Starbucks And Panera Will Now Put Real Pumpkin In Their Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Bad news for fans of fake chemical pumpkin flavoring — as it’s the time of year when we’re about to inundated with pumpkin spice everything — because when Starbucks and Panera Bread release their seasonal pumpkin beverages this fall, they’re going au naturale. Beginning September 9 at Panera and a TBD date at Starbucks, you’ll be able to order pumpkin lattes made with real pumpkin. Real pumpkin that grew out of the ground! What a time to be alive.

Starbucks Corp. said Monday its version of the concoction this year will be made with real pumpkin, and without caramel coloring. The change comes after blogger Vani Hari, known as the Food Babe, criticized Starbucks last year for the drink’s ingredients and its lack of transparency around the issue.

 Panera meanwhile, also said its pumpkin spice latte this year will be made “entirely without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.”

Panera is offering samples of their new pumpkin spice lattes in Seattle on Tuesday, right across the street from the original Starbucks location in Pike Place Market, which sounds like shots fired to me. How many casualties this pumpkin spice war will leave in its wake by the time December rolls around is anyone’s best guess.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants offers a list of the planet’s highest culinary talents, and for 2015 we’re privy to a new ranking celebrating the world’s finest gastronomic achievements. With a varied range of geographic locations, this year’s list brings us around the world with numerous continents and a wide range of countries represented. Created from the votes of The Diners Club® World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, the voters comprise of over 1,000 of the most influential individuals in the worldwide culinary scene, such as chefs, restaurateurs, food critics, writers and highly regarded “gastronomes.” Spain takes the cake this year, with seven restaurants represented in the top 50, along with the number 1 spot awarded to the reputable El Celler de Can Roca, which also took the top spot in 2013. Other notable culinary regions represented includes France, with five entries, as well as the United States, with six restaurants on the list in addition to one new entry. Head over to The World’s Best Restaurants to see the entire list of the world’s top culinary hotspots.

1. El Cellar De Can Roca – Girona, Spain
2. Osteria Francescana – Modena, Italy
3. Noma – Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Central – Lima, Peru
5. Eleven Madison Park – New York City, United States
6, Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
7. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – London, United Kingdom
8. Narisawa – Tokyo, Japan
9. D.O.M. – Sao Paolo, Brazil
10. Gaggan – Bangkok, Thailand

Pizza Hut is Bringing On Hot Dog Bites Pizza

In 2012, the Internet exploded with news that somewhere beyond the borders of America, in the great wide culinary world that so many of us yearn to visit, Pizza Hut had created something amazing: A pizza that featured straight-up hot dog bites in the crust. Unfortunately, Pizza Hut only made the pizza available in the U.K., which was good for American hearts but bad for the American spirit. Now, that’s all about to change.

According to Business Insider, the pizza — which features not only one topping (yay!), but 28 gourmet bites back into the crust — is coming to American shores in a little more than a week. Starting June 18, you’ll finally be able to taste what sausage, cheese and crust taste like all at once.

Supposedly, the pizza’s coming to boost the Hut’s (that’s what us cool people call it) lagging sales, but I refuse to believe that the same place that created and revolutionized the stuffed crust pizza is in any sort of trouble. This is just a gift from the pizza gods! Move over Frankenslice, your time in the sun is over!

Starbucks Introduces 6 New Frappuccino Flavors

So many choices, so little time.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the illustrious Frappuccino, Starbucks has release six new flavors: Cotton Candy, Caramel Cocoa Cluster, Lemon Bar, Cinnamon Roll, Red Velvet Cake and Cupcake.

The Cotton Candy and Lemon Bar flavors are coffee-free, for patrons out there who are cutting back on caffeine (while also amping up their sugar intake). The sweet additions will be sold nationwide starting on June 8th.

From June 19 through June 30, fans of the new flavors are encouraged to vote on their favorite new creation online. It’s not entirely clear how Caramel Cocoa Cluster is different from a regular Caramel Mocha Frapp, so our money is on the Cinnamon Roll.

The winner of the “Flav-off” will be announced on social media July 3rd. Customers will be able to purchase the winning flavor for a special price over July 4th weekend.

Until then, enjoy sipping on your sweet, liquid candy.

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Taco Bell Announces Plans to Sell Alcohol

Fast food chain Taco Bell announces plans to sell alcohol at its new location in the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago. Planned initially as a test run in order monitor how consumers react to the alcoholic additions, the new beverages consist of wine, beer, and mixed alcohol offerings as Taco Bell looks to redefine fast food dining. In addition, the chain plans to join other competitors, such as McDonald’s, in renovating its new stores by incorporating modern architecture and artwork from local artists in order to elevate the fast food dining experience. Stay tuned for further updates on Taco Bell’s plans to sell alcohol at its new locations in Florida the near future.

Taco Bell And Pizza Hut Are Removing All Artificial Ingredients From Their Menus

Things are certainly changing for Taco Bell and the entire Yum Brands family. Gone are the days of cheap food you apparently buy while drunk and open to poor decisions. Now there’s quality breakfast, big name brand partnerships, and the prospect of alcohol sold on premises. It’s a fresh new era for Taco Bell, a sentiment that’s soon to be taken literally.

By the end of the year, all Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants will ditch artificial colors and flavors in their foods. This is a move to combat restaurants like Chipotle which recently ditched GMOs according to Candice Choi at the AP, forcing Yum Brands to rethink their strategy:

Instead of “black pepper flavor,” for instance, Taco Bell will start using actual black pepper in its seasoned beef, says Liz Matthews, the chain’s chief food innovation officer.

The Mexican-style chain also says the artificial dye Yellow No. 6 will be removed from its nacho cheese, Blue No. 1 will be removed from its avocado ranch dressing and carmine, a bright pigment, will be removed from its red tortilla strips.

Matthews said some of the new recipes are being tested in select markets and should be in stores nationally by the end of the year.

Now it should be noted that this new initiative doesn’t affect their brand partners, Doritos and Mountain Dew. It’s a bit hard to capture Cool Ranch and Fiery without cutting some corners (allegedly). But the AP report notes that “artificial colors, artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and unsustainable palm oil” will be out of Taco Bell food by the end of the year, with Pizza Hut following by the end of July and including the new ingredients on their official web site.

It’s always risky when a major chain breaks from their traditional recipes and attempts something new. We can’t forget the debacles of New Coke and Crystal Pepsi. A change in taste can throw off the entire operation, so we can only assume that Taco Bell isn’t making this decision lightly. The AP also notes that chains like McDonald’s and Subway are doing the same, so the change is part of a larger wave.

Check in at your local Taco Bell and see if they’re testing the changes. It’s your duty to warn the rest of us before it happens nationally. Good luck.

Little Caesars App Allows You to “Bacon-Wrap” Your Twitter Timeline

Finally, the chance to escape the news nonsense, unsolicited observations and hashtags that take over your Twitter feed is here. When Little Caesars first introduced its bacon-wrapped deep-dish pizza, it seemed just a step away from full-blown bacon-wrapped ubiquity. Now, that step has been taken—by Little Caesars, naturally—as the company has unveiled its new Bacon Timeline app for Twitter.

Essentially, the app is just 42 images of sections of bacon that will appear in order on your timeline. The result is a replication of a 3.5 foot bacon strip stretched out for your scrolling pleasure. On the app’s webpage, there’s even a warning that reads, “If wrapping your timeline with forty-two image Tweets of a very long strip of bacon is not for you, then you should definitely not do this because that is exactly what happens when you use Bacon Timeline. If you think you can convince yourself, then you should convince yourself and quickly do Bacon Timeline before you change your mind.”

If you feel the need for 3.5 feet of bacon on your Twitter feed, you can get the app here.

Taco Bell’s New Biscuit Tacos Free On Cinco De Mayo

Taco Bell has announced it will give away free biscuit tacos on May 5, Tuesday, as a part of its new ad campaign called “Breakfast Defector Day.” The day also happens to fall on Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo.

Taco Bell will be giving away free biscuit tacos between breakfast hours, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., at all participating locations nationwide. Customers can choose the sausage biscuit taco or the bacon biscuit taco. There is only one free biscuit taco per person. Biscuit tacos are biscuits folded into a shape of taco and then filled with eggs, cheese and sausage or bacon.

Irvine, California-based Taco Bell is an American chain of fast-food restaurants and a subsidiary of Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM: Quote). Taco Bell serve a variety of Tex-Mex foods including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and a variety of “value menu” items. Taco Bell serves more than 2 billion customers each year in more than 6,500 restaurants, mostly in the U.S.

Starbucks’ First Express Format Store Streamlines the Cafe Experience

Opening on Wall Street is Starbucks‘ first express format store, which does away with extraneous spaces for sitting down and working or socializing, instead boiling down the Starbucks experience down to its most espresso-like form: you, the cashier, and the coffee. Only a miniscule 538 square feet, the new space was designed by the Starbucks in-house design team, with the interior clad in long wooden slats that guide you towards the cashier and kitchen at the back of the store, but not before being greeted by a staff member who first takes your order with a tablet device. Designed to have customers in and out of the store in the most efficient manner possible whilst maintaining an experience of high design, the store will act as a pilot project for four more express format stores slated to be opened in New York City within this year.

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