The arrival of February and quickly approaching Valentine's Day holiday means menus are once again spotlighting creative limited-time offers.
According to a recent survey by Restaurant.com, three out of four respondents (75 percent) indicated they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day with a meal at a restaurant this year. Additionally, 64 percent state they will spend more money on Valentine's Day than on a typical dining occasion.
From heart-shaped pizzas to chocolate covered strawberry cakes, the limited-service space is hoping to generate extra traffic and higher tickets as well. Here's a rundown of brands turning up the heat this Valentine's Day.
Pretzelmaker has launched a new heart pretzel. It is shaped like a heart and is sprinkled with red and white salt.
Papa John's is delivering its heart-shaped pizzas again this year.
Papa Murphy's stores have also brought back the brand's HeartBaker pizza.
The Great American Cookie Co. is giving away six free cookies to those who pre-order and pre-pay for a 14-inch cookie cake or larger by Feb. 7. The cookie cake must be picked up Feb. 13 or 14 to redeem the offer.
Cold Stone Creamery is now promoting its Brownie Batter Love Connection Ice Cream cake and Brownie Batter Connection ice cream, as well as a chocolate covered strawberry cake.
Baskin-Robbins has introduced "Bundle of Love" as its February Flavor of the Month, featuring chocolate ice cream swirled with chocolate-flavored candies and hearts and raspberry filling. The brand is also currently pushing its new Conversation Heart Cakes. They are adorned with rainbow sprinkles and feature one of three messages: "Love You," "Kiss Me" or "Be Mine." They can also include a personalized message. The cakes can be shared with two to four people and have a suggested retail price of $14.29.
"This Valentine's Day, we're sharing our passion for ice cream with our guests and offering them a sweet line-up of romantic products that can be enjoyed with their loved ones," said Stan Frankenthaler, Baskin-Robbins executive chef and vice president of Innovation at parent company Dunkin' Brands.
Tim Horton's has a Valentine Donut available at participating restaurants for a limited time.
The Dairy Queen system has brought back Choco Covered Strawberry ice cream and is serving heart-shaped cakes in time for Valentine's Day.
Yogurt Mountain is promoting heart health with its new romantic flavors lineup. The promotion runs through Feb. 17 and supports the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign. Customers are encouraged to donate to the AHA during this promotion, and will be given the option to personalize a card to display in the store.
"Yogurt Mountain's Valentine-themed promotion is dedicated to raising awareness about cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer of women age 20 and over," said David Kahn, president and founder of Yogurt Mountain. "By joining together, customers can help Yogurt Mountain's efforts to raise donations for support of the AHA."
Yogurt Mountain is featuring specialty flavors in celebration of Valentine's Day, including dark chocolate truffle, chocolate covered strawberry and crème brûlée yogurts.
Dunkin' Donuts has brought back its heart-shaped donuts, including the Cupid's Choice donut and the new brownie batter donut. Cupid's Choice is a heart-shaped donut filled with Bavarian Kreme, topped with strawberry flavored icing and a mix of pink, white and red heart-shaped sprinkles. The brownie batter donut is a heart-shaped donut filled with chocolate brownie batter filling, topped with chocolate icing and white sprinkles. Both are available through the end of February.
Additionally, Dunkin' Donuts has a new lineup of dark chocolate mocha beverages, including dark chocolate mocha coffee and dark chocolate mocha latte, both available hot or iced.
White Castle is taking reservations for its annual Valentine's Day romantic dinner, which includes table-side service and themed decorations.
Krispy Kreme sprinkled heart, Valentine sprinkles and chocolate iced heart doughnuts are available now through Feb. 14 at participating U.S. and Canadian locations. Purchase a dozen Valentine doughnuts and get a dozen Valentine cards each good for a free doughnut of your choice.
Doughnuts are "the perfect gift for someone special," said Ron Rupocinski, Krispy Kreme corporate chef. Guests can also share their heart online with a Krispy Kreme Valentine e-card and the Share Your Heart Facebook Cover Photo App.
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Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.