Spring flavors now trending: Cherries, hot sauces and unicorns?

| by Cherryh Cansler
Spring flavors now trending: Cherries, hot sauces and unicorns?

Menus across the globe are featuring a few spring trends this season, including ethnic flavors, fresh fruits and veggies and innovative sauces. Starbucks has really gone for an out-of-the-box offering, however, with its Unicorn Frappuccino, available today through Sunday, April 23.

Made with a dusting of pink powder blended into a creme Frappuccino with mango syrup and layered with a sour blue drizzle, the Unicorn is finished with vanilla whipped cream and a sprinkle of sweet pink and sour blue powder topping, according to a company press release.

Like its mythical namesake, the Unicorn Frappuccino-blended creme comes with a bit of magic, starting as a purple beverage with swirls of blue and a first taste that is sweet and fruity. But give it a stir and its color changes to pink, and the flavor evolves to tangy and tart. The more swirl, the more the beverage's color and flavors transform, according to the company.

Below are just a few others LTOs that we found. They are unicorn free, however. 

Check out my Cheeto fingers

Tom+Chee is transforming its grilled cheese sandwiches, melts, and donuts, crusting its menu items with crushed Cheetos Crunchy Flamin' Hot cheese flavored Snacks.

"Teaming up with the Cheetos Brand has been a great experience and we’re thankful for their support of our culinary creativity," said Co-founder Corey Ward. "We've taken the flavors and really infused them into our brand by taking our entire menu and letting customers add Cheetos Flamin' Hot crust to anything. If you're a fan of our Grilled Mac+Chee, crust it with Cheetos Flamin' Hot, and we'll swap the fried onions out with more Cheetos Our Grilled Cheese Donut? We'll crust that, too. There really are no limits to what we'll crust. "

East meets West

Bruegger's Bagels is spicing up its spring menu by incorporating Korean flavors into the menu. Offerings include:

Bruegger'sBagles' spring offerings
  • Seoul Sunrise Egg Sandwich, made with a fresh, cracked egg, pork sausage, red and green peppers and Korean chili sauce, made from mayo and a spicy Korean condiment known as gochujang, on a sesame bagel. Gochujang, a chili paste, is being hailed as "the next Sriracha" for its recent and rapid rise on U.S. menus.
  • Touch of Seoul Sandwich, made with ham, Swiss, sliced cucumbers and red peppers on butter-toasted sourdough bread.
  • Returning spring options include Sea Salt & Caramel Coffee, Vermont Cucumber Dill cream cheese and the Ranch bagel.

"We continually seek to bring on-trend new flavors to our limited-time menus so our guests always have interesting options to explore," said Vice President of Marketing Judy Kadylak in a news release. "Our new Korean chili sauce adds a unique Asian twist, while annual favorites like Cucumber Dill cream cheese offer a taste of springtime."

The spring menu will be available at all Bruegger's Bagels locations through June 13.

Getting hot 

Pie Five's spring concoction is the Pie-Ferno Pizza, which features spicy Sriracha marinara, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, pepperoni and banana peppers, topped off with jalapenos and crushed red peppers, according to a company press release.

The Pie-Ferno Pizza is available until May 14.

"Our new Pie-Ferno Pizza is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you crave the fire, you'll absolutely love it," said Patty Scheibmeir, VP of R&D and product innovation for Pie Five Pizza Co. in a news release. "The bold mix of tangy Sriracha, along with the heat of banana peppers, jalapenos and red peppers, make this pizza perfect for the heat seeker. It's one of the boldest recipes you'll ever find in a pizza."

Getting hotter

Tijuana Flats has added a bundle of spices to its Hot Bar with the creation of two new sauces —  MoFo'en Insane and Sissy. MoFo'en Insane is made with the world's hottest pepper — the Carolina Reaper — while Sissy, made with a green chili garlic sauce, is a little less intense, according to a company press release.

"Hot sauce is at the core of our brand, and we are constantly striving to think of new and innovative sauces to bring to the table," said Larry Ryback, CEO of Tijuana Flats. "It can be argued that TijuanaFlats is home to some of the hottest sauces in the world, so we are particularly excited anytime we can live up to our reputation. The MoFo'en Insane definitely ups the ante for us and our guests."

MoFo'en Insane and Sissy are available for purchase in a two-pack set at all Tijuana Flats locations.

Lightening up

Guests interested in lighter fare may order Zaxby's spring LTO, a Grilled Cobb Zalad, served with Lite Ranch Dressing, veggies, cheese, a hard-boiled egg and chicken, according to a company press release.

Guests can also order the chain's exclusive Coca-Cola Freestyle drink — the Berry Breezy Lemon Squeezy —  which combines raspberry, ginger citrus and "another secret flavor," said Stephanie Gamble, vice president of Menu Innovation at Zaxby's in a news release. "Our Grilled Cobb Zalad is loaded with flavor and pairs well with our new Berry Breezy Lemon Squeezy beverage for the perfect spring dining experience."

The LTOs are available through June.

Black cherry, anyone?

McAlister's Deli is celebrating springtime black cherries in each LTO. Options include: 

  • Black Cherry Spinach Salad features spinach topped with grilled chicken, bacon, dried cherries, gorgonzola, candied pecans, house-made balsamic red onions and black cherry vinaigrette. 
  • Garden Fresh Black Cherry & Ham Sandwich has Black Forest ham and Swiss with spinach, house-made balsamic red onions and black cherry honey mustard, made from McAlister's Signature Honey Mustard.
  • Pure Cane Sugar Lemonade is sweetened with Pure Cane Sugar Lemonade and topped off with black cherry puree.
    McAlister's Black Cherry Spinach Salad

Mixing it up

PJ's Coffee has created three Spring Mixers, which are now available through August.

Flavors include: 

  • Honey Mango Tea Mixer
  • Sparkling Elderflower Tea Mixer
  • Sparkling Cucumber Mint Lemonade Mixer

What's a Chimichurri burger?

Colorado-based Larkburger has created a Chimichurri Bacon Cheeseburger, featuring Black Angus beef, house-made chimichurri sauce, along with pepper Jack cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, house-ripened tomato, green leaf lettuce, purple onion, house sauce, arugula and jalapenos.

"We were inspired to create a chimichurri burger based on how the sauce's bright, vegetable flavor pairs so well with our signature 100 percent Black Angus beef," said Tony Friel, culinary director at Larkburger, in a news release. "Originally from Argentina, chimichurri is a blend of fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Typically reserved for steak, we were excited at how well our chimichurri recipe complemented our high-quality beef. We can't wait for our guests to try it,"

Getting 'healthy-ish'

Au Bon Pain's spring menu features a "healthy-ish way of life, helping food lovers feel good about the food they eat without ever sacrificing flavor," according to a company press release.

Options include:

  • Sprouted Grain Roll is made with sprouted wheat, sunflower, flax seeds, honey and molasses.This bread is a great source of fiber and contributing antioxidants that assist in metabolism, immune and heart functions.
  • The Signature Farmhouse Omelet has freshly cracked eggs, whisked and cooked into an omelet with an herb blend of parsley, chives, smoked paprika and roasted onions, topped with hardwood-smoked bacon and melted cheddar cheese.
  • Turkey Swiss BLT includes Swiss cheese, hardwood smoked bacon, fresh tomatoes, field greens and mayo.
  • Strawberry Bon Tart is a hand-held toasted pastry filled with strawberry preserves and topped with vanilla icing and sprinkled with rainbow nonpareils.

Protein up

Juice It Up has created the Protein Acai Bowl, a blend of organic Sambazon açaí, banana, soy milk, nonfat frozen yogurt, peanut butter and protein powder, topped with bananas, organic granola, peanuts and a drizzle of honey, according to a company press release.

"We're excited to launch our first ever protein-packed peanut butter and açaí blend! What may seem like an unlikely pair complement one another very well when combined in perfect proportions," said Frank Easterbrook, Juice It Up's president and CEO in a news release. "Made with organic and fair trade açaí, the new protein bowl is perfect for guests looking for delicious ways to increase their protein intake with healthy meal replacements."


La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe is taking guests on a journey through the south of France with its Provence-inspired menu celebrating the culture of the region.

"Provence is known for its small villages, outdoor markets, fragrant herbs, fresh vegetables, lemon and olive trees, and joyful, slower pace of life," said Susan Dederen, La Madeleine's vice president of culinary operations. "We want to bring that 'joie de vivre' to our guests at la Madeleine, where they can enjoy delicious, seasonal dishes with family and friends while relaxing on our sunny patios, in our welcoming dining rooms or even with to-go meals to eat at home or in the office."

Options include:

  • Provençal Vegetable Soupe: Potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash in a vegetable pesto broth.
  • Mediterranean Salade: Grape tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, artichokes, green onions and romaine tossed in Caesar dressing, topped with balsamic-marinated chicken, tzatziki sauce and feta cheese.
  • Mediterranean Chicken & Feta Sandwich: Balsamic-marinated chicken, feta cheese and roasted red pepper hummus toasted on a French baguette with Roma tomatoes, lettuce and creamy tzatziki sauce.
  • Provençal Chicken & Rice Bowl: Balsamic-marinated chicken, roasted tomatoes, artichokes, olives and basil pesto baked en papillote (in a packet), served on a bed of Rice Provençal and topped with creamy tzatziki sauce and feta cheese
  • Lemon harvest: The bakery is featuring a collection of handmade-daily lemon pâtisserie, including Lemon Cream Cake, Lemon White Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Lemon Tarts and its namesake Lemon Madeleines.

The seasonal menu is available through early fall.

Keeping it in the family

Yogurtland has created five scratch-made flavors inspired by home recipes, according to a company press release. Available through June 4, the flavors include:

  • Grandma's Famous Marionberry Pie combines Marion blackberry with sweet shortbread cookie. 
  • Momma's Secret Recipe Almond Fudge Gelato pairs fudge notes and almonds.
  • Blue Ribbon Pineapple Upside Down Cake has caramelized pineapple flavors and buttery, dense cake notes.
  • Spring's Simply Sweet Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares is a no-sugar-added dessert with peanut butter and marshmallow flavor.
  • Pairings and Sharings Strawberry Basil Lemonade Sorbet combines two varieties of sweet strawberries and tangy lemon. Real basil and hints of mint add a cooling freshness.

Taco Time

Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill has created three artisanal tacos available April 27-May 31, according to a company press release. They include: 

  • Slow-Roasted Pork tacos feature natural-raised and lean pork with pineapple citrus marinade. Served with house-made jicama-cabbage-carrot slaw that is lightly flavored with a chipotle crema.
  • Steak and Arugula have grilled Angus steak, arugula, fontina cheese, avocado salsa, pickled red onion and cotija cheese garnish.
  • The Roque Shrimp Taco is named after Jose Roque, Sharky's Northridge general manager, and has marinated and grilled shrimp, with a house-made jicama-cabbage-carrot slaw that is lightly flavored with chipotle crema and pineapple.

"At Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill, we're developing new recipes that highlight the rich and diverse flavors of Mexico and combining quality ingredients in innovative ways to surprise and delight our guests," said Steven Paperno, founder and CEO, Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill. "Our new trio of Fiesta de Mayo tacos showcases contemporary yet familiar tastes of Mexico. It's best our guests hurry in before (the LTOs) leave the menu at the end of May."

The tacos can be ordered individually, or as a platter of two with organic whole grain Poblano brown rice or organic long-grain Mexican-style white rice and organic black or pinto beans made without lard.

Sharky's will host a Taco Showdown during Fiesta de Mayo, offering 20 guests the chance to win $25 in Sharky's Bucks. Guests simply cast their votes for their favorite new taco on the brand's Facebook or Instagram pages by May 31, 2107. The winning taco may find a permanent home on Sharky's menu.

The brand was founded in 1992 and now has 27 restaurants in Southern California, Oregon and Nevada.








Topics: Food & Beverage, Franchising & Growth, Health & Nutrition

Cherryh Cansler

Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group's nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she's written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for

wwwView Cherryh Cansler's profile on LinkedIn

Sponsored Links:

Related Content

Latest Content

Get the latest news & insights





Franchise focus: Smoke’s Poutinerie bringing poutine to the masses