The Year in Fast Food

McDonald's tried to be healthy, Burger King tried to win back its second rank, and more fast-food news of 2012

Pizza Hut threw pizza parties, McDonald's launched a pretzel burger, and Burger King debuted a bacon sundae.

Every year, fast-food chains slowly expand overseas, launch new menu items, and try out new marketing themes. And while certain things, like the McRib's return, are an annual occurrence everyone expects to happen, other items (looking at you, dessert nachos) always capture the media's attention.

Fast-casual chains like Applebee's don't count, but the chain's moves to be a more urban, hip establishment were mimicked by the fast-food category; other chains tried to add gourmet touches to their mass produced menus, launching "fresher" takes on classic menu items. There were some marketing faux pas along the way, some drama about politics, and a new movement to increase the wages of those working in the industry.

So here it is: the year in fast food. Whether you're a fan of McDonald's, a Burger King advocate, or simply one who wants validation for their anti-fast-food habits, these stories look back on whether the fast-food chains of today are the same as those of yesteryear. And In-N-Out fans? Well, there weren't any expansions this year, so you're out of luck.

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Click through our slideshow to see what happened in fast food in 2012.