Fast-Food Items Overdue for a Comeback

Fast Food Needing a Comeback

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Taco Bell

Junked Food

It's happening — again. Taco Bell's popular Mexican Pizza came back for the second time in 2022. Fans ate the fast-food chain out of the item in only a few weeks when it was first brought back in May of that year.

Made with seasoned beef, beans, pizza sauce, cheese, and tomatoes layered between two crispy flour tortillas, the stacked taco-pizza hybrid can be ordered without meat, making it a tasty option for vegetarians. The Mexican Pizza is one fast-food item we're happy to see return, but there are even more that we're still rooting for. (We're talking to you, McDonald's snack wrap.)

Related: The Best Fast Food Deals to Grab This Month

Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza
Taco Bell

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

The Mexican Pizza is came back to Taco Bell in 2022. The beloved menu item was axed during the pandemic, then brought back in May 2022 after droves of fans demanded its return. But Taco Bell underestimated the demand — seven times higher than before — and sold out within weeks because of supply issues. The fast-food chain says the popular item is now permanently back on its menu, and the supply issues have been resolved

Related: Live Más: Spicy Secrets Behind Taco Bell's Success

Panera Bread Toasted Frontega Chicken
Panera Bread

Panera Toasted Frontega Chicken

It only took a few months for Panera to reverse course on its cult-favorite Frontega Chicken sandwich. After the bakery-cafe chain cut it from the menu earlier this year, the restaurant saw a 300% increase in mentions of the sandwich across social channels — which is corporate speak for "people were really mad." So with a mea culpa Tweet, Panera has brought back the fan favorite, which features smoked chicken, mozzarella, tomato, red onion, basil, and chipotle sauce.

Related: The Most Over-the-Top Fast Food of the Past 10 Years

Szechuan Sauce
© McDonald's

McDonald's Szechuan Sauce

McDonald's created a limited-time Szechuan McNugget sauce to promote the 1998 animated film "Mulan." Helped by an appearance in the cartoon "Rick and Morty," it became an intense cult favorite and has returned only a few times since its initial debut. (A limited run in 2017 even ended with police called to quell angry crowds demanding the sauce, which was in short supply.) The elusive sauce recently made another limited-time comeback in March 2022, but it was only available for a few days.

Chipotle: Smoked Beef Brisket

Chipotle Smoked Brisket

Chipotle discontinued its smoked brisket in November 2021, only two months after it became available. The item was taken off the menu earlier than expected, according to CNN. The brisket was met with largely positive reviews, and Chipotle says it was pleased with the rollout and will "probably do brisket again at some point in the future," CEO Brian Niccol said. Phew.

McDonalds Salad

McDonald's Salads, Bagels, and Yogurt Parfaits

During the pandemic, McDonald's pared down its menu to make it easier to dish out drive-thru orders. Some items returned, such as vanilla cones, chocolate chip cookies, two variations of the Quarter Pounder, and the Bacon McDouble, but some don't have a return date beyond "possibly sometime." If you were hoping to grab a salad, yogurt parfait, or bagel at your nearest Mickey D's, you may have to wait a long, long time.

McHotDog Mega Sausage (Western)
McHotDog Mega Sausage (Western) by elleooi2 (CC BY)

McDonald's McHotdog

McDonald's offered hot dogs in some U.S. markets during the 1990s, but the item failed to appeal to enough customers. Maybe it had something to do with what McDonald's founder Ray Kroc said in his autobiography: "There's no telling what's inside a hot dog's skin, and our standard of quality just wouldn't permit that kind of item." Tell that to the U.S. consumers who eat 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, which says food carts and hipsters have made dogs trendy again.

Burger King Burger Shots
Burger King Burger Shots by Gustav H (CC BY)

Burger King Burger Shots

Burger King hasn't figured out selling tiny burgers. It tried sliders (1987), then slightly bigger burgers called Burger Buddies (1990), and finally six-packs of mini burgers called Burger Shots (2009). None caught on, yet sliders are a huge deal at White Castle and other eateries.

Hula Burger
Hula Burger by Alexboz97 (CC BY-SA)

McDonald's Hula Burger

Along with the Filet-O-Fish, McDonald's introduced founder Ray Kroc's Hawaiian-inspired "Hula Burger" — grilled pineapple with cheese on top. It's no surprise the Filet-O-Fish won that popularity contest, but it'd be interesting to have a sample of what's probably fast food's only attempt at grilled fruit.

Taco Bell's Bell Beefer
Taco Bell

Taco Bell Bell Beefer

Designed to compete with burger chains, the Bell Beefer was essentially a ground-beef taco on a bun: a Tex-Mex sloppy joe. It was popular, offered from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. A Facebook group named Taco Bell Please Bring back the Bell Beefer patiently awaits its return.

Wendy's Fresh Stuffed Pitas

Wendy's Fresh Stuffed Pitas

Filled with fresh vegetables and chunks of chicken, these were developed as healthier alternatives to the restaurant's signature cheeseburgers and milkshakes. Wendy's founder Dave Thomas called the wraps a "win-win situation," but a lack of demand eventually knocked them off the menu.

McDonald's McDLT
McDonald's McDLT by Bluquail (CC BY-SA)

McDonald's McDLT

The company enlisted Jason Alexander (before "Seinfeld") to promote this sandwich, introduced in 1985 in a special two-section styrofoam container that kept hot and cold ingredients separate. Aside from the hassle of getting a deconstructed burger, the containers weren't exactly environmentally friendly, but fans appreciated the hefty serving of toppings, such as lettuce and tomato. The McDLT had a sort-of return in 2011, called the Big and Tasty.

Funnel Cake Sticks
Funnel Cake Sticks by Jenny (CC BY-NC-ND)

Burger King Funnel Cake Sticks

Burger King used to offer a bit of carnival nostalgia from 2009 to 2010 with its Funnel Cake Sticks, which were basically fried batter with powdered sugar and a sugary dipping sauce. This item wasn't exactly healthy, but it was a steal at only $1.50 a pack. The sticks were reintroduced for a brief time in 2019 for $1.99 a pack.

Taco Pizza
Taco Pizza by Chris Coyier (CC BY-ND)

Pizza Hut Taco Pizza

In 1979, Pizza Hut explained the complicated idea behind its Taco Pizza with a commercial that told viewers seven times that: "It's a pizza-looking, taco-tasting pizza." Pizza Hut's foray into Mexican cuisine didn't win over enough customers at the time, but now Mexican food is bigger than ever.

McDonald's Salad Shakers

McDonald's Salad Shakers

The name explains it all: Put salad in a cup, top it with dressing, and shake well. It's kind of a wonder that Shakers, introduced in 2000, aren't around today, with mason-jar salads all over food blogs and Instagram. Not to mention that this has to be the easiest way to prepare and eat a salad. The Facebook group "Bring back the McDonald's Salad Shaker" has 1,700 followers and counting.

There Was a Seafood Salad in the '80s

Taco Bell Seafood Salad

To compete against McDonald's Filet-O-Fish, Taco Bell developed a Seafood Salad that mixed whitefish, snow crab, and shrimp in a taco bowl. The chain even put out a snarky commercial trying to make the Filet-O-Fish look gross, but fish from Taco Bell was a hard sell in 1986. Now that fish tacos are everywhere, it might be time for Taco Bell to dive back into seafood.

KFC's Double Down
KFC's Double Down by Michael Saechang (CC BY-SA)

KFC Double Down

Decadence. Gluttony. Cholesterol. The Double Down sandwich of 2010 consisted of bacon, cheese, and sauce between two patties of fried chicken. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, one Double Down would have contained more than half of your daily allowance of sodium. But the customers lining up around the block for chicken sandwiches at Popeye's and Chick-fil-A probably wouldn't mind too much.


McDonald's Onion Nuggets

The exact taste of McDonald's legendary deep-fried Onion Nuggets is lost to history. Well, not quite: It's reported that an archivist has preserved a sample of this cheap menu item from the 1970s in a climate-controlled room in Elk Grove, Illinois.

Sonic's Pickle-O's
Jamie G./Yelp

Sonic Pickle-Os

In 2003 Sonic decided to rerelease Pickle-O's pickles, originally introduced in 1968. Sonic hoped the side dish would "delight billions of taste buds and millions of customers," but the chain was still a decade early. In the years since, fried pickles have become a staple nationwide, especially as bar food.

Fries and onion rings
GoodLifeStudio / istockphoto

Jack in the Box Frings

Ideal for the indecisive junk food eater, Frings were a simple dish of french fries and onion rings in the same package. Frings, introduced in 1979, have "gone the way of mood rings and shag carpeting," according to the Jack in the Box website — which is a little odd, since the Jack in the Box menu still includes french fries and onion rings that can be bought separately and combined.

Burger King's Rodeo Burger
Burger King's Rodeo Burger by Willis Lam (CC BY-SA)

Burger King Rodeo Burger

The often-overlooked Rodeo Burger was found on Burger King's value menu, where it held its own against such staples as chicken nuggets and cheesy tots. It featured onion rings and barbecue sauce in place of cheese, and Serious Eats said it was an "unexpected jewel in Burger King's crown" — especially for just $1 . Don't confuse the Rodeo Burger with its big sibling, the Rodeo King, which was a half-pound, 1,250-calorie monstrosity that threw bacon and mayo into the mix.