Panera Bread's secret menu: Fast food hidden menus gain popularity

Secret menu items at fast food restaurants are gaining attention. 

A secret menu item is often recommendations of food designers, employees or devoted patrons. 

In recent months the internet has seen a surge of rumors and reality over secret menus at various restaurants. 

Some companies are responding and even savoring the attention.

For years, fast-food chain In-N-Out claims it has offered secret menu items. 

The website suggests that it isn't a secret at all.  "It's just the way some of our customers like their burgers prepared, and we're all about making our customers happy," it says.

In-N-Out's website lists a few hush-hush menu options, including the "Double Meat," which has two beef patties with lettuce, tomato, spread and onions. 

The "4 x 4" has four beef patties and four slices of American cheese.

Panera Bread says it launched the Hidden Menu in New York City in November of 2012. 

Not very secret, as it has also been announced on the company's website. 

The company explains, "All of these meal selections are an excellent source of protein and contain limited processed carbs. But you won't find these items on banners in our cafes, or even on the menu board."

For breakfast, the hidden menu at Panera includes a Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey, which includes turkey, egg whites, warm spinach, roasted peppers and basil pesto. 

At lunch, a Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad includes chicken, spinach, romaine, tomatoes, apple-wood smoked bacon, eggs, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. 

The Power Steak Lettuce Wraps include seared top-sirloin, leaf lettuce, cucumbers, diced tomatoes and red onions, basil pesto and lemon juice.  

Interested to see what else is lurking behind the fast food menu?  Do some online searching, then give it a go the next time you order.

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