By Brad Tuttle
January 4, 2017

If you’re like the typical American, you ate too much and spent too much over the last few weeks. So, even more so than usual, you’re probably trying to stay away from fast food. Too bad: Cheap chain restaurant deals and gluttonous all-you-can-eat promotions have never been more tempting.

Why are there so many compelling fast food deals on the table right now? January, you see, always tends to be a peak month for fast food promotions.

Basically, the overabundance of promotions is the business response to the natural tendency among consumers to shy away from fast food at the beginning of the year. It’s cold, for one thing, and frigid days mean that people stay home more and dine out less. January also marks the start of new year’s resolutions, when many people are trying to spend less money, eat less food that’s bad for them, or both.

As a counteroffensive to consumer will power, fast food marketers—diabolical geniuses that they are—regularly roll out enticing deals at this time of year. Here’s a sampling of potentially resolution-busting bargains available lately.

ALL YOU CAN EAT

From January 2 to February 12, IHOP is bringing all-you-can-eat pancakes back to the menu at participating locations. Prices vary depending on location, but should be in the neighborhood of the going rate at Denny’s, which has all-you-can-eat pancakes for $4.

If you were wondering, yes, IHOP’s all-you-can-eat pancakes deal regularly shows up in January. A year ago, IHOP even declared the promotion would help customers “achieve their New Year’s resolution – to eat as many of IHOP restaurants’ world famous, freshly made for you buttermilk pancakes as often as they wish, any time of day.”

LOW-PRICE DEALS

Pizza Hut, as we noted earlier, is discounting all pizzas by 50% now through January 9 for orders placed online or through the mobile app. “With this quick and easy offer, we’re making sure Pizza Hut fans can enjoy the pizza they love without breaking the bank,” David Timm, Pizza Hut’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement announcing the deal.

Beyond combatting the post-holiday lull, Pizza Hut may be motivated to push deep discounting in order to keep pace with competitor Domino’s, which has been made a $7.99 three-topping large pizza deal available seven days a week since last summer. Another pizza player, Papa John’s, is charging only $8 each when you order two large two-topping pizzas, now through January 29 (enter code P1TLG when ordering online).

There are also a few tempting $l fast deals around this month: Pretzelmaker is selling pretzels for $1 ($2 off the regular price) every Tuesday in January; Hot Dog on a Stick offers its namesake menu item for $1, also on every Tuesday in January; and Sonic Drive-In has chili cheese Coney dogs available for $1 apiece every day throughout the month. Meanwhile, Taco Bell recently boosted its $1 Cravings Menu with the limited-time introduction of Double Stacked Tacos for $1 each.

It wouldn’t be a true restaurant trend without a burger in there somewhere. Dairy Queen fits the bill, by adding the Deluxe Bacon Cheeseburger as the main item in a new Five Buck Lunch option good in January. Normally, customers can only select among the regular cheeseburger (no bacon) or a three-piece chicken strip for the Five Buck Lunch, which comes with a fountain drink and a sundae for only $5.

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