MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’ve got a secret.
You may be missing out on some fabulous food simply because it’s nowhere to be found on the menu.
We talked to several Twin Cities restaurants, coffee houses and fast food chains that all boast off-menu items.
“People would see it and be like, ‘Ooo..What’s that?’ and (it) just kind of created a little buzz around the café, and around the concept as a whole,” said Marie Johnson, a general manager for Panera Bread.
The concept is to keep certain items a secret, for insiders only.
“The hidden power menu is how we termed it, so it’s technically an off-menu item. It’s not featured on any of our menu panels,” Johnson said.
At Panera, the off-menu items are extra healthy, and the only references you’ll see to Panera’s power menu are on social media.
Panera isn’t the only company hiding secrets.
Minnesota-based Caribou Coffee also has quite the extensive list of items you won’t find listed on a menu.
They’re drinks like: café miel, café milan, the black forest cooler and the hot apple blast.
Or remember the ever-popular honey almond latte?
“We could still give the honey almond latte,” said Connor Kelly, a Caribou Coffee manager. “A lot of (the off-menu items) are old promotional drinks that we used to carry, and they’ve been discontinued. But we still have all the ingredients to make them.”
And if coffee’s not your thing, fear not. Even fast food chains are known to keep a few secrets.
However, not every employee is in on all the lingo. We encountered some questions (and laughs) at fast food drive-thrus.
While there was some confusion at McDonald’s when I ordered the eight-patty “monster mac burger,” they were quick to deliver…but at a premium price.
So whether you like the concept of hidden or not, buzz is never a bad thing when it comes to marketing.
“Those ones that definitely know about it, definitely love it,” Johnson said.
Minnesota Monthly magazine recently polled readers for their votes on the best off-menu order. Uptown’s Dogwood Coffee Bar’s “Chocolate Gibraltar” came in number one. It’s a mocha espresso drink.
Hidden Menu Items
Panera: Comprehensive List
Caribou Coffee: Café Miel, Café Milan, Black Forest Cooler, Hot Apple Blast, Honey Almond Latte
Burger King: Vegetarian Whopper
Uptown’s Dogwood Coffee Bar’s: Chocolate Gibraltar (Mocha Espresso Drink)
Click here for a full list not included in story.