How Customer Demands Are Shaping Fast Food Menus

It's not an uncommon sight for some of our favorite fast food meals to suddenly disappear off the menu altogether. Those delicious cartons of french fries and crispy nuggets that save us on days where we just don't want to cook simply can't stick around forever. In a competitive industry, fast-food establishments have to turn over these less-than-popular menu items quickly in an effort to keep up with rivals.

This competitiveness has meant that we've had to say farewell to beloved things like the ever-affordable McDonald's dollar menu and even Burger King's ooey gooey Cini-Minis. Years after these discontinuations, we still feel the loss. 

While saying goodbye to fast food items usually does mean bye for good, in recent months some long-forgotten menu items have been making a comeback. So why the sudden resurgence of these long-forgotten treats? We might have the passion of fellow customers to thank for shaping the fast food menus of recent years.

The changing face of fast food menus

While some discontinued menu items have been making a comeback, a lot more has been changing at our favorite fast-food restaurants. One of the most controversial of recent months is with fast-casual chain Culver's and its announcement that it would be switching from Pepsi products to Coke. The change is a big deal for diehard lovers of each of these soda brands.

Beyond changes to soda brands, McDonald's was met with great sadness from some customers after it stopped doing its all-day breakfast during the pandemic. A similar response followed when the chain's McRib met its demise McDonald's actually tried to soften the blow this time by sending the menu item on a "farewell tour" before it was axed. Other big changes to fast food menus might be happening for good like the re-expansion of menus following the pandemic plus the addition of more plant-based options into the mainstream.

While some of these changes are permanent (and some are for the better), other changes have been met with great opposition from customers. Sometimes the backlash is so great that decisions have even been reversed, like Taco Bell's temporary removal of potatoes from its menus before some vegans, vegetarians, and general lovers of the food retaliated. This is how customer demands are making changes to fast food menus.

The power of the people

You saw it with Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza and the chain's iconic Nacho Fries, then again with The Double Down at KFC. Fast food establishments have started bringing back previously discontinued menu items. Whether it's the lure of nostalgia or taste, these resurgences are in large part due to the demands of passionate customers.

Whether it's starting petitions online, staying active on bustling community boards, or flooding social media comments with demands and requests, fast food chains have started listening to their customers. These businesses aren't just paying attention, they're inviting customers to give their opinions on big matters. Just look at one recent initiative from Taco Bell. The chain recently started a campaign where they have invited fans to vote on which discontinued menu item they will bring back next.

Another campaign by Taco Bell showed the brand bringing back its Volcano Menu (active back in 1995) following a passionate customer's petition for it to be brought back. "From petitions to recreating their own DIY alternatives from home, Taco Bell fans took to social advocating for the return. Taco Bell heard and is making this summer hotter than ever" (per a press release). 

There is great power in letting your voice be heard, even if it's about something as simple as waffle fries. With that in mind, here are 14 discontinued KFC items we really want back.