Data Digest

  • Breakfast sandwiches are second only to eggs on the a.m. menu, with a 62% penetration.1 

  • 80% of consumers want to be able to choose what ingredients will be in their food.2 

  • Sriracha, garlic aioli, and quinoa all grew over 100% on breakfast menus in 2014.3  

  • Egg as an ingredient is up 7% on menus since 2010.4 

  • More than 1/3 of Millennials polled said they visit foodservice operations more often now than two years ago.5 
  • Protein is hot: the word “protein” now appears on 44% more menus than in 2010.6 


  1.   Datassential MenuTrends
  2.   Mintel, Dining Out: A 2014 Look Ahead
  3.   Datassential, MenuTrends Keynote Series: Breakfast 2014
  4.   Mintel Menu Insights
  5.   Technomic, Generational Consumer Trend Report
  6.   Datassential FoodBytes, December 2014




State of the Breakfast Menu

Sun Rises in the East

According to Technomic, 54 percent of Americans aged 18+ enjoy spicy food, up from 46 percent in 2009. Although Millennials fuel this trend, the overall American palate has become more adventurous. Hot sauce has found a home on more breakfast tables and consumers embrace breakfasts with hot smoked sausages, chorizo and spicy Asian flavors.

The Vietnamese bánh mì breakfast sandwich is one item that’s gained a following and can be found on a wide variety menus. The sandwich can be simple, as Austin’s Elizabeth Street Café version is with sambal, cilantro and jalapeño scrambled eggs and ginger pork sausage; be Americanized like the Vietnamese sausage, breakfast kimchi, fried egg, hot sauce and cream cheese on an everything bagel at Jack Flaps in Cleveland; or hew closely to authentic ingredients as the one at Myers + Chang in Boston is with soy-glazed bacon, two soft sunny side-up eggs, shredded pickled carrot and daikon, pickled jalapeños, cilantro sprigs and sriracha aioli.

The breakfast bánh mì appeals to Americans for a multilayered reason: it is spicy and exotic, yet the light, flavorful presentation is very approachable and satisfying.

Breakfast Bánh Mì (Food & Wine)



Heating Up Interest

A simple bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich is very nearly perfect. Savory, luxurious and creamy. Yet with breakfast’s continuing growth in both sales and locations, competition is increasingly tough. The solution is simple – just improve on perfection.

Giving diners something the competition doesn’t have can be done with small, inspired tweaks. One way to do that is to add heat, and Chicago’s Travelle does it elegantly. A fried egg sandwich: great. But Travelle’s Fried Egg Sandwich with smoked bacon, avocado and harissa aioli: sizzling. A mushroom omelet: comforting. But Travelle’s Mushroom Omelet with Fontina cheese and a mustard and mango relish called kasundi: intriguing.

Familiar favorites, tweaked: it’s what’s for breakfast.

Harissa, Avocado & Egg Toast with Goat Cheese

Harissa, Avocado & Egg Toast with Goat Cheese (



Care to Take a Dip?

Food for thought as operators introduce new flavorings to breakfast items: unfamiliar cuisines tend to be discovered in gustatory “snapshots.” A sambal schmear on a bagel or a side of kimchi with eggs are ways to test unknown waters before jumping in with both feet.

One dining technique that is likely part of most childhoods, is dipping foods into dressings and sauces. Kara Nielsen, culinary director at Sterling-Rice Group, confirms that people are brought up trying new foods through the use of condiments. “All these kids grew up dipping their chicken fingers and their baby vegetables in ranch dressing. They have a very long-standing relationship with dipping.”

In order to retain less adventurous diners but excite the bold ones, offering spicy new flavors as sides for dipping is a cautious way to begin evolving a menu.

Asian Sauces
Asian Sauces (



Practically Spicy

The allure of spicy sauces goes beyond the flavorful and goes straight to the practical for both the guest and the operator. Consumers are asking for lighter, more healthful meals with less sugar, salt and fat. The problem with that, as any food technologist or menu developer knows, is that sugar, salt and fat carry the flavor. Decreasing one will flatten flavors unless another one is increased.

But spiced sauces and condiments will perk up a dish that’s become bland through significantly lowered levels of the offending three, and do it with few calories and more pizzazz than the original dish. The added bonus is a newsworthy new dish on the breakfast menu.

Practically Spicy
Sauces and Marinade Samples



Industry Watchers Say…

“Spicy ingredients and terms have grown continuously on menus over the past decade – jalapeños and chipotle have become standard offerings while habanero and serrano are the newer go-to flavors.” Brian Darr, manager of custom research for Datassential

“Heat is more appealing as the day goes on. But adding heat to anything is trending positively. We already see the Tabasco sauce and ketchup on the breakfast table, so there is a lot of opportunity there.” Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic Inc.

Industry Experts



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Chain News

  • Denny’s: Rio Ranchero Skillet is breakfast sausage with two eggs, Pepper Jack, red-skinned potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, fire-roasted peppers and onions, jalapeños, pico de gallo and spicy five pepper sauce. (LTO)
  • Dunkin’ Donuts: Spicy Omelet Flatbread made with habanero, red bell peppers and diced jalapeños, topped with bacon and white cheddar on oven-toasted flatbread.
  • Taco John’s: Spicy Chorizo Breakfast Burrito with eggs, chorizo, jalapeños and spicy salsa.
  • Jack in the Box: Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito with scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, shredded Pepper Jack, cheddar sauce and creamy sriracha, served with fire roasted salsa.
  • McDonald’s: Chorizo Breakfast Burrito made with dark-meat chicken flavored with chorizo seasoning (paprika, chili and chipotle pepper), scrambled eggs, tomatoes, green chilies, onions and white cheddar. (Regional LTO)
  • Sonic: SuperSONIC® Breakfast Burrito includes scrambled eggs, melted cheddar, golden tots, diced onions, tomatoes and jalapeños.
  • Subway: any breakfast sandwich can be topped with sriracha sauce and/or jalapenos.

Taco John’s Spicy Chorizo Breakfast Burrito