Everyone has go-tos at their favorite fast food spots. When you crave McDonald’s breakfast, your Egg McMuffin fix is just a drive-thru away. That's the great thing about fast food spots, the menu generally stays the same.
But what happens when a craving for a 7-Layer Burrito laced with fiery Diablo sauce sends you racing to Taco Bell only to discover it missing from the menu? It happens often, new menu items are tested, then introduced to consumer waters to either sink or swim. The reason isn’t always based on popularity though, as even successful items get discontinued sometimes.
It sometimes feels like fast food spots discontinue things just to play with our emotions. That’s why I’ve put together a list of menu items that deserve a comeback.
The Bigfoot Pizza — Pizza Hut
Release Date: 1993
Pizza Hut released The Bigfoot pizza to compete with the Lil' Caesars' massive-sized "Big! Big! Cheese." The Bigfoot was perfect for parties, as it measured 21-inches by 24-inches and came in 21 slices. Sadly, employees found it to be a logistical problem — it required special pans and dough which tore easily. As a result, lots of food was wasted and profits were lost.
Breakfast Bagels — McDonald's
Although McMuffins rule breakfast at McDonald’s, there’s been many items added over the years. Breakfast Bagels were surprisingly discontinued during the pandemic. The company cited streamlining operations as the reason, giving it the axe, along with several others. The removal sparked a petition for its return. Whether or not it influenced McDonald’s decision to bring bagels back to Michigan last year is unknown.
Crown-Shaped Nuggets — Burger King
Burger King took their branding to new levels with the release of crown-shaped chicken nuggets. It was a fun and seemingly popular addition to their menu that mysteriously disappeared. Although the reason behind the discontinuation is unknown, some say Burger King felt that they were too childlike, which made it harder to compete with McDonald’s. To the surprise of fans, in 2021, the company brought back crown-shaped nuggets, but only at select locations in Miami for a limited time.
Double Decker Taco — Taco Bell
With a delicious concept and Shaq cameo in a commercial narrated by Keith David — the famous voice actor behind HBO’s Spawn and 90s animated-show Gargoyles — there was no way Taco Bell’s Double Decker Taco wouldn’t succeed. It’s a simple idea really: a hard shell taco wrapped in a soft taco that’s held together by a layer of refried beans. Lovers of both types could enjoy the best of both worlds. Sadly, the duo of deliciousness wasn’t enough to keep Taco Bell from discontinuing it in 2019. Since then, fans have flooded the web with attempts at replicating the original.
McPlant Burger — McDonald's
Released: January 2022
Discontinued: August 2022
Hoping to lure health conscious customers, McDonald’s partnered with Beyond Meat on the McPlant Burger. What seemed like a no-brainer ultimately resulted in a McFlop. An initial test-run at 600 locations showed that most customers weren’t really into it. The reason why it was removed is less about taste than it is about necessity. It featured the same toppings as the beef burger, which means it wasn’t truly plant-based. That made it unappealing to regular customers and new potentials. Also, McDonald’s fast food values didn’t quite align with Beyond Meat’s sustainable branding.
7-Layer Burrito — Taco Bell
The name of this burrito alone was enough to get your mouth salivating. Taco Bell’s famed 7-Layer Burrito was made with tomatoes, refried beans, seasoned rice, three cheeses, low-fat sour cream, guacamole, and lettuce wrapped in a large burrito. In other words, everything burrito dreams are made of. It was discontinued on August 13, 2020 in what the company says was an effort to streamline its menu.
Potato Wedges — KFC
Released: Early 1990s
In the ever-rotating world of fast food menus, sometimes items are removed for no good reason. KFC’s Potato Wedges are the perfect example of deliciously perfect offerings that mysteriously got the boot. Potato Wedges and fried chicken are an iconic duo, so when the wedges were replaced with regular French fries, people weren’t pleased. Public outcry aside, KFC said it took 60 years to perfect their fry recipe. Was it really necessary to discontinue the potato wedges though?
Cajun Rice — Popeyes
Discontinued: January 2021
Easily one of the best items ever offered on a fast food menu, Popeyes' Cajun Rice is the perfect savory side to its iconic fried chicken. It’s made with Cajun and Creole seasonings mixed with bell pepper, onion, garlic, celery, and cayenne, along with ground beef and chicken. Its removal was met with petitions and thousands of tweets begging for its return. Last year, it was brought back for Popeyes’ 50th anniversary, but sadly, only for a limited time.
Kentucky Fried Chicken Flavored-Ice Cream — KFC
In 2019, KFC decided to add chicken flavored-ice cream to their menu for a limited release. It was a fun, gimmicky move that ultimately proved unsuccessful. The ice cream featured soft-serve vanilla and was served in a cornbread and gravy-flavored cone, then topped with candied chicken skin bits. While it wasn’t a hit with customers, with a few changes to the recipe, I believe it deserves another shot at a permanent menu spot.
Fresh Stuffed Pitas — Taco Bell
Fast food restaurants like to keep things interesting with a constant rotation of new menu offerings. Released in the 90s in response to a growing trend towards health, Taco Bell’s Fresh Stuffed Pitas were ahead of their time. Customers could choose between the Chicken Caesar, Garden Ranch, Veggie, or Classic Greek. Unfortunately, the Fresh Stuffed Pitas removed from the menu as the health-focused trend waned.
Pasta Bread Bowls — Domino’s Pizza
Discontinued: Available at only 65% of Domino’s locations
Few things can go wrong when you combine bread, cheese, and tomato sauce. That’s how fast food pizza spots like Domino’s are able to come up with endless variations on the delicious trio. In 2009, the company released pasta bread bowls — a seemingly genius bowl-shaped bread filled with cheesy pasta. Customers had two delicious options to choose between — Pasta Primavera or Chicken Alfredo. While the bread bowls weren’t completely removed, according to this petition, they’re only available at 65% of Domino’s locations.
Bacon Shake — Jack In The Box
KFC isn’t the only franchise that’s experimented with bringing the worlds of sweet and savory together. Jack In The Box’s Bacon Shake was released in 2012 for as “limited as limited can be.” It was only available at select locations, which made it somewhat of a Jack In The Box holy grail find. While it stirred up quite the buzz, customers that tried it didn’t seem too attracted to its sweetness. It was quietly discontinued the same year.
Beyond Orange Chicken — Panda Express
Panda Express is known for its crave-worthy Orange Chicken. It’s literally stuff of legend and was a go-to back in my mall job days. That’s why when the company announced Beyond Orange Chicken, I just knew it would be as delicious and successful as the OG. Silly me. Apparently it was only meant to be offered for a limited time. Don’t know about you, but plant-based orange chicken seems like a great business idea to me.
OREO Hot Chocolate — Dunkin’ Donuts
OREO is one of the best snacks ever invented, so when Dunkin’ released its OREO Hot Chocolate, I was first in line. Rich and flavorful, it tasted just like OREOs mixed with chocolatey marshmallows. Sadly, to the disappointment of not only myself, but countless other fans, Dunkin’ discontinued the beverage to make room for new menu items.
Mighty Wings — McDonald's
Released: 1993 & 2013
Discontinued: 2003 & 2022
Over the years Mickey D’s has tested countless food items. Some have gone on to become permanent options, while others have gone away completely. McDonald’s Mighty Wings are one such item. It was originally released in 1993 for a limited run but has been brought back several times due to popular demand. Mighty Wings were a hit but also pricier than the average McDonald’s customer was willing to pay. I say lower the cost, adjust for inflation, and bring these babies back.
Eggnog Shake — Jack In The Box
Discontinued: Holiday Season Only
Available during the holiday season for a limited time only, the Eggnog Shake from Jack In The Box is an explosion of creamy sweetness. Yes, I know that eggnog has always been a seasonal treat, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting it year-round. The shake is made with real vanilla ice cream that’s blended with eggnog flavoring and topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Admit it, some flavors are just too good to be exclusively seasonal.