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McDonald's Menu Adds a New Twist on a Dessert Classic

McDonald's carefully treads between innovation and the classic comfort food its customers come back for time and again.

While some fast-food fans are all about trying the newest, weirdest thing at their chains of choice, others prefer the classics.

McDonald's  (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report knows this, and it carefully treads between innovation and the classic comfort food its customers come back for time and again.

Thanks to its prominence and market share, the chain can afford to take chances its competitors can't. But it prefers to make small moves within its established successes.

One of those is its ice cream, which, despite the not-so-mysterious history of its machines frequently being out of service, retains its cult-classic-dessert status.

Its biggest move to innovate the product was the national rollout of the McFlurry in 1998. That was simply a whipped version of the chain's classic vanilla soft serve with an airy texture. Topped with mix-ins like Mondelez's Oreos  (MDLZ) - Get Mondelez International Inc. Report and Mars's M&M's, the new dessert was an instant hit and remains on menus to this day.

All McDonald's has to do now to innovate on its creation is swap out toppings from time to time. That's a light lift compared with creating all-new items multiple times a year and hoping customers take to them.

One popular tactic McDonald's is happy to resort to is the limited-edition strategy to give its latest McFlurry a touch more magic. And its newest version is just that, so don't hesitate if you plan to give it a try.

What's McDonald's' Latest McFlurry Flavor?

Chocolatey Pretzel McFlurry Lead JS
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Lovers of salty-sweet flavors are going to love the newest member of the McFlurry family: the Chocolatey Pretzel McFlurry.

The dessert is drizzled with caramel and chocolate pretzel pieces, mixed into the reduced-fat soft-serve you know and love. 

And while the dessert is definitely on the indulgent size -- 670 calories for the regular size -- it certainly seems worth an extra workout or two to enjoy one. (The snack size is 490 calories if you're looking for something a little less intense.)

Like most limited-edition items, the Chocolatey Pretzel McFlurry will likely make a comeback if enough people clamor for it after it comes and goes. 

The best way to do this is on on social media. For example, so many people begged Yum Brands' (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report darling Taco Bell to bring back the Mexican Pizza that the chain actually did it (and with the help of Doja Cat and Dolly Parton, no less).

Making menu items limited-edition is such a successful tactic for fast-food chains that just about all the major ones employ it, both in and outside of the U.S. 

Restaurant Brands International's  (QSR) - Get Restaurant Brands International Inc. Report Burger King  is especially well-known for it, using it to great success in the Asian market and leading to big gains for the company overall.

This tactic also enables brands to test customers' reactions to an item, meaning they can rely on more buzz if they take it away or bring it back later (or, in Taco Bell's case, cause a huge uproar after removing an item that's been on its menu for 35 years).

That's why you're likely to keep seeing cult-favorite menu items come and go in the future.