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

Burger King Halloween Whopper, Black Buns, A-1 Sauce, 9/2015,

Burger King Halloween Whopper, Black Buns, A-1 Sauce, 9/2015, by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

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Burger King Halloween Whopper, Black Buns, A-1 Sauce, 9/2015,
Burger King Halloween Whopper, Black Buns, A-1 Sauce, 9/2015, by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Digestive Double Dares

Fast food used to be a simple burger-and-fries affair, but for many big-name chains, food stunts can create buzz and swipe curious customers from the competition. There has been no shortage of drive-thru weirdness over the past decade, from Taco Bell's Naked Chicken Chalupa and Burger King's Halloween Whopper to lesser-known experiments like Jack in the Box's Burger Dippers. Curious? We've rounded up several of the zaniest items to grace U.S. menus in recent years. 

Related: Fast-Food Dishes With Downright Obsessive Followings

Dunkin Cookie Butter Cold Brew

Dunkin' Cookie Butter Cold Brew Coffee (2022)

Cold brew coffee has been a hot item throughout the takeout industry, but this one is probably only trendy with true cookie butter fans. The cookie butter cold brew is slow-steeped like traditional cold brew, then finished with a dollop of cookie butter cold foam. Not enough cookie butter? True fans can also add a cookie butter donut. 

Related: 50 Fast-Food Menu Items You'll Only Find Abroad

Wings Over
Wings Over

Wings Over All-New Original Tender Sandwich (2021)

Wings Over might not have the name recognition of other chains on this list, but that hasn't stopped the brand from launching a head-scratching menu item at the end of a head-scratching year. On Dec. 20, the company debuted a new menu item featuring a crispy chicken tender nestled awkwardly and precariously into what looks like a hot dog bun/Texas toast hybrid and topped it with a blue cheese or ranch drizzle. Alas, the sandwich seems to be off the menu in 2023.

Related: The Best Chicken Wings in Every State

KFC - Doughnut Zinger Burger
del taco quesadilla tacos
Del Taco

Del Taco Stuffed Quesadilla Tacos (2021)

Have you ever been forced to choose between quesadillas and tacos? The humanity! But have no fear: In August of 2021, Del Taco was here to make sure you never have to make that impossible choice again. They mashed up two of their most popular items in a cheesy, gooey stuffed quesadilla taco. Two kinds of cheeses are melted between two tortillas before being stuffed with fried chicken, grilled chicken, or carne asada and the usual fresh taco toppings, because one cannot live on cheese alone.

Burger Dippers, Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box Burger Dippers (2019)

Burgers are great and all, but they're not the most convenient food to eat on the road. Enter Jack in the Box's Burger Dippers, tested in 2019 in California. This "burger you can eat like a fry" had a chopped hamburger patty inside, and some sort of nebulous crispy coating featuring plenty of sesame seeds. Of course, ketchup or ranch were available for dipping. Alas, as of the end of this year, Burger Dippers had yet to make an encore appearance on Jack's menu.

Related: The Best Value Meal Deals at 28 Chains Across the Country

Pizza Hut
RiverNorthPhotography / istockphoto

Pizza Hut Stuffed Cheez-It Pizza (2019)

This limited-time gimmick from 2019 didn't resemble a pizza as much as a calzone that decided to dress like a Cheez-It for Halloween. The Cheez-It-flavored crust encased either a plain cheese or cheese and pepperoni filling, and marinara came on the side for dipping. Thrillist, for one, gave it a thumbs-up, calling it a "stoner cheese lover's paradise."

Pickle Juice Slush, Sonic

Sonic Pickle Juice Slush (2018)

Not content to let others corner the market on eyebrow-raising beverages, Sonic released its bright green Pickle Juice Slush in the summer of 2018. The weird fusion of sweet and tart — "like a pickle-flavored margarita," as one reviewer said — was perhaps the most controversial in a grand tradition of Sonic slushie innovation. Earlier in the year, Red Bull Slushes also appeared on the menu for a limited time.

Arbynator, Arby's
Scott B./Yelp

Arby's Arbynator (2018)

The 2018 Arbynator appealed to our baser instincts for more, more, more. The sandwich featured as much as a half-pound of roast beef smothered with cheddar sauce, Arby's sauce, Horsey sauce, and — best of all — a generous mound of curly fries, all on a sesame seed bun. While the Arbynator is no longer officially on the menu, as Brand Eating noted, you can probably still ask for it since it requires no special ingredients.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell Firecracker Burrito (2017)

Leave it to Taco Bell to find a way to fuse one of our favorite childhood candies with a burrito. The Firecracker Burrito, tested by the chain in 2017, started out innocently enough, with beef, rice, cheese, and sour cream. But the nebulously crunchy red strips, a vaguely red tortilla, and packets of "cayenne popping crystals" took this experiment to another level, indeed.

Sweet and Crunchy Tenders, Popeyes

Popeyes Sweet and Crunchy Tenders (2017)

Long before the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich touched off sellouts, shortages, and long lines across the country, the chicken chain in 2017 introduced its Sweet and Crunchy Tenders. Sounds innocent enough, but the chicken was breaded in a coating of shortbread cookies and served with a jam-like dipping sauce. The sugary sauce, according to Business Insider, was the greater crime, with "flavor fatigue" setting in quickly.

Related: Fast-Food Deals to Feed the Whole Family

Buffalo Latte, Tim Hortons
Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons Buffalo Latte (2017)

We'll say it again for the folks in the back: Buffalo. Latte. Tim Hortons, one of America's favorite Canadian outposts, decided in 2017 to gift (or prank?) some Buffalo, New York, locations with this mashup of espresso, steamed milk, mocha, Buffalo sauce, whipped cream and a sprinkling of Buffalo seasoning. The stunt certainly did create buzz, with Bon Appétit quipping, "Just make sure you have some celery or blue cheese on hand to wash it down."

Unicorn Frappuccino, Starbucks
Unicorn Frappuccino, Starbucks by Like_the_Grand_Canyon (CC BY-NC)

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino (2017)

In 2017, Starbucks gifted us — or inflicted upon us — the Unicorn Frappuccino. The limited-time mango-flavored concoction was a shocking shade of pink and blue, making it an immediate hit on social media. Of course, the sugar-laden drink also had its detractors and became the butt of quite a few jokes. As Stephen Colbert deadpanned: "I have no idea how many unicorns they're grinding up for these things, but I'm guessing PETA is furious."

Naked Chicken Chalupa, Taco Bell
Naked Chicken Chalupa, Taco Bell by theimpulsivebuy (CC BY-SA)

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa (2017)

Think of it as Taco Bell's answer to the KFC Double Down. The Naked Chicken Chalupa first hit menus in 2017, unabashedly replacing a traditional taco shell with a taco-shaped piece of fried chicken surrounding lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and an avocado ranch sauce. Unlike many of the items on this list, the Naked Chicken Chalupa was not a one-time stunt, and has popped up on the menu at least three more times since its debut. 

Related: The Best Fast-Food Deals to Grab This Month

Mac n' Cheetos, Burger King
Mac n' Cheetos, Burger King by theimpulsivebuy (CC BY-SA)

Burger King Mac n' Cheetos (2016)

Burger King pressed on in its quest for fast-food shock and awe in the summer of 2016. That's when it unveiled Mac n' Cheetos, fried globs of macaroni and cheese shaped like giant Cheetos and coated in Cheeto dust for good measure. As if that wasn't enough, the chain introduced Cheetos Chicken Fries that fall, too.

Related: Brand Mashups You Never Saw Coming

Angriest Whopper, Burger King
Angriest Whopper, Burger King by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Burger King Angriest Whopper (2016)

Undeterred by the bowel-busting rollout of the Halloween Whopper, Burger King went back to the food-coloring drawing board with the Angriest Whopper in early 2016. The fiery red bun had hot sauce baked right in, plus there were jalapeños, "angry onions" and a spicy "angry sauce." Fortunately, it didn't set any mouths on fire, with one critic noting that unlike the Halloween Whopper, the Angriest Whopper "is centered around things that actually taste good."

Burger King Halloween Whopper, Black Buns
Burger King Halloween Whopper, Black Buns by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Burger King Halloween Whopper (2015)

Burger King aimed to scare up sales in 2015 with its Halloween Whopper, which featured buns tinted black with A1 steak sauce. What it actually got were social-media reports from customers who said the burger turned their bowel movements a frightening shade of green. Scary, indeed.

Frappula, Starbucks

Starbucks Frappula (2015)

How better to wash down your Halloween Whopper than with a Frappula? This spooky addition to the Starbucks menu came in October 2015 and 2016. It layered mocha sauce, whipped cream, white chocolate mocha sauce, milk, ice, and a sinister layer of strawberry puree oozing like blood down into the cup. Its sibling, the green-tea Franken Frappuccino, was introduced in 2014.

Related: 16 Things You Didn't Know About Starbucks

Cap n' Crunch Delights, Taco Bell
Cap n' Crunch Delights, Taco Bell by theimpulsivebuy (CC BY-SA)

Taco Bell Cap n' Crunch Delights (2015)

Our favorite taco chain added one more avenue for digestive distress with the introduction of Cap n' Crunch Delights in 2015. The red, donut-like treats were filled with a milk-flavored icing and dusted with colorful crushed Crunch Berries cereal. "Remember when you were a kid, and you snorted a line of sugar in the school cafeteria because your friend dared you to? It's a lot like that," Thrillist warned.

The Most American Thickburger
The Most American Thickburger by TheKarenD (CC BY-NC)

Carl's Jr./Hardee's Most American Thickburger (2015)

Sister chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's aren't known for understated menu choices, but 2015's Most American Thickburger might have been their crowning achievement for the decade. The greasy cheeseburger was sandwiched between a hot dog and a layer of Lay's potato chips, and clocked in at a whopping 1,030 calories without a side of fries. Not weird enough for you? In 2014, Carl's Jr. tested burgers covered in gravy, mashed potatoes, and onion straws.

Bacon-Wrapped Deep-Dish Pizza, Little Caesars

Little Caesars Bacon-Wrapped Deep-Dish Pizza (2015)

Deep-dish pizza has never been mistaken for health food, but Little Caesars found a way to make one of our guiltiest pleasures even guiltier. Its Bacon-Wrapped Deep-Dish Pizza, introduced in early 2015 for a limited-time run, sported 3.5 feet of bacon plastered onto the crust, plus bacon crumbles on top for good measure. The experiment proved so successful that it was brought back in 2016 and again in 2019.

Related: 16 Fast-Food Items Overdue for a Comeback

Pizza Hut Hot Dog Bites Pizza
Pizza Hut Hot Dog Bites Pizza by theimpulsivebuy (CC BY-SA)

Pizza Hut Hot Dog Bites Pizza (2015)

On its best day, pizza is an indulgence, but the evil geniuses at Pizza Hut decided in 2015 to really push the envelope. Hot Dog Bites Pizza had 28 miniature hot dogs baked right into the pie's pretzel crust and was served up with French's mustard instead of the chain's ubiquitous marinara. The item, alas, was short-lived. As one tester for The Washington Post noted: "When you play the game of hot dog pizza, you win or you die… There are no winners here."

Meat Mountain, Arby's
Jason K./Yelp

Arby's Meat Mountain (2014)

Arby's has the meats, and that was never more evident than in 2014, when it rolled out a $10 sandwich called the Meat Mountain. The sandwich included chicken tenders, turkey, ham, corned beef, brisket, Angus steak, roast beef, bacon, Swiss cheese, and cheddar. You can still conquer the Meat Mountain (just ask — it's part of the chain's secret menu), and in 2017, Arby's even allowed daring devotees to add a fish fillet.

Taco Bell Breakfast
Taco Bell Breakfast by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Taco Bell Waffle Taco (2014)

Taco Bell has never been shy about making a splash with head-scratching menu items, and the Waffle Taco certainly got tongues wagging back in 2014. The concept was simple: a taco-shaped waffle wrapped around your choice of sausage or bacon, plus scrambled eggs, cheese, and syrup for dipping. Sadly for Waffle Taco fans, the novelty was discontinued not quite a year later in favor of the Chicken Biscuit Taco.

Related: Live Más: 20 Spicy Secrets Behind Taco Bell's Success

Fritos Chili Pizza, Papa John's
Papa John's Pizza/Yelp

Papa John's Fritos Chili Pizza (2014)

Straight-laced Papa John's typically churns out relatively traditional pizzas, but even it flirted with the food-mashup trend when it rolled out Fritos Chili Pizza in 2014. The limited-time pie was topped off with beef, chili sauce, and Fritos in addition to usual suspects like onions, tomatoes and cheese. The staff of Esquire, for one, was not impressed. "As a Texan who grew up on Frito chili pie, this offended me in a way that was far realer than I could have imagined," one reviewer groused.

Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich, Carl's Jr.

Carl's Jr. Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich (2013)

Fast-food joints aren't usually the spot to find innovative dessert options, but Carl's Jr. bravely added a Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich to its menu back in 2013. The treat sandwiched a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream between two halves of an untoasted, iced-and-sprinkled strawberry Pop-Tart. Sugar shock? You bet. Of course, the chain wasn't done testing the limits of our collective sweet tooth, introducing brightly colored, cereal-flavored Froot Loop Mini Donuts in 2018.

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Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich, Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich (2013)

A belly-buster that surely would earn Homer Simpson's seal of approval, the Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich was Dunkin' Donuts' attempt to fuse savory and sweet. Unveiled in 2013, it was health food compared with some other things on the Dunkin' menu, totaling only 360 calories despite sandwiching bacon and egg between two sugary donut halves. 

Related: Dunkin' vs. Krispy Kreme: Who Has the Better Tasting Doughnuts?

IMG_8121 (Large)
IMG_8121 (Large) by Food (CC BY-NC-ND)

Burger King Bacon Sundae (2012)

Our nation's love affair with bacon is well-established, but Burger King decided to test it in the summer of 2012 with the Bacon Sundae, which was exactly what it sounds like: vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce, gooey caramel, and a liberal amount of smoked bacon. The move wasn't entirely unprecedented in the world of fast-food desserts, either: Earlier that year, Jack in the Box put a bacon shake on the menu.

Related: 10 Unhealthy Fast-Food Breakfasts — and What to Order Instead