New Menu Items to Look for at Chain Restaurants this January

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One common New Year’s resolution is to eat better. This often means choosing more healthy options — a salad instead of a cheeseburger, maybe, or a nice piece of grilled fish rather than a pepperoni pizza. 

With occasional exceptions, chain restaurants probably aren’t the first places people should head to when trying to keep their dietary promises to themselves. There are too many temptations, too many calorie-rich elaborations of already extravagant foods. And while you might think that chains would capitalize on eat-better resolutions by offering a few low-cal options, at least for the first month or so of the year, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

To compile a list of new items appearing on chain menus this month, 24/7 Tempo continued its regular reviews of Menu Tracker, a column published weekly by Nation’s Restaurant News, a leading national restaurant trade publication. Reported by Bret Thorn, NRN’s senior food and beverage editor, the column showcases new additions to menus at a wide range of restaurant chains around the U.S. (many of them among the most successful restaurant chains in America).

While a couple of plant-based meat possibilities appear on the list (including Beyond Fried Chicken at KFC — what would The Colonel say?), most of the other items won’t do January dieters any favors. Spicy Cheesy Bacon Half-Pounder? Prime rib tips omelet? Gingerbread milkshake? Well, why not? It’ll be February and back to normal before you know it. (Speaking of half-pounders, these are the best burgers you can get at a fast food restaurant.)