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

Fast Food Items Overdue for a Comeback

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

Junked Food

When a fast-food restaurant discontinues a menu item, it's not necessarily gone forever. The co-creator of the Adult Swim show "Rick and Morty," for instance, once got McDonald's to send him a bottle of its legendary (and long discontinued) Szechuan McNugget sauce. During the pandemic, McDonald's shelved some of their healthier items (just in time for most of us to want to shed our extra pandemic weight). Examples like these beg the question: If enough diehard fans call for the return of a fast food item, will restaurants oblige? Here are some candidates for resurrection.

Related: The Best Fast Food Deals to Grab This Month

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. But while some items are scheduled to come back in July, such as vanilla cones, chocolate chip cookies, two variations of the Quarter Pounder and the Bacon McDouble, 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.

Related: Tips and Hacks to Eat Low Carb at Any Restaurant

 Szechuan Sauce
Szechuan Sauce by melvin imanuel (CC BY)

McDonald's Szechuan Sauce

McDonald's created the limited-time Szechuan McNugget sauce to promote the 1998 animated film "Mulan." The sauce became something of a cult favorite. A bottle produced at the same time as the one sent to the "Rick and Morty" co-creator attracted a final bid of $15,350 at auction, and a limited run in 2017 ended with police called to quell angry crowds demanding the sauce. Somehow, the release of a live-action "Mulan" this year did not prompt a reboot of the McDonald's tie-in.

Related: How to Make 24 Fast Food Sauces with Copycat Recipes

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 cofounder 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 Americans 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.

Related: How to Make 26 Fast Food Favorites at Home

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.

Related: 25 Weird and Wonderful McDonald's International Menu Favorites

Taco Bell's Bell Beefer
Taco Bell

Taco Bell's 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 a healthier alternative 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.

Related: We Tasted All 9 Wendy's Breakfast Sandwiches and This Is the Best

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 around 2011, called the Big and Tasty.

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

Burger King's 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 per pack.

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

Pizza Hut's 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.

Related: Fast Food Deals to Feed the Whole Family

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 1,500 members and counting.

There Was a Seafood Salad in the '80s

Taco Bell's 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.

Related: 20 Fast Food Restaurants Then and Now

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

KFC's 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. 

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


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.

Related: What’s the Most Popular Fast Food in Your State?

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

Sonic's Pickle-Os

In 2003 Sonic decided to re-release 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

Jack in the Box's 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.

Related: 21 Outrageous French Fries You Need to Try

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

Burger King's 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 declared it an "unexpected jewel in Burger King's crown" — especially for the $1 price. 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.

Related: We Tried 24 Fast-Food Sauces and These Are the Best (and Worst)