The Real Reason These Famous Fast Food Items Were Suddenly Discontinued

By Jake SchroederLast Updated Apr 2, 2020 5:28:56 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Szabo Viktor/Unsplash

Believe it or not, there was a time when Americans were much less concerned about healthier food options and just wanted an old-fashioned greasy cheeseburger when they ate fast food. These days, burgers are less popular, and fast food chains like to add new items to their menus on a regular basis to attract new customers and keep the regulars coming back for more.

That means items get discontinued regularly to make way for the new, and it can be heartbreaking when your favorites start to disappear. Let's take a look at some popular discontinued items that loyal diners want back.

Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Biscuit

What's better than brunch on a lazy morning after sleeping in? Absolutely nothing. So, why not combine the savory meal with the convenience of fast food? When Chick-fil-A released its Spicy Chicken Biscuit, fans were in love with the idea.

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Photo Courtesy: Chick-fil-A

Unfortunately, it was pulled from the menu in 2016, although the non-spicy version remains. (It’s a chicken place, after all.) The original doesn't seem to satisfy those who loved the spicy biscuit. The sandwich gained such a fan following that a Twitter account was made in its honor. Maybe if it tweets @chikfila enough times, the restaurant will resurrect it from the dead.

McDonald's Fried Apple Pie

You may know all about McDonald's apple pies, but did you know the pies used to be fried? Yep, it was a delicious, flaky, perfectly fried treat. Sadly, in an attempt to make the menu more health-conscious, it was removed from the rotation in the 1990s and replaced by a much less delicious baked apple pie.

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Photo Courtesy: McDonald's

To make matters worse, the baked version is only marginally healthier than the original, clocking in at the same number of calories and only 3 fewer grams of fat. Then, in a truly ironic twist, the baked version added 10 carbs. McDonald's, we're begging you — fry the pie!

McDonald's 50 Piece Chicken McNuggets

50 nuggets for $10? Challenge accepted. Where did this amazingly cheap deal go? It's like we blinked, and it was gone faster than we could finish the order. So, here's the deal. At the same time this was going on, McDonald's was competing with Burger King to see who could sell the cheapest nuggets.

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Photo Courtesy: McDonald's

They were receiving a lot of criticism for the quality of their food, as higher-quality fast food chains like Chipotle began to gain popularity. Because of this, McDonald's and Burger King looked to other factors for purchasing fast food: budget.

Burger King Cheesy Tots

Remember the iconic scene in Napoleon Dynamite when the school's bully tried to force Napoleon into giving him some of his tots? Napoleon (rightfully) refused, only to have his tots ruined by the bottom of the bully's sneakers.

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Photo Courtesy: Burger King

Fans of tots flocked to Burger King after seeing this movie to see what all the hype was about for the Cheesy Tots. As it turned out, they were super legit. Unfortunately, the cheesy tots were here and gone, with only one brief encore appearance in 2016. Maybe we just need another cult film with a famous tot’s scene to get this item back on the menu.

KFC Hot and Spicy Popcorn Chicken

The good news is a related version of this chicken still exists. The popularity of the item prompted KFC to bring back a toned down version in the form of popcorn nuggets, but the hot and spicy version seems to be gone for good.

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Photo Courtesy: KFCMalaysia/YouTube

One unconfirmed theory is that the spicy popcorn chicken took too long to make, so the company pulled it from the menu. Of course, KFC hates to upset its customers, so you can still buy these bad boys in the frozen section at your local grocery store — depending on where you live.

McDonald's Arch Deluxe

Feeling fancy, but you don't get paid until Friday? For a brief period in the '90s, McDonald's had the answer to your problem. They unveiled a "sophisticated Big Mac," consisting of two quarter-pound beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, peppered bacon, tomatoes and onions.

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Photo Courtesy: McDonald's

Many fans weren’t impressed with the idea, and after throwing away $150 million in marketing for the burger, McDonald's pulled it from its menu, much to the chagrin of the loyal fan base who did love it. Burger connoisseurs were bummed to see it leave the menu, claiming it was the best fast food burger ever made.

Taco Bell Waffle Taco

The waffle taco started as one of the few items on Taco Bell's breakfast menu, and it looked and tasted exactly like it sounded. Whatever you would typically eat for breakfast — bacon, sausage, eggs and cheese — was wrapped in a waffle that folded to make the "shell," and it was all topped with delicious maple syrup.

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Photo Courtesy: FM1156/YouTube

It was dubbed the "next generation of breakfast," but the tasty creation only spent a year on the menu before being beaten out by the Biscuit Taco. It has now joined the ranks of discontinued items that have petitions campaigning to put them back on the menu.

McDonald's McHotDog

McDonald's makes an appearance quite often on this list, mainly because their discontinued items were delicious and are sorely missed. The McHotDog had a brief stint in Midwest restaurants in 1995. Rumor has it the founder of McDonald's never would have approved, outright stating in the past that he never wanted that item on the menu.

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Photo Courtesy: JunkFoodTasterDotCom/YouTube

He commented, "There’s no telling what’s inside a hot dog’s skin, and our standard of quality just wouldn’t permit that kind of item." Fans of the popular tailgate meat would disagree. If you're one of these fans, you might still be able to find it in some Japanese branches.

Taco Bell Cheesarito

There really wasn’t much to the Taco Bell Cheesarito. It was a tortilla stuffed with almost inappropriate amounts of gooey cheese, scallions and Taco Bell's elusive "taco sauce." The cheese was the star on this one — no meat to complicate things.

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Photo Courtesy: theimpulsivebuy/Flickr

Although it was simple, it was also delicious, and the vegetarian meal was extremely convenient to eat on the go. Fans of the cheesy fast food item were more than a little disappointed when it was removed from the menu. However, if you're a real fan, listen up! This item is still carried on Taco Bell's secret menu for all to enjoy. Ask about it!

Burger King Chicken Tenders

This one has an interesting mystery attached to it. Burger King claims it never actually had Chicken Tenders on the menu. Does that mean the thousands of fans expressing their love for them on Facebook were wrong? On a popular page titled "Bring Back Burger King's Chicken Tenders," fans expressed their dismay, and they were heard.

Photo Courtesy: FAST Food Pit Stops/YouTube

BK caved and "brought back" the tenders but also told fans the food had never existed before on their menu. Was it a crazy case of the Mandela Effect in action? All we know for sure is the tenders recently showed up on the menu, whether they were an item before or part of an alternate reality.

Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets

When the news broke that Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets would no longer be on the menu, it disappointed a lot of fans, prompting Wendy's to write an apology letter to loyal customers. "You wrote, called and tweeted us to voice your frustration," executives wrote. "We do understand you're hurting right now, and no logic or reasoning will satisfy your desire to, once again, taste those little nuggets of spice and fire."

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Photo Courtesy: Wendy's

This controversy got so out of hand that Chance the Rapper took matters into his own hands, tweeting for Wendy's to bring them back — and they finally agreed! You go, Chance!

Taco Bell Grilled Stuft Nacho

After only one year on the menu, this cheesy, crunchy, triangular burrito was removed, shocking Grilled Stuft Nacho lovers everywhere. It’s similar to the Crunchwrap Supreme, which consists of ground beef, creamy nacho cheese sauce, spicy nacho sauce, red tortilla strips and sour cream, all wrapped up in a large flour tortilla and grilled.

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Photo Courtesy: HellthyJunkFood/YouTube

Regardless, the Crunchwrap Supreme doesn’t seem to satisfy the Stuft fans. Is it the nostalgia factor? Maybe. Hey, if Taco Bell is anything like Wendy's, we might get it back if our tweets are persistent. Can someone please start a petition?


Jack in the Box Cheesy Macaroni Bites

When these bites were introduced in 2008, the marketing tactic focused on your ability to eat them safely in your car versus regular mac and cheese that requires a bowl and a spoon. After all, doesn't everyone want a driver-friendly way to eat macaroni?

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Photo Courtesy: ButtercupFan 01/YouTube

Despite the crazy logic, the bites were a huge hit — fried cheese is always genius — and fans of the finger food bites haven't been able to find anything similar to satisfy their cravings. The removal of this item was a crying shame for hungry drivers everywhere.


Burger King Crown Shaped Nuggets

Did the Crown Shaped Nuggets taste any different than regular nuggets? No, but they were adorably cute, and it was easy to believe the cool shape somehow made them taste a lot better.

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Photo Courtesy: Andres Galdamez/Change

These nuggets lasted a long time on the menu, running from 2006-2011. They came with your choice of sauce, just like other nuggets. A valiant effort to bring back the nuggets resulted in various petitions, but it’s a no so far. That’s too bad, considering it’s easy to stand behind anything that makes you feel like a kid again. Bring them back, BK!


McDonald's Angus Burger

Take another shot at making your McDonald’s burger fancier? Enter the Angus burger. Once again, McDonald's attempted to make a menu item that appealed to customers with more refined palates. The burger consisted of 100% Angus beef, smoky Angus sauce, hickory-smoked bacon bits, lettuce, tomato, cheese and grilled onions.

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Photo Courtesy: McDonald's

And once again, the plan failed, and the burger was taken off the menu in 2013. Presumably, it was related to the rising price of beef, which at the time was at an all-time high. Gourmet burger lovers wept, as they had to turn back to inferior options or spring for restaurant burgers.


McDonald's McSalad Shakers

McDonald's has tried many times to give their menu a healthy facelift. The McSalad Shakers made a brief appearance in 2000 before McDonald's unveiled their line of Premium Salads. The shakers came in garden, chef and grilled chicken Caesar and were basically salads in a cup.

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Photo Courtesy: Rewind Me/YouTube

They were given a fair chance, remaining on the menu for three years, but were finally pulled due to poor sales. Still, fans of fast food salad were bummed when they could no longer order the shakers in their convenient, on-the-go packaging.


Taco Bell XXL Chalupa

The XXL Chalupa consisted of ground beef, freshly shredded lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes, crispy red tortilla strips, taco sauce and cheddar cheese — lots and lots of cheddar cheese. The best part? It came with a low price tag of $2.99.

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Photo Courtesy: CoasterNick3157/YouTube

It was hard to find something better or more filling on the menu, and plenty of fans are demanding the super-sized item be brought back. It’s not to be confused with the Double Chalupa, which for this cult following isn't nearly big enough. According to some estimates, it was well over 50% larger than the Double. When you’re hungry, the Double just doesn't measure up.


Pizza Hut Taco Pizza

Let's start off by saying there's actually a Facebook page titled "Hey Pizza Hut, Bring Back the Taco Pizza." If this PSA isn't enough to convince you of its amazing appeal, this pizza combined two very popular food indulgences.

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Photo Courtesy: Rick Gutleber/Flickr

The original ad described it as a "pizza-looking, taco-tasting pizza" that was topped with cheese, refried beans, beef, lettuce and tomatoes. It was served with a side of Picante sauce. Unfortunately, this pizza hasn't been on the menu since the '70s, but fans would still be up for a Taco Pizza revamp. It sounds like the perfect addition at a Taco Bell-Pizza Hut duo restaurant.


McDonald's McPizza

Although this short-lived McDonald’s menu item may sound bizarre, the discontinuation of the McPizza had little to do with the actual taste. Available in flavors ranging from plain cheese to pepperoni and sausage, this family-sized (later turned personal-sized) pizza took 11 minutes to cook — about 10 minutes longer than most fast food diners expect to wait for their food.

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Photo Courtesy: Alan Hardman/Unsplash

Since the unfortunate removal, fans have taken to the internet to insist the 11-minute wait would be worth it. Rumor has it that a few rebel locations still carried it until 2017, when McDonald's corporate demanded that they stop.


Pizza Hut Triple Decker Pizza

The goal for this pizza was to stuff as much cheese into every corner of the pizza as possible. Of course, the name was slightly deceiving — it didn’t include three crust layers. The pizza had a thin bottom crust, a layer of cheese and another layer of thin crust topped with sauce and cheese and toppings, just like any other pizza.

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Photo Courtesy: Analog Memories/YouTube

This nightmare of the lactose intolerant made its debut in the late '90s. Other chains have since tried to duplicate it, but nothing compares to the original. If you want to jump on the bring-it-back bandwagon for this cheesy pie, there’s a whole Facebook page dedicated to the Triple Decker’s glory days.


Taco Bell Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos and Cool Ranch Tacos

It was a super sucker punch to the stomach when these tacos disappeared. Fans of the chip-taco hybrid were outraged when these items recently disappeared from the Taco Bell menu — along with 28 other beloved items. The idea was actually pretty genius. How do you beat a classic taco from Taco Bell wrapped in your favorite chip indulgence, Doritos?

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Photo Courtesy: Taco Bell

Taco Bell isn't completely savage, apparently. The nacho cheese version has stayed on the menu — so far. There’s nothing else on the menu that compares to the savory taste of the cool ranch taco. It satisfied the ultimate craving. What are we supposed to eat at 2 a.m. now?!


Burger King Cini Minis

Branded by Burger King as "delicious bite-size cinnamon rolls from the heart of the bun," these delightful cinnamon rolls were the perfect pick-me-up in the morning. They debuted in 1998, and fans have never forgotten about the delectable flavors of creamy icing and sweet cinnamon filling.

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Photo Courtesy: Rewind Me/YouTube

A couple of years after the item was pulled, a petition started circulating on the internet, demanding the return of the minis. Burger King, if you're not going to bring the treat back, at least share the secret to getting the buns so gooey, yet so flaky. The fans need to know!


Taco Bell Kit-Kat Chocoladilla

Most people don't realize that Taco Bell has carried desserts besides the Cinnamon Twists. For a short time in 2017, they rolled out the Kit-Kat Chocoladilla. This delicious dessert item consisted of melted Kit-Kats in a flour tortilla and was part of the dollar menu.

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Photo Courtesy: Top Variety & Headlines Today/YouTube

Of course, simplicity is sometimes all you need, because the dessert was strange but delightful. They also experimented with Twix but pulled it from the menu shortly after rolling it out. You could attempt these desserts at home, but most people agree that nothing compared to the crunchiness the restaurants were somehow able to achieve.


McDonald's Triple Double Burger

The Triple Double Burger — often referred to as the "superhero burger" — was released in 1995 as part of a promotion for the movie Batman Forever, despite having no mention of "Batman," "Forever" or anything Gotham related to its name. It consisted of three large beef patties (the triple part) and two slices of cheese (the double part).

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Photo Courtesy: McDonald's

Fans of the basic beef patty times three were upset to realize it was removed from the menu shortly after the movie premiered. Perhaps we could nudge McDonald's into making a "Joker" themed Triple Double Burger revamp?


Sonic's French Toaster

Sweet or savory? That's a common question you ask yourself at brunch. Well, Sonic set out to solve this massive dilemma by answering the question with another question: Why not have both? Sonic wedged two eggs and two slices of bacon between two generously sized slices of French toast, and the crowd went wild.

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Photo Courtesy: Wreckless Eating/YouTube

Unfortunately, it was pulled from the menu and replaced with a somewhat similar Breakfast Toaster, which replaced the French toast with Texas toast, putting us right back at square one: savory or sweet? Sonic, you had solved the age-old brunch question. Why did you have to mess with a good thing?


McDonald's Chicken Nugget Szechuan Sauce

You can talk all you want about the quality of the nuggets — the sauce makes or breaks the nugget experience. Apparently, McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce was the sauce to beat, because people went crazy for it. The elusive sauce was part of a promotion for the movie Mulan and always had an expected short-term life.

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Photo Courtesy: YouTube

However, people fell in love with it, much to the franchise's surprise. Because of this, they bring it back from time to time, but it has never returned permanently. Fans have taken to and currently have more than 25,000 signatures on a petition to bring it back. It’s definitely all about the sauce.


Arby's Sourdough Melts

Arby's Sourdough Melts were first introduced in the early 2000s but were discontinued in the mid-2000s after a few great years. The delicious sandwiches included tender oven-roasted beef or ham topped with a tangy cheese sauce or a slice of Swiss on two pieces of sourdough bread. And you could get two for $3! You had to love that deal.

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Photo Courtesy: Oksana Osadchuk/YouTube

As an "elevated" level of fast food cuisine, they were a hit. Not many other fast food places made sandwiches with sourdough, and the oven-roasted ham was hard to beat. Bringing this amazing sourdough melt back would definitely be a cause worth supporting.


KFC Double Down

The KFC Double Down was probably capable of giving you a heart attack just thinking about it. At first glance, it sounded like your average run of the mill sandwich: bacon, cheese, sauce. Here's the catch — instead of bread, the ingredients were placed between two pieces of fried chicken.

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Photo Courtesy: DancingBacons/YouTube

This joke of a sandwich was taken off KFC's menu almost as quickly as it was added, but its short run still gained quite the cult following. This prompted a brief return in 2014 to appease the Double Down lovers. Stay tuned to see if this beloved sandwich makes another return in the future.


McDonald's Onion Nuggets

Yet another item only offered in the '70s, onion nuggets were breaded and fried onion bits that were sold on the value menu. This unique item was something that most people hadn't seen before. Onion rings were a traditional fried staple, but this twist on the age-old fried food added a fun side to your burger.

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Photo Courtesy: WatchMojo/YouTube

Unfortunately, the food was a bit too unique at the time, and its success was short-lived. It would probably be a hit in today's world, so maybe McDonald's should consider a return in the near future.


Popeyes Big Easy Chicken Bowl

The Big Easy Chicken Bowl made its debut in 2005 and consisted of pretty much anything that Popeye's could find in their kitchen, including white meat chicken, spicy Cajun gravy, red beans, rice and shredded cheese. This New Orleans-inspired dish was the ultimate comfort food, and it proved, yet again, that Popeye's can do a lot with a little.

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Photo Courtesy: Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos/Flickr

With the perfect amount of spice, it reminded you of your grandmother's homecooked soup. Unfortunately, this cheap bowl of everything was removed from the menu in 2015. Since then, new management has taken over the chain, and retired items show no signs of returning.