20 Discontinued Fast Food Items That People Desperately Want Back
What would you do if your favorite order fell onto a growing list of discontinued fast food items? You can feel comforted in knowing that you’re probably not alone. Thousands of fast food enthusiasts have some practical solutions to that particular problem, after coping with their own beloved fast food items disappearing from their favorite menus. From Change.org petitions, to Twitter hashtags, to Facebook groups, and—judging from the level of enthusiasm—possibly even candlelit vigils, fast food devotees will stop at nothing to see these discontinued items returned to their favorite chains.
And not without success! Due to popular demand, McDonald’s recently brought back the beloved 1990s sensation, the McRib after a full decade off the menu. In fact, an episode of The Simpsons is dedicated to chasing the sandwich around the country, proving that it holds a special place as an icon of American culture.
But the McRib is far from the only long-lost fast food item consumers demand to return. From tasty miniature cinnamon buns to whopping, extra-extra-large tacos, almost everyone has that one treat they miss and secretly wish would make a comeback. Here are 20 Retired Fast Food Dishes That Have a Cult Following Today!
Pizza Hut’s Triple Decker Pizza
Certain things are objectively true: the sky is blue, 2+2=4, and pizza with more cheese is better. The good folks at Pizza Hut know this, which is why they stuffed as much cheese into this multi-layered pizza as they possibly could. Part of the late nineties boom of novelty fast food items, the Triple Decker secured a permanent place in customers’ hearts. Over twenty years after its launch, a Facebook fan page still pays homage to the legendary pie.
Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco
Do you like tacos? The answer to that question is surprisingly irrelevant to whether you’d like Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco. This foray into breakfast foods is a full diner breakfast wrapped in one convenient package. It was launched in 2014 and nixed in 2015 in favor of the Biscuit Taco, your run of the mill egg and sausage breakfast sandwich curved into a taco-shaped novelty biscuit. When the breakfast-savvy public realized that curving a biscuit doesn’t make it any tastier, they launched a full-fledged Change.org campaign to restore the Waffle Taco to the menu.
Chick-fil-A’s Spicy Chicken Biscuit
Fast food breakfast options, though tasty, are typically a snooze—eggs, cheese, bacon on a bakery item. So when Chick-fil-A unveiled the Spicy Chicken Biscuit it seemed both fitting and somehow revolutionary: a flaky, butter-laden biscuit with a mouth-watering, spicy filet of chicken inside. While the non-spicy version lives on, the spicy version was pulled from the menu in 2016. Its spirit still rattles around the internet, most notably in the form of Twitter account @Ghostofthespicy, a handle Chick-fil-A fans use to pay their respects to the dearly departed sandwich.
McDonald’s Arch Deluxe
Were you alive during the 1990s? Then surely you remember the craze that was the Arch Deluxe. McDonald’s threw $150 million at marketing its newest burger, which included a quarter-pound beef patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, peppered bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, on a sesame seed bun. If this sounds to you like a remix of the Big Mac theme song embedded in all of our brains, you’re not alone. Most people dismissed the Arch Deluxe a more expensive Big Mac and it proved to be one of the biggest marketing flops of all time. Yet others with more sensitive, refined fast food palettes declared the Arch Deluxe the greatest burger in history and were dismayed at its demise. Luckily, more than two decades later, they got their way (sort of) when McDonald’s unveiled the Archburger earlier this year.
Whataburger’s Steak Fajitas
This Texas-based chain has hundreds of locations, mostly across the South and Southwest. As the name would suggest, the restaurant is famous for its burgers, but there’s a hardcore fanbase out there who believed it should be renamed “Whatafajita,” until its legendary steak fajitas were discontinued in the early 2000s. As this guy so eloquently put it via a comment on Whataburger’s Facebook page, “Why’d y’all stop selling the beef fajitas?”
Taco Bell’s Cheesarito
The Cheesarito is a simple, inexpensive pleasure of cheese, scallions, and the delightfully vague “taco sauce” nestled in a soft tortilla. The South-of-the-border chain discontinued the Cheesarito but enthusiasts need not despair. As the truly sophisticated fast-food patron knows, there are no finer delicacies than those on Taco Bell’s “secret menu” where you can still find the glorious Cheesarito. Though for some folks, living in the shadows of the secret menu isn’t enough.
McDonald’s Fried Apple Pie
As customers increasingly expect healthier menu choices from restaurants, even fast food chains have jumped on the bandwagon. In response to public demand for more nutritious apple pies, McDonald’s replaced its crispy, delicious, fried crust with a much blander baked pie recipe. Though it’s slightly healthier, the difference doesn’t seem substantial enough to justify the swap: the fried version reportedly has 240 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 25 carbs, while the baked version has the same number of calories, 11 grams of fat, and 35 carbs. A petition to make apple pie fried again puts it like this: “McDonald’s, we know you’re not good for us, and you never will be. You found a way to make kale salad unhealthier than a Big Mac. You managed to cram six days’ worth of added sugar into your oatmeal. We know you will never succeed here.”
Burger King’s Chicken Tenders
Behold: the mysterious case of the retired chicken tenders that never were. A Facebook page titled “Bring Back Burger King’s Chicken Tenders” has thousands of likes along with many angry fans who derided the company’s attempt at replacing tenders with nuggets. In September 2018, Burger King announced that it would in fact be serving chicken tenders, seemingly caving to public pressure with an encore appearance. The only catch? They claim they’ve never served chicken tenders on the menu before, and have even created a series of commercials that plays on the false memory of the retired menu item.
Sonic’s French Toaster
Two massive slices of French toast, eggs, and bacon or sausage. This breakfast of champions was introduced in 2015 but, inexplicably, Sonic chose to replace it with the clearly inferior Breakfast Toaster. This sandwich removes the best part—French toast—and replaces it with Texas toast, losing the sweet-savory combo that devotees loved. But don’t listen to me; take it from a guy who drove 20 miles just to get one.
McDonald’s Chicken Nugget Szechuan Sauce
You may not be terribly concerned about what sauce you eat your McNuggets with, but there are at least 25,000 people out there that think you need to get your priorities straight. That’s the number of signatures on a Change.org petition devoted to bringing back the McDonald’s Szechuan sauce. For reference, roughly the same number of people rallied behind this petition for net neutrality, but who’s counting?
Burger King’s Cini-Minis
In the late nineties Burger King started an unlikely turf war with Cinnabon, introducing their response to the famous pastries with their own Cini-Minis. These were delectable, miniature rolls of sugary, gooey tastiness, and they were a hit among fans of the King. One Change.org petitioner’s pain is still very real: “Cini-Minis were a large part of my childhood and Burger King chicken-stripped them away from me like the jesters they are.”
Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets
Here’s an item with a following so devoted that Wendy’s wrote a heartfelt break-up letter to fans explaining why Spicy Chicken Nuggets were no longer available: “You wrote, called and tweeted us to voice your frustration. We do understand you’re hurting right now and no logic or reasoning will satisfy your desire to, once again, taste those little nuggets of spice and fire.”
But for the truly dedicated fan you can still pick up those little nuggets of spice and fire in seven select cities: Austin, Dallas, Waco, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison.
McDonald’s Salad Shakers
Fast food isn’t always about the taste—it’s about convenience and choice. That’s where the fans of McDonald’s Salad Shakers come in. Yes, this is an iceberg lettuce salad in a plastic cup, but there’s no accounting for taste so it has a Facebook group dedicated to bringing it back. Here’s the core of their argument: “This was a revolutionary way for the fast food giant to sell healthy, nutritious food in a convenient, portable way with almost no mess.”
Jack In The Box’s Cheesy Macaroni Bites
Cheesy Macaroni Bites were introduced to Jack In The Box’s menu in 2008 with advertisements that made the odd claim that, due to their compact triangular shape, it was a safer item to eat while driving. While literally no one has ever thought to eat regular macaroni and cheese while driving in the entire history of cars, these delightful little salt and fat bombs didn’t need decent advertising to become a cult favorite.
McDonald’s Beef Tallow Fries
While vegetarians rejoiced when McDonald’s switched from using beef fat to vegetable oil for their French fries, not everyone was pleased. As numerous sources have noted, it’s not your imagination that the fries tasted better when you were a kid. The switch in the early nineties still has people riled up more than twenty years later. The vegetable oil fries lack the savory flavor of old, but never fear—if you’re really committed, you can whip up a homemade batch of beef-fat-fried goodness.
Taco Bell’s XXL Chalupas
Introduced in 2010, this is a super-sized version of a classic Taco Bell menu item, featuring a fried flatbread stuffed with ground beef, taco sauce, and a mountain of cheese. There are still fans out there demanding its return who have called the new Double Chalupa nothing more than a false prophecy.
Burger King’s Crown-Shaped Nuggets
Crown-Shaped Nuggets are exactly what they sound like: chicken nuggets that are shaped like crowns advertised to grown-ups. We don’t have to like things for logical reasons, OK? But if you really need to analyze it, eating crown-shaped nuggets was the socially acceptable version of wearing the Burger King crown on your birthday as a kid, and don’t we all still deserve that feeling? They were available from 2006-2011, and are survived only by a very sincerely written petition seeking to “bring awareness” about returning these nuggets to the throne.
KFC’s Original Popcorn Chicken
Popcorn Chicken was huge in the late nineties because it cut to the core of why we love fried chicken—the fried part. Fans put pressure on KFC to bring back popcorn chicken, and KFC obliged in the form of Popcorn Nuggets, a slightly larger iteration of the original. Justice is served (at 620 calories per serving).
Wendy’s Frescata Sandwiches
Subway gained a massive market share and was at its height in the early 2000s. The story could’ve stopped there with a sandwich monopoly, but because spunky redheads are not known for backing down from a challenge, Wendy’s instead created their own line of deli-style sandwiches in response. Many people loved the Frescata sandwiches and remember them to this day. Unfortunately for those fans, Frescatas were discontinued just one year after their introduction in 2006 due to poor sales and long prep times.
KFC’s Double Down
Let’s say your job is “sandwich designer” and your job description is “person that creates new sandwiches,” but you’re also a Kanye-type and refuse to stifle your self-proclaimed genius, no matter what the public may say. In that case, you might replace your bread with two deep-fried chicken filets, fill it defiantly with only cheese and special sauce, then still have the nerve to advertise it as a “sandwich” knowing full-well what sandwiches look like. This is the [loosely interpreted] story of the KFC Double Down. It was the butt of many jokes when it was released, but its death was mourned by scores—so much so that it made a return for a limited time in 2014 due to popular demand, and many still carry a torch for the “sandwich” to this day.