12 Rarest Menu Items From Your Favorite Fast Food Restaurants

Fast food chains have remarkable marketing tactics that get us to hot foot over to their establishments the minute they add a new item to their menu. But, despite your loyalty to your favorite brand, there might be some menu items you just won't be able to sample unless you're willing to travel. Some quick-service joints offer these uncommon menu items as a means to appeal to regional appetites, selling them only at certain locations around the country or even around the world.

Other times, rare fast food finds are only offered seasonally. According to Study Finds, 54% of survey respondents revealed that they love seasonal items. About 48% said they would prefer to enjoy these treats year-round.

Some elusive menu items are brought to the market for a limited time only and not just during a certain time of year. They are often there to generate brand awareness or are used to test the market for more permanent items. So, while you might think you know every item your favorite fast food restaurant has offered, you could be surprised to find some new things you've never heard of on this list.

1. Wendy's Hoosier Breakfast Bowl

In 2022, Wendy's introduced a brand new breakfast item to please the palates of customers in Indiana. The Hoosier Breakfast Bowl was offered at select Indiana locations and only during morning hours. It consisted of a bowl with crisp seasoned potatoes, buttery flaky biscuits, and thick white gravy with chunks of sausage, topped off with shredded cheese and a fried egg. The breakfast bowl's name was a reference to both the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team, which represents Indiana University, and a nickname for residents of the state. Former Indiana University basketball star Christian Watford was tapped to help give away some for free as a promotion in Indianapolis.

"Whether on the court or at the breakfast table, a Hoosier is always a winner thanks to Wendy's new Hoosier Biscuit Bowl," the restaurant said in a press release (via Fox 59). "We believe Wendy's always delivers a better breakfast than the other guys, and the Hoosier Biscuit Bowl is no exception." One fan of the square burger chain outside of the participating area revealed on Reddit that they planned to ask their local Wendy's if they could make them a Hoosier Biscuit Bowl seeing as they "have all the parts" to do so. This piqued the interest of other Redditors, but the poster never revealed if the plan actually worked.

2. Jimmy John's Chuck Norris

Jimmy John's has several secret menu items named after action heroes. This one is named after Chuck Norris. Some of the chain's locations might not offer it or might not even know what you're talking about if you ask for it by name. There's also debate on what exactly this sandwich entails.

Some say that the Chuck Norris is when you add tuna and bacon to a J.J. Gargantuan sandwich, which comes with salami, ham, onion, capocollo, lettuce, turkey, tomato, roast beef, and Jimmy John's famous "juice," along with oregano and basil. Others say that it's actually the #15 Club Tuna, which comes with tomato, lettuce, and provolone cheese on top of tuna salad, with crumbled bacon on top.

Either way, you won't find it on the regular menu and under the name Chuck Norris. If you're lucky, your local Jimmy John's sandwich makers will have it in their hoagie repertoire or they might be kind enough to accommodate you if you ask for it according to our specifications above. A customer from Davison, Michigan wrote on Facebook that the employees at his shop were "clueless" when he asked for one and had no idea what he was talking about. So, he taught them how to make it.

3. Subway's Malibu Garden Patty

Whispers appeared in 2014 about a vegan option at Subway. Animal Outlook reported that summer that the Malibu Garden Patty was made with wholesome grains of rolled oat and brown rice along with veggies like peppers, carrots, corn, and onion. The sandwich also came topped with a roasted tomato sauce. Vegetarians like chef Katie Mae said they were overjoyed to have a meatless option that wasn't soy-based.

The Malibu Garden was introduced alongside a Black Bean patty, also made with brown rice along with bell peppers, cilantro, corn, and garlic, topped with a curry sauce made from sweet potatoes. These vegan options were offered under a limited-time testing basis at less than a dozen locations in Los Angeles, California. Vegan and vegetarian patties at Subway are pretty rare. Some Subways don't offer a vegetarian patty at all and instead have the Veggie Delite, which is just fresh veggies of your choice on a bun.

4. Whataburger's Hatch Green Chile Burger

This burger sounds so mouth-watering that you might have to make a trip to New Mexico after reading about it. The Whataburger Hatch Green Chile Bacon Burger was announced by the chain in 2020. It came with two burger patties, one topped with American and the other with Monterey Jack cheese, a dollop of mayo, bacon slices, and chopped Hatch green chilis. These peppers are exclusive to New Mexico's Hatch Valley. There were also sightings of a bacon-less version that go back to 2011, according to a post on The Impulsive Buy.

"For all our Hatch green chile fans out there, you know how great they are," Whataburger Vice President of Marketing and Innovation Rich Scheffler said in a press release. "If you've never had Hatch green chiles, this is a great introduction." According to Scheffler, "Every bite is the perfect bite."

Though the press release stated that the sandwich was only offered for a limited time, it was brought back again in 2021. That year, Whataburger also introduced a chicken sandwich version with an option of a grilled or spicy filet. The original bacon-less version of the sandwich was said to have only been available in two to three states. The chain has over 900 locations in 14 states so you'll have to wait to see where it reappears and when.

5. The McLobster from McDonald's

This might blow your mind but McDonald's has served — wait for it — lobster. The McLobster was first brought to the market in 1993, made of 100% Atlantic meat in a long bun along with "lobster sauce" and garnished with lettuce. This was a limited edition item that seems to have appeared in New England states like Maine as well as parts of Canada. Social media posts show the sandwich still being offered during "McLobster Season," which falls in the summer. In a 2010 Facebook post, McDonald's Canada said: "McLobster is available starting today, June 21st, only at participating McDonald's restaurants in the Maritime Provinces and parts of Quebec."

We know what you're thinking — is it good, or is it gross? According to Suzie the Foodie, it falls somewhere in the middle. "I have had better and I have had much worse when I lived on the East Coast," she said in a review. "I believe most of the meat is from the claws and legs so the flavor was more subtle than I was hoping. I love that overwhelming ocean-punch of seafood flavor that can come with lobster. This was way more delicate than other lobster rolls I have had."

6. KFC's Double Down

A decade ago, KFC introduced the revolutionary idea that sandwiches don't need buns. That's when they came out with the Double Down, a breadless sandwich with two white meat fried chicken filets filled with hickory-smoked bacon, two cheese slices, and mayo or spicy sauce. The chain claims that this hefty sandwich garnered "a cult following." In a 2023 press release, KFC SMO Nick Chavez said: "The Double Down is one of the most buzzworthy fast food menu items ever. After nearly a decade of people begging for its return, we're embracing the chaos, bringing back our most iconic sandwich ever for just four weeks."

Participating locations sold the legendary item for one month, which the company somewhat oddly described as "embracing the chaos." Marketing for the comeback tastefully used a modified version of Major Lazer's hit song "Bubble Butt." Since this bun-less wonder has appeared and reappeared several times, there's a good chance you could be seeing it again at some point in the future. KFC Philippines even offered a Double Down Dog in 2020, which was a fried chicken filet that was wrapped around a hot dog covered in Colonel's Secret Sauce and cheese.

7. The Arctic Orange Shake from McDonald's

The McDonald's Arctic Orange Shake is a vintage rare fast food treat. A commercial for the chain's frozen offering, featuring Dennis Quaid, describes it as "triple thick," "frosty," and "delicious." That promo debuted in 1976 when the chain's motto was "We Do It All For You," later replaced with "You Deserve a Break Today."

Ever since then, the McDonald's Arctic Orange Shake has appeared and reappeared on a number of occasions. Facebook posts show that it was offered at locations from New York to Indiana in the spring to summer months as recently as 2016. There's even an entire Facebook page dedicated to this rare fast food find.

Commenters on YouTube said that the Arctic Orange Shake tastes creamy and sort of like sherbert. Others showed a lot of love for the citrus summer treat and have called for its return. One said they missed it even more than the McDonald's winter-spring offering, the Shamrock Shake.

8. Popeyes' Onion Rings

You probably didn't even know this was a thing, but we're here to tell you that Popeyes has sold onion rings, and this isn't a new thing — reports of the fried circles date back to 2009 and they appear to have been on the menu as recently as 2022. People rave about their lip-smacking seasoned batter that is crisped to perfection and tastes similar to the chain's chicken batter.

"Popeyes' Onion Rings are the best I've had from any fast food joint. The rings are cooked long enough so that they usually break when you bite into them so that you're not pulling out the entire ring of onion on the initial bite," a reviewer on Brand Eating reveals. They also commented that they were especially delicious with the ranch dipping sauce.

A customer on Reddit said they had "a hint of sweetness and a touch of heat." One of the last mentions of them was in 2022 when a customer reported that they had disappeared from the menu of one of the chain's Round Rock Texas restaurants.

9. The Haupia Pie from McDonald's

McDonald's has been serving pies since 1968, which was the same year the Big Mac came out. While the apple flavor is offered year round, you find all different kinds of flavors — like Pumpkin & Creme or Holiday Pie – that come and go from the menu throughout the season. One you might have never heard of is the Haupia Pie.

Haupia is a Hawaiian coconut pudding with a firm consistency, though it's creamy in texture. It's made with coconut milk, corn starch, water, and sugar. McDonald's refers to it as Fried Coconut (Haupia) Pie on its menu and serves a version that is looser in density and squeezed into a flaky crust.

These things are reportedly so delicious that people are willing to travel to Hawaii just to get them. "They were worth every calorie. I visited McDonald's several times during our visit to the Big Island just for the Haupia pies. I will miss this treat and I can't wait to go back," one customer wrote on Trip Advisor. The pie is brought back to the menu every so often, so you'll have to plan your trip to Hawaii accordingly.

10. Taco Bell's Nacho Fries

These extremely tasty fries were first introduced in January 2018 as a limited offering until that April. They were a huge hit and are reintroduced every now and again at participating locations. These crispy potato sticks come covered in Mexican spices and are to be dipped in warm nacho cheese sauce. They were promoted alongside the Nacho Fries Box, which, in addition to the fries, also included a medium drink, Crunchy Taco, and Beefy 5-Layer Burrito.

Taco Bell's Nacho Fries offerings were part of the chain's goal of adding 20 new menu items to its dollar menu to compete with other fast food purveyors when dollar menus were first introduced. People were so in love with then that they started trying to make their own at home. You'll find tons of copycat recipes for them online. "Those nacho fries are heavenly," one Reddit commenter said of this beloved fast food item. "Too good for the soul."

In a move that no doubt created joy in every town with Taco Bell locations, Taco Bell Nacho Fries came back for a ninth time in April 2023. This time, the chain partnered with the Texas-based Yellowbird Hot Sauce company to help season these fiery fires. There's also the option of having them with a Spicy Habanero Ranch sauce, which is sold for $1 in case you want to dip your other menu items in it.

11. Biscuits and Gravy from McDonald's

Nothing says good morning in the South like biscuits and gravy. And in that part of America, McDonald's may be able to accommodate you. Breakfast Lunch Hour reports that the dish is available at certain locations in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas — but, as you might expect, it's only available during breakfast hours. The publication also claims that a petition exists to put the item on the nationwide menu. There's a Facebook page that begs the company to bring them to Florida.

According to the McDonald's website, the dish comes with two made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits. These are smothered in an 8 oz. serving of white gravy that has bits of sausage in it. Some restaurants might not have it on the exact menu but you could try and hack the menu by asking for an order of biscuits and a side of gravy. "The gravy was creamy and salty on top of the always tasty biscuits made for a perfect hungover treat," one fan of the item said on Reddit.

12. Chick-fil-A's Fried Okra

Chick-fil-A is known to have tons of menu hacks and items you can only get at a select few locations. The chain's very first location, The Hapeville Dwarf House in Hapeville, Georgia, is known to serve a handful of these rare items. The Hapeville Dwarf House is a Truett's Chick-fil-A, which are a series of Georgia locations that were rebranded in 2017 to honor founder S. Truett Cathy. One rare, speciality Chick-fil-A item that's available at the Dwarf House location is the Fried Okra.

Okra looks like a vegetable but it's actually a fruit that's indigenous to Ethiopia. It doesn't have the most appetizing mouthfeel, but when it's covered in breadcrumbs and fried, it's heavenly, as those who are lucky enough to have tried the Chick-fil-A version will attest to. Redditor u/RogueSkunk ordered the Fried Okra during a trip to Dwarf House and they shared a snap of their meal (which, to their surprise, was served on actual plates instead of throwaway ones). Fellow user u/essidus chimed in to heap praise on this tasty food, writing, "Everyone needs more fried okra in their lives."