Fast food items define a culture; some have staying power while others go up in flames. A handful lingers in our memory as we lick our lips in anticipation. If only we could have just one more bite.
I’m also here to tell you that while we have some irrational fond memories of these items, maybe they’re discontinued for a reason.
Big contenders like MacDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Arby’s, KFC, Jack, and Ceasar spend an enormous amount of money in the test kitchen. They’re looking for the ‘it’ factor in the next burger, potato chip, chalupa, and chicken wing.
What might surprise you is that the ‘it’ factor in the fast food items we crave is a delicate balance. Three key ingredients have us begging for more: salt, sugar, and fat.
My favorite discontinued fast food items gave me a moment of sweet indulgence. I didn’t eat them for the dietary benefits.
Discontinued Fast Food Items
Check out these fast food items that are no longer available and tell us which ones you miss the most!
Burger King’s Cini-Minis
I’m surprised there wasn’t a national protest to bring Burger King’s Cini-Minis back.
The adorable miniature cinnamon rolls were the collaboration effort between the Whopper maker and the Pillsbury dough boy.
I’m admittedly a sugar junkie. The breakfast gems arrived in the 1990s. Perhaps they didn’t belong on the breakfast menu.
The packet of icing melting on the tiny but hot crusty buns released my daily allotment of recommended endorphins.
To get your cinnamon bun fix, try an alternative like Cinnabon’s buns.
Burger King brought them back for a limited time in 2018 to tease us, but they haven’t officially returned to the BK menu.
Jack in the Box’s Cheesy Macaroni Bites
The macaroni bites were a great concept. Cheesy Macaroni Bites were mouthwatering tempura battered and fried triangles of macaroni and cheese.
Launched in 2008, the macaroni and cheese triangles should have been a permanent hit. After all, mac and cheese ranks fifth among America’s favorite comfort foods.
The crisp tempura batter and Kraft mac and cheese combined to make portable finger food with an incredible texture.
I enjoyed that they were filling, tasty, and relatively mess-free to eat. I still ended up with greasy fingers.
There were 330 calories in Mini Mac & Cheese Bites from Jack in the Box. The calories came from fat (52%), carbohydrates (36%), and Kraft ingredients.
Get your cheese fix from fast food joints that offer mac and cheese.
KFC’s Double Down
KFC’s Double Down Sandwich was perhaps a coronary in waiting.
I became a fan when I took one bite of this savory concoction in 2010. Created for carb-conscious diners, it contained fried chicken, bacon, Monterey Jack, pepper jack cheese, and a special blend of the Colonel’s sauce.
Double Down was always a limited-time offer sandwich, but people gravitated to its traditional yet exciting flavor bomb.
Customers bought nearly 10 million KFC Double Down sandwiches and are still wondering when it is coming back.
Surprisingly, the calorie count in a Double Down makes a Big Mac look like diet food.
For those looking for a 610-calorie sandwich with 59% calories from fat, this one may be coming back.
KFC’s Potato Wedges
Until the fall of 2021, KFC had potato wedges on the menu.
In a flash, they replaced them with Secret Recipe Fries. It’s hard to say which potato fry I love more.
The crisp taste and texture of the SRFs are fantastic but, despite the secret recipe, not that unique.
A serving size of 108g contained 270 calories, 43% from fat and 51% from carbs. The large size format had 1120 calories. Eek!
McDonald’s Arch Deluxe Burger
Mcdonald’s doesn’t usually miss when they launch a product, but the Arch Deluxe was an epic fail.
Not even Jessica Biel could save this gourmet burger from doom in 1996.
The gourmet arch burger contained a juicy quarter-pound patty, topped with bacon and Arch sauce.
It failed catastrophically to lure parents to join their children at McDonald’s. I think someone overlooked the dining atmosphere factor.
To combat the 560 calories contained between two buns, 67% calories from fat and a solid 24% from protein, you’d have to run for an hour.
To put the failure in perspective, McDonald’s sells 6.48 million burgers per day. It’s why they’re a successful restaurant franchise.
McDonald’s McSalad Shakers
Seriously, McSalad Shakers should have been a hit! McDonald’s thought outside the box with McSalad Shakers.
Consumers demanded a healthier alternative, they complied, and consumers didn’t want them.
There’s a sad truth behind this failure. When customers enter a fast food conglomerate, they want fast food.
We don’t want a healthy chef, garden, or Caesar salad kind of fast food. I usually enjoyed the salads on those days when I needed to feel good about my choices.
These salads had a good mix of green salad, julienne ham or turkey, cheddar or jack cheese, green onions, and chopped tomato in a to-go cup.
Sadly, while the calorie count was low, with 150 calories for the chef salad, the fat content was still high (48%).
Shake Shack Chicago Hot Dog
Darn it! The pandemic even infected my all-time favorite guilty pleasure.
Shake Shack Chicago Hot Dog took the brunt and is in recovery mode. Shake Shack had to make difficult changes to its menu and restaurants to comply with the state of things.
The Shake Shack Chicago Hot Dog was one of those items that you felt guilty about eating. When you bit into that pink tube of deliciousness, the guilt vanished.
Served between two halves of a soft bun, topped with a slathering of condiments, the hot dog was delicious.
A Shake Shack Chicago Hot Dog contained 390 calories and 59% fat. Check out other Shake Shack favorites you can still get.
Sonic’s French Toaster
What do you get when you combine two slices of French toast, a neatly folded omelet, your choice of bacon or sausage, and a piece of cheese? A discontinued Sonic French Toaster breakfast sandwich!
Although it didn’t survive long on Sonic’s menu, a Texas toast imposter bullied it out of the way; people still crave the savory sweet sandwich.
According to a Sonic spokesperson, the French Toaster was to partner with the success of the French Toast Sticks. If you read the small print, the French Toaster was always a limited edition.
The calorie count for the bacon version brought the sandwich to 680 calories, 270 from fat.
While I enjoyed the maple taste, I found that it took over the sandwich.
Taco Bell’s XXL Chalupa
Fans of Taco Bell’s XXL Chalupa devoured the 2010 super-sized masa shell.
Loaded with seasoned ground beef, taco sauce, a generous sprinkling of cheese, crunchy lettuce, and sour cream, it satisfied the taste buds of many, including mine.
Chalupa’s resemble a ship’s hull (hence the name), and Taco Bell tried to relaunch the XXL twice.
Fans were disappointed to learn that the XXL Chalupa was never a permanent menu item. They loved the affordable price tag.
I enjoyed the spicy taste and can appreciate that the replacement Double Chalupa disappointed fans.
An XXL Chalupa Steak contained 590 calories, 50% from fat.
Taco Bell’s menu recently added their famous Mexican pizza back, so maybe they’ll bring this one back too!
Wendy’s Frescata Sandwiches
It’s hard to know what Dave, who passed in 2002, would have thought about Wendy’s Frescata Sandwiches.
As a burger baron, Dave understood what it took to stay competitive.
Wendy’s believed Frescata Deli sandwiches were the ticket. While it was commendable to tap into the deli segment and try to take market share from Subway, Blimpies, and Quiznos, the trick didn’t work.
People are fickle. Wendy’s customers wanted beef burgers. In my opinion, it should have worked.
The freshly baked bread and the thinly sliced and layered deli meat didn’t disappoint my tastebuds.
By 2007, the Frescata trial ended. Wendy’s concentrated on beef burgers again.
McDonald’s Chicken Selects
Chicken nuggets were a hit. But consumers wanted something a little more.
The answer was a better quality chicken strip. McDonald’s Chicken Selects contained 100% chicken breast meat.
McDonald’s remains a strong contender on the chicken tender turf.
Chicken Selects remained an excellent option for customers that wanted crisp and consistent white meat and to know what they were eating.
McDonald’s stopped producing them in 2013, after an 11-year stint. Although they briefly resurfaced in 2015, consumers switched to the buttermilk crispy chicken tenders.
Eating Chicken Selects was a satisfying eating experience. They were low in calories, with 376 calories per 3 pieces and 27% from fat.
McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce
Disney collaborated with Mcdonald’s in 1998 to get support for the Box Office hit, Mulan.
McDonald’s offered Szechaun McNuggets and Szechuan sauce. It was a limited offer.
Customers received the disappointing news that the product was off the menu shortly thereafter.
In 2017, when the sauce reappeared, McDonald’s underestimated the demand. Riots broke out.
Okay, the sauce was good, but a riot? If you’re really in love with McDonald’s Szechuan sauce, watch for it to make an occasional reappearance on the app ordering system.
The savory soy sauce packs 35 carb calories into each packet.
Whataburger’s Steak Fajitas
Whataburger is a well-known burger chain spread across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and other southern states. The family-run business started in the 1950s and has seen many food fads come and go.
Fans adored the Whataburger’s Steak Fajita and gave it the moniker Whatafajita. It was a delicate fajita and sizzling grilled steak strips seasoned to perfection.
Sadly, the Steak Fajitas vanished from the Whataburger menu and die-hard fans still mourn their absence.
The succulent Whataburger Steak Fajitas made their way among the stiff competition in the Whataburger family.
The steak fajitas had a loyal following; however, the chicken fajita was just as delicious.
A 4oz steak fajita serving typically provided 329 calories and 28% from total fat.
Arby’s Potato Cakes
It wasn’t much of a battle, and Arby’s Potato Cake lovers remain dumbfounded that the Arby’s crinkle fries are permanently replacing the potato cakes.
Fans who loved the potato cakes will miss the tasty patties. The mushy crinkle fries and spicy curly fries can’t hold a candle to the irresistible potato cake’s crispy yet tender combo.
Though Arby’s spokesperson championed their fries’ success due to consumer preferences, who knows if the potato cake won’t reappear once executives figure out they’ve made a grave mistake.
A two-piece potato cake pack provided 250 calories, 57% from fat and 40% from carbs.
Discontinued Fast Food Items
- Burger King’s Cini-Minis
- Jack in the Box’s Cheesy Macaroni Bites
- KFC’s Double Down
- KFC’s Potato wedges
- McDonald’s Arch Deluxe
- McDonald’s McSalad Shakers
- McDonald’s Arch Deluxe
- Sonic’s French Toaster
- Taco Bell’s XXL Chalupa
- Wendy’s Frescata Sandwiches
- Little Caesars Pepperoni Crazy Bread
- McDonald’s Chicken Selects
- McDonald’s Szechuan sauce
- Whataburger’s Steak Fajitas
- Arby’s Potato Cakes
Discontinued fast food items have a cult following. It’s almost like these restaurants bait us with deliciousness, and suddenly they take it off the menu.
What it boils down to are profit and demand. Food conglomerates have operating costs of their restaurants down to the french fry count in the box.
In a way, that’s okay. Discontinuing items allows us to try something new. Making healthier choices when eating out isn’t difficult either. Fast food chains clamor to offer us limitless options.
While I love certain menu items from chain restaurants, I’m also an advocate for making better choices and eating at home.
Although the media sometimes bashes fast food restaurants and ridicules us for eating our favorite discontinued fast food items, there are some healthy options consumers can check out.