Although bee populations in the U.S. have faced unprecedented threats in recent years, honey production is up as more consumers and operators demand it. Compared with sugar, the syrupy sweetener has a health halo and according to the National Honey Board, 84 percent of operators said that customers care about the sweeteners used in their food.

Focus groups commissioned by the National Honey Board suggested that as with many other foods, consumers care about their honey being local more than a certain flavor profile. Many consumers and operators are still unaware that honey comes in a number of varietals—everything from alfalfa and clover to buckwheat and wildflower. And while full-service, fine-dining restaurants might lead the charge in creating unusual renditions of honey, quick serves are also paying more attention to the sweetener, which was named the flavor of the year by Swiss flavor and fragrance company Firmenich. Here are some brands that are using honey in unconventional ways:

  • Pizza Hut: Honey Sriracha pizza crust and sauce drizzles
  • Taco Bell: Chicken Biscuit Taco with Jalapeño Honey
  • Whataburger: Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit
  • Pei Wei: Honey Seared Chicken
  • Caribou Coffee: Ham & Swiss English Muffin with smoked honey maple ham
  • Einstein Bros.: Berry Goodness bagel, topped with a drizzle of honey
  • Krispy Kreme: Honey Bee Doughnuts (past LTO)
  • Caffébene: Four varieties of honey bread, including the savory Garlic & Cheese Honey Bread

By Nicole Duncan

Menu Innovations, News, Caffebene, Caribou Coffee, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Krispy Kreme, Pei Wei, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Whataburger