How IHOP Chose Its Latest Menu Item, the French Toasted Donut

Bringing the brand's newest creation to life

IHOP is introducing some sweet new breakfast items. IHOP
Headshot of Katie Richards

Prepare for your mouth to water.

IHOP announced today that it’s rolling out a delicious new product–the French toasted donut. Did we mention it comes in three decadent flavors, including bacon and maple, strawberries and cream and apple fritter?

Consumers will start to see the product in locations nationwide beginning July 31 as part of a larger campaign, “What the French?”

“We really felt like we had the opportunity to be bolder in our product innovation and really push forward in the breakfast leadership space,” Alisa Gmelich, IHOP vp of marketing, said.

The brand’s very own chef Nevielle Panthaky came up with the recipes for the three different donuts and according to Gmelich, the chef and brand drew inspiration from many different places.

A few main sources of inspiration for the new product came from the consumers themselves and feedback the brand received on social channels. The final piece of the puzzle (outside of chef Nevielle) came from monitoring food trends.

“This is a delicious mash-up of the classic donut everyone knows and loves, dipped in a creamy vanilla batter, French toasted to a light golden brown and topped off with flavors such as maple glaze and hickory-smoked bacon. And who better to do it than IHOP, the brand that has owned all-day breakfast for almost six decades?”

IHOP unveiled three flavors for its French toasted donut: strawberries and cream, apple fritter and bacon and maple.

“We pay very close attention, especially in the breakfast space, to what is really going to resonate with our guests and what is going to motivate them to come in more often,” Gmelich added.

Another thing the team kept in mind was finding a nice balance of sweet and savory. Not necessarily with the treats themselves but with the rest of the menu. The donuts offer a super sweet choice for customers to pair with their savory meals.

To celebrate the launch, IHOP pulled together a massively integrated ad campaign. The campaign includes TV, social media, digital and even an activation in New York. That’s right, for the first time ever the brand is introducing the IHOP food truck in New York City. It will be on 5th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd on Aug. 4 between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. IHOP plans to post more about the food truck across its social channels including Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Added Gmelich: “We took a very different approach with this campaign than we’ve taken with any of our other promotions. Typically we decide on a theme and then carry that theme through on all the other mediums. This is one where we took more of a broader team and pan-agency approach and worked together more effectively to find different ways to communicate more effectively the idea of a French toasted donut.”

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.