KANSAS CITY — From the new Breakfast Cannoli at Piccione Pastry in St. Louis to the Cinnamon Roll Waffle at Press Waffle Co. in Dallas, successful new product innovations in the food service sector are leaning toward the sweet side. Consider that McDonald’s made national headlines with the rollout of Donut Sticks in February, and you can see that it’s time to explore “sweet” ways to drive higher traffic into your stores during the breakfast hours.

In honor of its sixth anniversary, Piccione Pastry unveiled one-of-a-kind line of breakfast treats, including Breakfast Cannoli. Starting April 23, Piccione Pastry began offering six sweet and savory breakfast items, including two flavors of Breakfast Cannoli inspired by two popular cereals — Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Fruit Loops. Piccione’s cannoli cream is infused with cereal milk and topped with cereal bits. The two flavors will change monthly.

“Our convenient location in the Loop makes us an ideal stop for the morning crowd,” said Colleen McBryan, executive pastry chef at Piccione Pastry.

Waffles, the nontraditional kind, are another breakfast item gaining popularity in various parts of the country.

Press Waffle Co., which gained a sizeable investment for national expansion following an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, has fused two popular breakfast foods, cinnamon roll and waffle, into the new Cinnamon Roll Waffle — a Leige waffle topped with gooey cinnamon glaze and cream cheese frosting.

With three locations in Texas, Press Waffles specializes in Liege waffles made with dough instead of batter, giving them a brioche-like texture, and sweetened with pearl sugar. 

Similarly, another retailer, Le Waf uses yeasted dough instead of batter to make its brioche-style waffles and folds pearl sugar into the dough to create a caramelized, crunchy texture. Euro Snack was created in Monterey, Calif., where the company first offered freshly baked Le Waf waffles out of a pushcart at a farmer’s market. Since 2004, Euro Snack has operated a dozen retail locations around Lake Tahoe, where the company serves the popular Le Waf artisan waffles.

“For the past two years, I’ve really seen an uptick in waffle popularity," said Michel Chalon, founder of Le Waf. "People know the product, they travel a lot, they go online, they call each other, and it has become more known."

Driven by the urge to revamp its breakfast menu, McDonald’s launched Donut Sticks in February. But Dunkin’ started the donut-wars battle in 2018 by launching convenient Donut Fries as a limited-edition item. Even if Dunkin’s fries had a short shelf life, according to social media analytics firm Talkwalker, their social media impact was significant during the launch months. Massive paid influencer support generated impressive traffic for the product launch, while McDonald's Donut Sticks are until now less present on social media. Dunkin’s Donut Fries generated 25,900 mentions and a strong 708,000 engagements in the past 13 months, according to Talkwalker, while McDonald’s recently launched Donut Fries grossed only 9,900 mentions but strong 306,200 engagements.