While Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Free Report's pumpkin spice latte has long ago carved out its spot in North American culture as "the" fall drink, the holiday season that inevitably follows autumn doesn't have a single flavor defining it.
Most chains will do some version of the peppermint mocha but also experiment with flavors like egg nog, caramel crème brulée, eggnog and the spices that go into mulled wine. Shake Shack (SHAK) - Get Free Report has a Christmas Cookie Shake with custard and sprinkles while Dunkin brought back the Cranberry Orange Muffin for its holiday menu.
Amid viral success in 2020 and 2021, McDonald's (MCD) - Get Free Report also brought back its holiday pie with vanilla custard filling and bright sprinkle topping for another round under the mistletoe this year.
For some, the holidays are all about peppermint while others cannot imagine it without the deeply vanilla taste of sugar cookies. And when all else fails, you can always add green and red sprinkles.
A Candy Cane McFlurry And A Bunch Of Other Things
This year, McDonald's added an entirely new dessert to its holiday menu. The Candy Cane Fudge McFlurry swirls the classic vanilla ice cream with hot chocolate fudge and pieces of candy cane.
"Take our smooth and creamy vanilla soft serve swirled with peppermint candy pieces and top it off with our decadent hot fudge," McDonald's says of the dessert packing a mere 670 calories.
The drink will be available at McDonald's Canada locations throughout the holiday season alongside returning classics like the Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate. The latter two are available in the U.S. while those wanting to try the new McFlurry will need to travel north of the border.
Two other desserts only available in Canada include the Festive Ginger Ronald McDonald House Cookie and the McCafe Creme Brulee Li'L Donut. McDonald's in the U.S. will have its own share of holiday-themed and regular desserts such as the aforementioned holiday pie as well as the apple fritter and blueberry muffin from McCafé.
The Evolution Of The Holiday Menu
Special holiday menus have long been a way for fast-food companies to tap into customers' festive sentiment, experiment with new items and generate that gotta-have-it-now feeling around items that are only available during a certain time of the year.
Yum! Brands (YUM) - Get Free Report-owned Kentucky Fried Chicken already had its Christmas Chicken Bucket while early McDonald's first holiday cups from the same time period now fetch a hefty sum on eBay (EBAY) - Get Free Report.
"You need consistency because that’s the brand mantra," Alexander Chernev, a marketing professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, told CNN in 2019. "But no matter how much you like something, consuming something different … increases the enjoyment of what you consumed before."
This year, McDonald's also launched its "SZN of Sharing" online holiday promotion that give those who place their online orders through the chain's app a chance to win free food and exclusive merchandise featuring retro characters like the Hamburglar hoodie.
A lucky three will also win the elusive McGold card that gets one free McDonald's food two times a week for the next fifty years. While this is the first time one can win the McGold, the online promotion has become a holiday tradition in its own right as McDonald's has been bringing it back every year since 2018.