How often do you think about the Roman Empire? If you’re a man, the answer is probably a lot—at least according to a recent viral trend. Videos of men revealing that they think about the Roman Empire as often as every day have been racking up millions of views on TikTok. Now, Panera Bread is jumping on the trend too, with a new menu of fan-favorite items that customers “just can’t stop thinking about,” in the chain’s own words.
That’s right! Panera just launched a new “Roman Empire Menu” that features eight items. To be clear, none of the items included on the menu are brand-new. But Drayton Martin, senior vice president of brand building at Panera, said that these items are all iconic fan favorites that guests keep coming back for. The menu includes Panera’s top-selling soup, Broccoli Cheddar, as well as the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel, Toasted Frontega Chicken Sandwich, and two types of Caesar salads.
“When we saw the Roman Empire trend take off on TikTok, we knew we had to jump in,” Martin said in a statement shared with Eat This, Not That! “Our iconic favorites are touchstones for our guests that spur all kinds of passionate conversations – Broccoli Cheddar Soup, the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel, the Frontega Chicken Sandwich, and more. We decided to quickly (and very quickly, as in less than 24 hours we had the menu on our site) jump in on the conversation with the introduction of our Roman Empire menu—our take on all the favorites you can’t stop thinking about. And of course – the Caesar Salad just had to be part of it.”
Panera is only the latest major fast-food chain to try to cash in on a viral social media moment in 2023. Over the summer, another trend dubbed “girl dinner” exploded on TikTok as women showcased the random bits of food they would pull together for a low-effort and informal yet tasty dinner (think pickles, cheese, popcorn, and chicken nuggets thrown together on one plate). Popeyes jumped on the trend by launching its very own “girl dinner” menu in July.
Like Panera, Popeyes’s menu didn’t include brand-new items, but instead a hodgepodge of existing sides that customers could pair together to craft their meal. It included staples like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, Cajun fries, coleslaw, biscuits, and red beans with rice, according to CNN.