Have you ever returned to your favorite fast-food restaurant, excited to pick up that one special item, only to realize that it was gone? The world of fast-casual dining is cutthroat, and businesses have sacrificed some truly legendary menu items in the name of innovation and progress. Millions of people have lost their go-to's over the years. Some suffer in silence while others take action by writing petitions, forming social media fan groups, mass-Tweeting, and so much more. Some are even successful!
However, the vast majority of items that vanished are yet to make their return. From thick potato wedges to double-decker pizzas, you may never see some of your favorites again… or will you?
In America, fries are a fast-food staple. Until recently, KFC was among those that stood against the tide of fry lovers, supplying only its beloved potato wedges. A few years ago, KFC announced that they were testing fries that featured its famous blend of 11 herbs and spices. However, this new item came at a cost: the removal of the potato wedges from its menu. Wedge fans the world over lamented the loss of the chunky side, taking to social media to blast the restaurant. Some even launched petitions, but the wedges show no sign of returning any time soon.
Over the years, McDonald's has made some pretty significant changes to its menu in attempts to appeal to a consumer base that was continually looking for healthier options. Vegans and vegetarians everywhere celebrated when McDonald's swapped to using vegetable oil for its fries rather than beef fat. However, this enraged many customers who felt that the new, healthier fries had lost their signature flavor. While it is extremely unlikely that beef tallow fries will ever return, committed fans can whip some up at home.
In 2006, Jack in the Box introduced its cheesy macaroni bites to the world. Advertisements for these strange treats made the absolutely wild claim that these bites were safer to eat while driving than other foods due to their unique triangular shape. Evidently, many people were waiting for a way to eat macaroni and cheese in the car because these salty little bites quickly became cult favorites. The restaurant currently has no plans to bring back its accident-preventing cheese snacks.
In many ways, Sonic feels like the survivor of a long-forgotten era. Except for some specific regions, drive-ins like Sonic are few and far between. In its effort to survive the test of time, Sonic has had to shuffle its menu quite a few times. However, few menu items are as missed as the French Toaster. This sandwich included eggs, cheese, and your choice of bacon or sausage between two massive slices of French toast. Introduced in 2015, Sonic quickly replaced this with the clearly inferior Breakfast Toaster. Most Sonics still offer French toast sticks, so you could make a messier version of the French Toaster if you're craving the sweet-but-savory meal.
Many people cringed at the idea when Taco Bell first tried to get into the breakfast game. Other than breakfast burritos, what could the chain offer? Sales of Taco Bell breakfast items were too low to justify their existence. Taco Bell's answer to this was the revolutionary waffle taco. A taco in name only, the waffle taco was a soft, foldable waffle with some fluffy scrambled eggs and sausage. Taste testers adored the new item, but actual customers were still hesitant to order breakfast items. Taco Bell pulled the waffle taco from menus within a year of its debut in 2014. Perhaps a messy pseudo-taco wasn't the best choice for sleep-deprived, early-morning customers. Currently, there are no plans to reintroduce the waffle taco.
Pizza Hut has never been one for avoiding experimentation. This is the brand responsible for popularizing stuffed crust pizza, after all. One of the chain's stranger inventions was the Big Flavors Dippers pizza. This was essentially a two-foot-long pizza, cut into 24 small, dippable slices. You received dipping sauces like ranch, barbecue, and honey sriracha with each order. The Dippers pizza was originally released in 2016 and had a brief run in 2020. Nothing is stopping you from dipping normal pizza slices, so maybe this one doesn't need a comeback.
Few things are as authentically American as stacking multiple pizzas together and making it your signature dish. In many ways, the triple decker was Pizza Hut's Big Mac. This 90s novelty included a crust and all the traditional toppings that people loved sitting on top of a cheese layer and a second crust. This cheese monstrosity blurred the lines between pizza and calzone in a way that left fans clamoring for its return over 20 years later. However, Pizza Hut did bring back The Edge pizza, so there's always hope.
Despite the slogan "Think outside the bun," Taco Bell was once very firmly within the bun. In the late 70s, Taco Bell attempted to fight the larger burger chains like McDonald's and Burger King with the Bell Beefer. On top of having the least appetizing name imaginable, this sandwich was also pretty bland. It included taco meat, lettuce, onions, and Border Sauce on hamburger buns, making it little more than a sloppy joe. The Beefer somehow lasted until the mid-90s and had a slight comeback in 2010. If you believe internet rumors, the Beefer will return again in 2023, but there's little evidence supporting these claims.
Anyone who paid attention to the fast-casual dining world in the early 2000s knows how much of a juggernaut Subway was. Other restaurants struggled to compete against the claims of weight loss and "healthier" offerings, though many tried. Wendy's decided to enter the deli-style sandwich game and challenge Subway in its own backyard. The Frescata sandwich line included the Roasted Turkey & Swiss, Frescata Club, Black Forest Ham & Swiss, and Chunky Chicken Salad Frescata. After introducing the sandwiches in April 2006, Wendy's removed them from the menu in December 2007, citing poor sales and long preparation times.
The Arch Deluxe is one of those menu items that you either have a strong recollection of or absolutely no idea that it ever existed. Honestly, McDonald's would probably prefer that you forget about it. The restaurant threw $150 million in 90s bucks at marketing this burger, which contained a quarter-pound beef patty, lettuce, cheese, special sauce, peppered bacon, onions, and tomato, on a sesame seed bun. If this sounds like a slightly different Big Mac, you're right! Customers viewed it as a more expensive version of the classic burger and almost universally ignored it, making it one of history's biggest fast-food flops. Over 20 years later, McDonald's tried releasing the Archburger in 2018, a clear throwback to its historic failure. The Archburger was only available in a few markets and has disappeared entirely in the years since. Maybe America just isn't ready for the Big Mac 2?
One of the more infamous examples of discontinued food items, the McPizza, first entered the scene in the late 80s. McDonald's originally introduced it as a family-sized pizza that an employee would lay on a raised rack on your table. After some testing, the restaurant scaled the McPizza down in size. After expanding the McPizza to over 500 test locations, McDonald's put the McPizza on hold because it took nearly 11 minutes to cook. Most restaurants discontinued the item by the year 2000. However, if you're really craving that McPizza taste, a single McDonald's in Orlando, Florida, still offers it.
If you somehow missed the craze for McDonald's Szechuan sauce, we envy you. This tangy condiment was originally a tie-in with the movie "Mulan" in 1998. However, in 2017, the animated dark comedy series "Rick and Morty" prominently featured Szechuan sauce, launching an impossible demand for the now 20-year-old condiment. McDonald's responded to the hype by briefly bringing back Szechuan sauce in 2017 and 2018. It is unknown when McDonald's plans to release the sauce again.
Whataburger is one of those restaurants that constantly comes up in arguments about what place makes the best burgers, but this Texas-based chain wasn't always just a burger joint. In the early 2000s, Whataburger introduced steak fajitas to its menu and quickly found a very passionate fanbase. Despite it being a cult favorite, the chain removed the fajita from its menu. Confusingly, Whataburger would later add chicken fajita tacos to its menu, so perhaps a steak fajita comeback is possible.
The year is 1978. You and your friends just saw "Superman" in theaters and decided to head to McDonald's to pick up some brand new onion nuggets. Except, no, you didn't, because nobody bought the onion nuggets. These wet, unappealing nuggets are even older than McDonald's chicken McNuggets and were a poor attempt to attract vegetarian customers. However, with the current focus on plant-based foods and healthier options, McDonald's may attempt to re-release these fried onion discs with a tastier recipe.
Anyone who was alive in the 90s probably remembers the push for quick, tasty breakfast options. While McDonald's chose to launch its now-signature breakfast burritos, Burger King decided to step into the ring and challenge Cinnabon with Cini-minis. As the admittedly adorable name implies, these were miniature cinnamon rolls that were legitimately delicious. To this day, 90s kids look back fondly on feasting on these little sweet treats. Burger King briefly brought back the Cini-Minis in 2018, but only when ordering through Grubhub. While this promotion is no longer available, there are plenty of copycat recipes available online to help you recapture that warm, gooey nostalgia.
Around 40 years ago, Pizza Hut changed the fast-food scene by unveiling the taco pizza. This blend of taco and pizza was surprisingly good, with a mix of lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and ground beef. The flat, foldable dough was far superior to the mess that is a traditional taco shell. Despite its success, Pizza Hut removed the taco pizza from their menus — or so we thought. According to some internet posts, you can still order a taco pizza by name from many Pizza Huts. Alternatively, most Pizza Huts let you create a custom pizza that just so happens to perfectly resemble a taco pizza.
When you first set eyes on KFC's Double Down, you probably had one of two reactions. You either thought it was the most horrid creation mankind had ever developed or wanted one immediately. The Double Down is a sandwich — and we use that term loosely — of cheese, bacon, and special sauce between two deep-fried chicken filet. Despite its appearance, whatever mad scientist came up with the Double Down created a hit. Even after removing it from the menu, popular demand forced KFC to bring the Double Down back in 2014, so you may see it again.
Sometimes, a restaurant adds a new item, and it's an immediate hit. Dairy Queen's Breeze was not one of these items. The chain had good intentions, but customers are often fickle. Dairy Queen released the Breeze as a healthier alternative to the restaurant's signature Blizzard. Rather than soft-serve, the Breeze contained frozen yogurt. Plus, it was released at the height of the froyo craze in the 90s, so DQ was sure it would be a success. Unfortunately, DQ customers simply didn't care for the Breeze. Despite lackluster sales, it took almost ten years to pull it from the menu. It's unclear if the Queen has any plans to bring the Breeze back, but there is very little online support for the frozen treat.
Up until 1992, McDonald's pies were deep-fried, not baked. As concerns about healthy eating began to mount, McDonald's chose to swap to a healthier cooking option, sacrificing the taste of the original pies. For decades, many franchises held out and continued to offer the fried alternative, though nearly all have swapped over to the inferior baked versions. That being said, there's still hope for trying the legendary fried pies, but you might need to hop on a plane. McDonald's restaurants in Hawaii still offer deep-fried pies, as do many international locations.
Above all else, McDonald's has consistently focused on speed and convenience. You can see this in its signature Happy Meal or Big Mac, but nowhere is it more clear than the McSalad shaker. Essentially, the McSalad shaker was a salad in a cup… and that's about it. But it was honestly a revolutionary way to pack a salad on the go. While you can still grab a salad at McDonald's, they now come in more traditional packaging. If you're really wanting to recapture the shaker magic, you could just shove it in a cup yourself.