MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Did you know there are “secret menus” people are ordering from at a bunch of restaurants now?
They’re called “secret” because you won’t find these items listed on the menu boards.
Everybody likes to be in on a secret, and some companies realize it’s a way to make customers feel special.
“I would like to order the Power Chicken Hummus Bowl,” is what Vanessa Borge said at the counter at Panera.
It’s one of six items the restaurant has on a “hidden” menu.
“If you look around on social media, you’ll definitely see clues and little things mentioning it,” said Emily Lutz from Panera Bread. “But you won’t really see it on our main menu panels.”
Customers with Panera loyalty cards were told about the dishes, which all happen to have a theme of healthful eating. But for anyone without the cards, these dishes are a little bit of a secret.
At McDonald’s, ordered something that’s mentioned on various websites, but once again, not on the company’s menu.
“Hi. I would like order a Land, Sea and Air Burger,” said Borge.
The woman taking orders was a little thrown, but after he explained what it was, her manager came and took the order himself.
The sandwich is a Big Mac with fish from a Fillet-O-Fish and chicken from a McChicken Sandwich added to it.
It looks a little enormous when you pull it out of the box, but it actually is a big hit.
She also ordered another off the menu item, however that one was quite a mouthful.
“We got our Monster Mac, our eight patties on a Big Mac, because 4 are not enough,” said the manager.
So how does the Monster Mac taste?
“This is monster fattening. I don’t even know,” said Borge. “It tastes like a Big Mac, but with double the calories.”
So what’s the deal with these secret menus?
HackTheMenu.com is the website we found that may have the most extensive list of secret menus for various restaurants.
Bry Harvey is a student, and sure enough, she knew about the secret menus.
“Have you ordered some of these secret items?” Borge asked.
“No, I haven’t. I’ve actually been afraid to actually ask for them,” said Harvey.
But plenty of other people are ordering from them, and Business Professor Elaine Luther thinks this is good business.
“Because people love to be in the know and have some information that no one else has, they like to feel special,” said Luther.
A website called “Starbucks Secret Menu” lists everything from a Nutella Frappucino to a cake batter one, Borge ordered the Oreo Frappuccino.
He had to explain what it was, but once he did, they made it.
The Oreo Frappuccino has, java chips, vanilla bean Frappuccino and it is topped with cookie crumbles, something like a big, liquefied Oreo.
Whether it’s restaurants cooking up the ideas, such as Panera’s healthful “hidden” options, or customers creating dishes and posting them online, Luther said it’s a win-win.
“Sometimes the best ideas come from the customer, and they might have something they never even thought of, and the smartest businesses will react to that,” said Luther.
For dessert, one final stop, Dairy Queen, where once again she ordered a secret item.
“Could I get a Banana Split Blizzard?” Borge asked at the counter.
Without missing a beat, they made it for her.
Both Starbucks and McDonald’s responded when asked for comments about this, and both said their staffs try to make whatever combination of products customers ask for.