How Fast Food Restaurants Tempt You into Breaking New Year’s Resolutions

Naturally, restaurants launch some of their most tempting deals of the year in January, making it extra difficult to keep resolutions.

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Every January, people make resolutions to lose weight, stay away from fatty foods, and save money, all of which can be accomplished by staying away from restaurants—fast food and takeout restaurants in particular. Naturally, restaurants launch some of their most tempting deals at this time of year, making it extra difficult to keep those resolutions.

Toward the end of every calendar year, Americans splurge on holiday gifts and parties. Budgets and diets are temporarily banished, often with the idea that we’ll make amends to our financial statements and waistlines come January.

Accordingly, the start of every year tends to be a slow period for restaurants. Consumers pledge to cook more at home in hopes of improving their physical and financial well-being, and that often means staying away from restaurants—at least until they’ve forgotten about their resolutions. In what’s become an annual tradition, this is also the time of year that restaurants push people into blowing off their new year’s resolutions via a larger-than-average stream of deals, promotions, and new menu items.

(MORE: Fast Food: Spreading Like the Blob)

Actually, the fast food deal season probably begins just before the new year begins. It’s a period when shoppers are already trying to scale back on restaurant meals because so much of their budget is going toward holiday gifts, so restaurants feel compelled to woo diners with a range better-than-average promotions. Burger King, for instance, kicked off a buy one, get one free Whopper special toward the end of December 2012. All of December, meanwhile, was declared as “Customer Appreciation Month” by Subway, which offered select six-inch subs for $2.

It’s no coincidence that early in the new year of 2013 is when Wendy’s introduced its newly expanded value menu with items under $2, or when Taco Bell began testing a $1 “Cravings Menu” with three new items under $1.

Other restaurant deals currently in effect:

Baskin-Robbins is hosting a Buy One Get One Free Two-Scoop Sundae at participating stores every Wednesday through the end of March.

Burger King rolled out a new line of Chicken Nuggets just after New Year’s, with prices ranging from $1 (4-piece) to $4.29 (20-piece).

(MORE: Wendy’s Doubles Down on the Dollar Menu)

Denny’s has launched a limited-time “Complete Skillet Meal” special that includes three courses for $8.99.

Domino’s expanded its $5.99 each Value Meal Deal beyond two medium two-topping pizzas to include orders of penne pasta, stuffed cheesy breads, oven-baked sandwiches, and eight-piece chicken. Earlier in January, Domino’s was rewarding customers with $5 in Domino’s Dollars when they ordered two $5.99 apiece pizzas online.

Papa John’s knocks 50% off the usual price of large pizzas for orders placed online by January 23; use the promotional code PAPA50 when ordering. Previously in January, Papa John’s was throwing in an extra free pizza with any order of $12 or more.

Wing Zone just introduced a limited-time lineup of “Skinny Dippers,” which are unbreaded 100% white chicken breast pieces that are “flavor-fuzed” in a choice of 17 options, price from $3.99 (snack size) to $10.99 (full portion, 1 lb. of chicken). Interestingly, Wing Zone is presenting Skinny Dippers as a means for consumers to keep their New Year’s resolutions. “It looks like it’s a grilled item, so it’s got kind of the healthier halo,” Dan Corrigan, Wing Zone’s marketing manager, said, according to “So launching it at the beginning of the year when everyone’s got their New Year’s resolution—and for those looking to eat a better solution for you—it’s definitely better and healthier than our original and boneless wings.”