete. If they have the things available, if it’s not during a busy time, they’re going to accommodate that [request] because they want the customer to come back.”1 Since the customer is always right, why not get creative and have it your way? +

1 DEBBIE SIEGELBAUM, “SECRET MENUS: FAST FOOD ‘HACKS’ FOR IN-THE-KNOW CUSTOMERS,” BBC NEWS, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014. 2 MADISON UNRUH ,“11 RESTAURANTS THAT HAVE SECRET MENUS THAT ARE ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL…” FOOD ON ALLWOMENSTALK, DECEMBER 17, 2013. 3 TOVE DANOVICH, “SECRET BURGER MENUS, EXPLAINED,” EATER, APRIL 13, 2015.

Profile for ellipse magazine

Positive Negative Magazine Volume 9  

Positive/Negative Magazine is the result of a powerful collaboration between senior graphic designers and photographers in the College of Im...

Positive Negative Magazine Volume 9  

Positive/Negative Magazine is the result of a powerful collaboration between senior graphic designers and photographers in the College of Im...

Profile for posnegmag