Hot Fast Food Deals: 50% Off Drink Specials, Loyalty Program Freebies, Limited-Time Menu Items

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Major fast food and coffeehouse chains are launching special discounts and promotions aimed to keep customers streaming in during the hot days and months ahead. Who says “happy hour” has to be limited to bars and restaurants that serve alcohol?

Here are a handful of the latest promotions at national restaurant chains:

50% Off Drink Specials
While alcohol is being sold at a couple dozen Starbucks locations, most of its coffee shops don’t offer booze. Nonetheless, Starbucks is hosting a new “Happy Hour” special: Now through May 13, all Frappuccinos are half off between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

(MORE: Why We’re Eating Fewer Happy Meals)

The half-off drink special at Sonic Drive-In, meanwhile, doesn’t start until 8 p.m. nightly: From that time until closing, all shakes are 50% off. The promotion lasts through the summer.

Limited-Time Menu Items
Limited-time foods spice up a restaurant’s menu, quite literally, and give customers an extra reason to swing by and have a snack or meal. Not only is it the variety that tempts diners, it’s the idea that anything “Available for a Limited Time Only!” is precious and ephemeral—something you don’t want to miss out on. The limited-time only strategy has worked extraordinarily well with foods like the McDonald’s McRib sandwich.

This summer, as the Associated Press reported, McDonald's offers two more limited-time only items, both of them appropriate for the summer: seasonal blueberry banana nut oatmeal and the frozen drink known as the Cherry Berry Chiller. McDonald's is hardly the only restaurant chain to play the limited-time only card. Another example is Arby’s, which is selling Fresh Pecan Chicken Salad sandwiches and wraps only through the end of May.

(MORE: Fast-Casual Nation: American Fast Food, Reinvented)

Loyalty Programs
While every supermarket and drugstore chain has a loyalty rewards program, the concept hasn’t really taken off with fast-food restaurants. Perhaps that’s because people don’t want to be reminded of how often they eat fast food. Nonetheless, White Castle has just launched “Craver Nation,” a loyalty program that rewards new “Craver” members with two free sliders. It’s not clear in the company’s press release about “Craver Nation” what sort of rewards will be available after the initial freebies. Here’s the sales spiel:

Cravers can create their own profile and post comments on the site. Fans also will be able to keep up-to-date anywhere they go with the Craver Nation mobile phone application. Cravers can earn points for FREE Sliders by completing certain tasks on the website

(MORE: McDonald’s Dollar Menu Shakeup: No More Fries and Drinks for $1)

Home Delivery
Burger King made big news earlier this year by introducing a home-delivery service for customers in the D.C. area, with vague plans to expand the program sometime in the future. Plans still aren’t nailed down, but new locations should be announced anytime now. BK recently announced on Twitter that home delivery “will be expanding soon.”

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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