2014 saw some pretty wild new items that could mean that fast food is heading firmly in the direction of the weird.
7-Eleven decided to jump headfirst into the Doritos mashup fray in June, when they began selling Doritos Loaded: essentially deep-fried, Doritos-encrusted bites, stuffed with melty nacho cheese. Let us know if you try them, because we have no plans to.
Fries are a menu item that usually doesn’t require much in the way of souping up; a squirt of ketchup is usually all they need. But Carl’s Jr. takes them to the next level by offering things like sweet potato fries, chili cheese fries, Crisscut fries, and, as of earlier this year, Bacon Ranch Fries, doused in ranch dressing and sprinkled with bacon bits. With 800 calories and 51 grams of fat, we wouldn’t exactly call this a “side dish.”
Here’s an idea: Let’s replace a pizza crust with fried chicken, top it with things like bacon, jalapeño and pineapple, and cheese and barbecue sauce, and give it a classy name like “Specialty Chicken,” even though it’s just chunks of fried chicken with pizza toppings melted on top. Nice try, Domino’s.
Dunkin’ Donuts has generally been pretty conservative when it comes to new menu options; their wild side tends to start and end with glazed doughnut breakfast sandwiches. But the chain surprised everyone in March when they released, for a limited time, a full-on eggs Benedict sandwich: an English muffin stuffed with ham, an egg, and super-thick Hollandaise. Eggs Benedict is one of the greatest breakfast dishes ever, so we’re actually onboard with this one.
Want fried chicken, bacon, hash browns, three cheeses, and ranch dressing on a croissant? Then drop into Jack in the Box after 9 pm, where you’ll find their Chick-n-Tater Melt, one of the strangest fast food gutbusters we encountered this year.
In November, Pizza Hut launched a whole lot of new pizza options, including 10 new crust flavors, six sauces, and 11 new specialty pizzas, like the Pretzel Piggy (garlic Parmesan sauce, bacon, mushrooms, spinach, and balsamic glaze on a pretzel crust) and Cherry Pepper Bombshell (tomato sauce, salami, Peruvian cherry peppers, spinach, and balsamic on an asiago crust). The most bizarre option, however? The Sweet Sriracha Dynamite, which tops a honey-sriracha-drizzled crust with grilled chicken, jalapeños, pineapple, Peruvian cherry peppers, and more honey sriracha.
Taco Bell launched a much-vaunted breakfast menu back in March, with items including breakfast burritos, A.M. Crunchwraps, and flatbread melts. But the real standout was the waffle taco, which loaded a waffle (that had somehow been bent into the shape of a taco shell) with eggs, cheese, and sausage or bacon.
Pulled pork sandwiches and cheeseburgers are usually completely different sandwiches, but in this Era of the Mashup, anything goes, so in October Burger King decided to combine the two into a Pulled Pork Cheeseburger. The massive sandwich comprises a quarter-pound patty topped with pulled pork, Cheddar, barbecue sauce, and (for some reason) broccoli slaw. Maybe they had Daniel Boulud’s similar creation in mind?
Has the waffle jumped the shark? It very well might have in March, when White Castle released, for a limited time, three Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches: sausage, egg, and cheese; chicken and waffles; and bacon, egg, and cheese. Both a mashup and an attempt to go gourmet, these unfortunately came and went rather quickly.