The Age of Secret Menus


It used to be rare to find a restaurant or fast food restaurant with a secret menu. One that has been around for some time is the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger.

Now it is popping everywhere. Panera Bread released its secret menu a few days ago. All of the options don’t have bread. Panera wants to try a new, healthier menu and by creating a secret menu they avoided the costs of creating new paper menus and kept the wall menus simplified. According to an NPR interview, they believe it is a cheap way to test new products and some free PR.

But the real reason why secret menus work is because of a simple concept brought by Maslow. The need for belonging. We all want to belong to a group and a select group that knows about a “secret” menu is even better. It brings mystery and rituals to the process. Mystery and rituals in businesses make people connect and stay.

The brain cannot cope with unanswered questions so it wants to be around until it has all of the answers – and rituals keep us engaged. Note that McDonald’s has a great example of ritual in the menu. The Mc10:35 can only be ordered at you guess it, 10:35am.

Restaurants are unfolding their secret menus but any business can incorporate mystery and rituals in their process. We have an entire audio on this topic that you can get for free at

Here are a few other restaurants with a secret menu:

  • MCDonald’s has the Monster Burger and the McGangBang. not all stores are caring the secret menu at this point. The Mc10:35 is a special sandwich that can only be ordered for ten minutes each morning, during the changeover from McDonald’s breakfast menu to its standard menu at 10:35 a.m.
  • Chipotle’s has a secret menu with several options. The Quesarito is one of them.
  • Starbucks: Biscotti Frappuccino, the Cinnamon Roll Cappuccino, and the Captain Crunch Frappuccino and the Raspberry cream cheese cappuccino.
  • Taco Bell’s: Chili Cheese Burrito, Double Grilled Quesadillas, and the Enchirito, which is an enchilada stuffed with beef, beans, cheese, diced onions, and topped with red sauce.
  • Burger King: Suicide Burger, Frings.
  • Subway: Pizza. While the pizza sub used to be a staple on Subway’s regular menu, it was removed when the company began pushing its healthy eating initiatives.
  • Jamba Juice: Green Gummy Bear Smoothie