From Crispy Chicken Sandwich tacos at Taco Bell to the “new” fries at Wendy’s, there’s no shortage of new things to grab the attention of connoisseurs of fast food. The chicken sandwich war continues too, two years after Popeyes sparked the craze. And with many restaurant chains jacking up their prices, it’s more important than ever to keep fast food fresh and interesting.
But these mouthwatering dishes are created for more than just increasing a company’s bottom line. In fact, many of the most famous fast food products of all time haven’t generated huge profits. But they did something potentially more valuable.
“These novelty articles are about social play, getting people talking about the brand,” Danny Klein, editorial director of Food News Media, told Yahoo. “Inspirational tours, creating a new news cycle to market something else that’s happening. (They) need to come to market with something unique to put on social media and attract customers. Yum Brands (owners of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC) rely on the cultural relevance of their marketing, to get people talking.
Many of these fast food innovations had such an impact that people still remember them today. Here are some of the foods that are still stored in our brains as tasty memories.
The McRib has inspired sectarian devotion since its release in 1981, and those who haven’t since followed may wonder why. Invented by McDonald’s executive chef René Arend, the sandwich first flopped and was taken off the menu in 1985. It reappeared periodically in the 90s before going on a “farewell tour” in 2005. Now , it appears once a year, and like clockwork, people are showing up in droves to put it in their face.
Double Down (KFC)
Debuting in 2010 as a limited edition item, KFC’s Double Down was not for the health conscious. Packing bacon and cheese between slices of fried chicken instead of bread, the Double Down has nearly a day’s worth of sodium and 32 grams of fat. But that didn’t stop 10 million people ordering it in its first few months on the menu, according to KFC spokesman Rick Maynard in an interview with CNN. However, Buckingham Research analyst Mitchell Speiser told CNN that the sandwich only made up 5% of sales that year and that a new product has to be “north of 10%” to be considered a blockbuster. Much like the McRib, the Double Down has returned for limited engagements ever since, with the most recent being in the Philippines this month.
BK Chicken Fries (Burger King)
Burger King also saw the potential to repackage the way chicken was served when it launched its BK Chicken Fries in 2005. They stuck out until 2012 and were scrapped, causing a huge backlash on the market. social networks imploring the return of French fries. Some even did dedicated Twitter accounts to broadcast their position loud and clear. Burger King responded by bringing back the fries for good in 2014, telling Business Insider in an interview that the experience had taught them to always put what the guest wanted first. Since then, chicken fries have been available in Buffalo, Jalapeno, and even Cheetos flavored varieties.
Mexican Pizza (Taco Bell)
After 32 years on the menu, Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza was scrapped in 2020, causing an uproar on social media. More than 166,000 people have signed a petition asking the company to bring her back. One fan even went so far as to create a fake Halloween ad announcing his comeback. The hashtag #Mexican pizza remains active on Twitter, with some even imploring new Chief Impact Officer, Lil Nas X, to bring him back. Fan devotion is no joke, all of you.
The Great New Yorker (Pizza Hut)
This 16-inch pizza didn’t have any special features (unless you counted its folding capacity), but fans went crazy for it. Launched in 1999, Pizza Hut announced 70,000,000 pies sold in the first year of its availability. It has since fallen off the menu, but there is an ongoing Change.org petition collecting signatures and hoping to resurrect its cheesy glory. The Hut currently offers Detroit-style pizza, but it’s just not the same.
Which abandoned fast food restaurants do you most want to make a glorious comeback? Let us know in the comments.