If you’re a loyal devotee of fast food, seeing one of your favorite menu items at a fast food chain disappear can feel like a death in the family. All right, maybe it’s not that tragic, but you’ll certainly feel the loss. We’ve rounded up 10 fast food items that were taken off of menus, and that are certainly missed.
Burger King has made several attempts to compete with White Castle by introducing sliders, in the 1980s with Burger Bundles and Burger Buddies, and in the late 2000s with Burger Shots. They failed every time on several fronts: the burger patties were so small that they kept falling through the broiler grates, they took too long for employees to assemble, and, most damningly, sales were lackluster.
In 1996, McDonald’s spent more money on the advertising campaign for this burger — $150 million — than it had on any other single item in its history. A quarter-pounder on a split-top potato bun with add-ons like circular peppered bacon, lettuce, Spanish onions, and a mustard-mayo sauce, the Arch Deluxe flopped, making the sandwich a very expensive mistake. But the fact of the matter is, these were actually pretty tasty. It would probably be unthinkable for the struggling chain to re-introduce this throwback, but they most likely never will; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results, after all.
For decades, McDonald’s fries were fried in a mixture of 7 percent cottonseed oil and 93 percent straight beef fat. This is what made them so undeniably delicious, and also gave them more saturated fat per ounce than a McDonald’s hamburger. Amid criticism over cholesterol levels, McDonald’s switched to 100 percent vegetable oil in 1990 and started adding “beef flavoring” in order to keep that beefy flavor that served them so well. But that didn’t go over well either, and, in 2002, the company was forced to pay $10 million after admitting to having misled consumers into believing that the fries were completely vegetarian. The fries are still tasty, but they don’t compare to the version from those heady, cholesterol-laden early days.
Whataburger introduced steak fajitas to their menus in the early 2000s, and while the fajitas found a devoted fan base, they quickly disappeared from the menus. We know that Whataburger is best known for its burgers, but re-introducing these would be a good change of pace; in the meantime, their chicken fajita taco will suffice.
Introduced in the 1970s, McDonald’s onion nuggets were clumps of diced onions that were breaded and fried à la chicken nuggets. They sound pretty tasty, and no other fast food chain is selling anything like them nowadays. We’d try them!
One of Taco Bell’s most popular “secret menu” items, the Cheesarito was once a regular menu item but has since been removed, even though all the necessary components are still on hand. It was simply melted cheese, scallions, and taco sauce rolled up in a soft tortilla. Cheap, satisfying, and delicious — there’s no reason why it shouldn’t still be an everyday item.
Intended to offer some competition to Subway, these deli-style “artisan sandwiches” were rolled out by Wendy's in 2006. They sold decently, but their fatal flaw was assembly time: they took a lot longer to prepare than burgers. They disappeared from menus in 2007, but a comeback would be most welcome — especially in this day and age, when fast-casual spots like Panera Bread are stealing fast food’s spotlight.
A popular menu item in the 1970s and ‘80s, the Peg Leg was simply a chicken drumstick that was battered and fried, served with fries and little morsels of fried batter. Because they were fried with the same batter used to cook Long John Silver’s fish, they were lighter and crunchier than what you’d find at other fast food joints. The present-day “chicken planks” (chicken tenders) ain’t got nothing on the Peg Legs.
The fried apple pie, when it was on the menu at McDonald’s, was hands-down one of the tastiest things for sale at the Golden Arches. Light and flaky, these were replaced with the current doughy baked apple pies in the early 1990s, but the present-day pies are nothing like they used to be. The reasons behind the switch were manifold. Perhaps most importantly, McDonald’s was making a big push to be healthier in the early 1990s (note the McLean and tallow-free fries above), so baking the pies instead of frying them was an obvious choice. Also, the inside of the fried apple pies was pretty molten, and the company probably didn’t want to invite litigation. Thankfully, the fried pies are still available in Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii, and, miraculously enough, a nostalgic restauranteur was able to track down the original producer of these pies: Chef Eric Greenspan currently sells them, deep-fried in all their glory, at his Los Angeles restaurant, Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese.
The Bell Beefer was one of Taco Bell’s experiments in thinking inside the bun, but, unfortunately, it didn’t pan out so well for them. Sort of a sloppy Joe, the Bell Beefer — which topped ground beef with cheese, lettuce, and tomato — was an early menu item, but was phased out when the chain went 100 percent Tex-Mex in the early 1980s. Today there’s a loyal group of devotees who are trying to get it back.
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