IHOP is launching a cookie menu for the first time nationwide as the chain grapples with declining sales

IHOP's new range of biscuit sandwiches.

Source: IHOP

For the first time, IHOP is making its cookie menu available nationwide.

The Dine brands The chain, best known for its pancakes, has expanded into categories ranging from burritos to savory crepes after cutting its menu by a third in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus of the new menu items is primarily on attracting customers during the lunch and evening hours and attracting more take-out orders. IHOP has also brought back some old favorites, such as its Cinn-A-Stack pancakes.

However, the chain's menu strategy wasn't enough to offset consumers' cautious spending habits. In its most recent quarter, IHOP's same-store sales rose just 2.1%, despite higher menu prices compared to the prior-year period. Faring even worse was sister brand Applebee's, which reported a 1% decline in same-store sales over the same period.

Dine Brands' shares are down 25% this year, taking its market value down to $856 million.

Starting Monday, sales of IHOP — and Dine Brands stock — could be boosted by the cookie card. The chain has sold cookies in certain regions, such as the South, but decided to take the plunge and put them on menus nationwide.

The new range includes a buttermilk biscuit; a breakfast cookie sandwich with bacon, American cheese, cheese sauce, and eggs; a chicken and cookie sandwich with cucumber chips and country gravy; and a fresh strawberry and cream biscuit filled with cheesecake mousse, strawberries and syrup.

The breakfast cookie sandwich with your choice of side will be available through September 26 for $7 to appeal to price-conscious consumers.

Kieran Donahue, IHOP's chief marketing officer, told CNBC that consumer studies showed diners across the country would be interested in eating the chain's cookies.

“We wouldn't have put this on our menu if we didn't think it would have national appeal,” she said.

But first, the chain improved its cookie recipe. The result, according to Donahue, is a flaky cookie with a slightly crunchy surface.

Cookie sandwiches are gaining popularity among consumers, according to data from Datassential, a food and beverage market research company.

Chick-fil-A's nationwide expansion outside of its Southeastern stronghold has pushed the Southern breakfast staple further into the mainstream. When Wendy's When the company launched its breakfast nationwide in early 2020, biscuits served as the basis for its breakfast rolls alongside croissants and English muffins.

But cookies aren't as common on menus as they used to be. According to Datassential, they can be found in 11.8% of US restaurants, up from 14% in 2020. Although their availability has declined, cookies are growing in popularity as a side dish and appetizer, the company noted.

In line with this trend, IHOP has made its biscuit menu versatile. For example, the fresh strawberries and cream biscuits could be a sweet breakfast or dessert.

Donahue also said the chain made sure the cookies were also takeout-ready. More than a fifth of IHOP sales come from to-go orders.

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