New York CNN
Men can't seem to stop thinking about Rome. Panera Bread's broccoli cheddar soup is a favorite among fans.
The chain is now selling a menu titled 'Roman Empire,' which is a playful response to the viral TikTok phenomenon. The menu items are not likely to be found at any Roman-era restaurants, but they are Panera's most iconic foods, which include macaroni and cheddar, cinnamon crunch bagels, and of course a Caesar Salad.
The 'Roman Empire trend' started a few months ago on social media. Women asked their husbands and boyfriends how frequently they thought about this legendary time period. A surprising number claimed to think about it daily or multiple times per week. Panera believes that the food on this menu is its most memorable.
Panera is one of many chain restaurants to have jumped on the TikTok trend to boost sales and public awareness. Panera understands that there are things you just can't get enough of.
The eight special items have been a staple since 1987, which is just a little older than the Roman Empire. This is a great way for chain restaurants to gain attention and attract (often younger) customers, without having to introduce a new item.
Popeyes offered a "girl dinner" menu in July. It consisted of various sides to make a complete meal. The #girldinner trend, which was a huge hit on TikTok and spread like wildfire, started with a post by Olivia Maher. It featured grapes, cornichons and bread, but not Cajun Rice.
The Cheesecake Factory offered a Caesar salad version last year that substituted grilled chicken with fried chicken and caramelized onions. This gave the TikTok famous 'Louisiana Chicken Caesar Salad" a place on their menus for several months.
McDonald's also briefly sold four menu "hacks" of its sandwiches in 2022 that were trending TikTok. The 'Land, Air and Sea" sandwich, which combined a Big Mac, a Filet-o-Fish, and chicken on a bun, was one example.
Dunkin' partnered in 2020 with TikTok's Charli D'Amelio to create an iced drink called "The Charli" for 2020. This gamble paid off. When Dunkin' launched the Charli campaign, it set a new record for active users of its app.