The Wildest Fast Food Crazes of All Time
Fast-food might have originated from the simple burger-and-fries model, but it’s come a long way since then. Sure, people still love the classics, but other, crazier and sometimes more colorful menu items have also begun to appear on menus everywhere. From pumpkin spice lattes to shamrock shakes, some of these foods and drinks have even gained cult followings. These are the foods people just can’t get enough of.
McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwich all began because of the Catholic tradition of Lent, where Catholics give up meat on Fridays. One Cincinnati McDonald's took a huge hit in sales because of it, so the owner brought a fish sandwich to headquarters, got it approved and changed the game, both for his franchise and McDonald's at large. That was in 1962.
Doritos Locos Tacos
Taco Bell and Doritos came together in 2012 to create Doritos Locos Tacos, and they were an instant favorite among Taco Bell customers. Since their launch, 2.4 billion of these things have sold. Who would have thought that combining a snack food with tacos would create such a massive craze?
Popeye's Chicken Sandwich
It only took Popeyes two weeks to sell out of its chicken sandwich after it launched on August 12, 2019. Chic-Fil-A, claiming to be the originator of the chicken sandwich, didn't take Popeye's new sandwich craze very well and started a bit of a feud between the two companies on social media.
Burger King's Impossible Whopper
With vegetarianism on the rise thanks to diners' concern for the planet, the fast-food industry had to get in on the trend. Burger King partnered with Impossible Foods, one of the largest companies of faux-meat products, to give plant lovers what they wanted.
McCafe Donut Sticks
In February 2019, McDonald's began offering McCafe Donut Sticks on its breakfast menu for a limited time only. Whether it was the limited-time-offer or the Donut Sticks themselves that led to their popularity is unclear, as they only show up on the menu intermittently.
Little Caesars Impossible Supreme
The meatless trend sweeping the United States has also come to the attention of Little Caesars Pizza. Partnering with faux-meat giant Impossible, Little Caesars decided to provide a plant-based supreme pizza, called the Impossible Supreme, containing Impossible's meatless sausage, mushrooms, green peppers and caramelized onions.
KFC's Beyond Fried Chicken
The first fast-food chicken chain to launch a plant-based protein option was KFC with their Beyond Fried Chicken, and it was a huge hit. It was so popular, it sold out in only five hours after launching in January 2020. Its wild success at just 100 of its stores means the meatless chicken will eventually be released nationwide.
Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites Pizza
Pizza Hut originally launched its Cheesy Bites pizza back in the summer of 2006 for a limited time only. Customers loved it, leading to the novelty item coming back every summer since. The Cheesy Bites pizza includes 28 cheese-stuffed breadstick bites along the outside of the pizza.
Taco Bell's Crispy Tortilla Chicken Strips
Taco Bell's Crispy Tortilla Chicken Strips are a unique take on chicken fingers, a fast-food classic, that first appeared in December 2019. The restaurant chain took the fried chicken fast-food craze that began with Chic-Fil-A and brought a Mexican twist to it.
The Seasonal McRib
People seem to either love or hate the McDonald's McRib sandwich, a menu item that has been around since 1981. It was originally offered for a limited time only, and the company hasn't changed its marketing plan for the McRib since.
The Cheetos Sandwich From KFC
Combining junk food with fast food might seem like a health nightmare to some, but to others, it's a dream come true. KFC clearly sided with the latter group when it debuted its Cheetos Sandwich in July 2019. It's the orangest sandwich around, featuring Cheetos paired with a crispy chicken filet on a bun topped with a special Cheetos-flavored sauce.
Wendy's Fries Dipped in a Wendy's Frosty
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when the first person dipped fries into their Wendy's Frosty, but this crazy combo has been around for at least a couple decades. Maybe it's the salty, savory deliciousness of the fries combined with the cold sweetness of the ice cream, or maybe it's the outlandishness of this pairing that gives it so much power.
St. Patrick's Day is known for leprechauns, four-leafed clovers, and to some, the McDonald's Shamrock Shake. This seasonal mint-flavored milkshake is sold around the United States, Ireland and Canada in honor of this Irish holiday. The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of when it was originally introduced in March 1970.
Naked Chicken Chalupa
The Naked Chicken Chalupa made its first appearance on the Taco Bell menu in 2017. It replaced the hard-shell taco with a crispy fried chicken-shell taco. Inside of the "taco" was the standard, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes topped with an avocado ranch sauce.
Cherry Limeade From Sonic
Sonic has about 20 kinds of lemonades or limeades available, but nothing beats its cherry limeade, which is by far its most popular beverage. Many customers go to Sonic specifically for their cherry limeade fix even though the fast-food restaurant offers plenty of food items on their menu.
Chic-Fil-A's Waffle Fries
There is no doubt that Chick-Fil-A has become such a fast-food hit because of its chicken sandwiches. However, in 2018, its number-one hit was waffle fries. They're just potatoes cut into a criss-cross shape, but apparently that’s enough to create a craze.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte has brought the company well over a billion dollars in sales since its launch in 2003. Since then, they've relaunched it every autumn for a limited time, sending pumpkin spice and coffee lovers alike into a frenzy. The latte is by far its most popular seasonal beverage.
Subway's Meatless Meatball Sub
Subway jumped on the vegatarian trend with their Meatless Meatball Marinara sub sandwich, a collaboration with the faux-meat brand Beyond Meat. They use Beyond's vegan meatballs with their traditional and highly sought-after marinara sauce. To make the sandwich fully vegan, you can opt to eliminate the cheese that comes on the sub.
KFC's Double Down
KFC's Double Down may be one of the country's least healthy sandwiches, but no one goes to a fast-food restaurant because they want to eat something that’s good for them. This popular addition to KFC's menu consists of lots of bacon, lots of cheese and Colonel's sauce between two breasts of deep-fried chicken.
From the proud owners of the Pumpkin Spice Latte came the Unicorn Frappuccino. While some people seem to hate this very Instagram-friendly beverage, Starbucks remains unapologetic about their creation. It's a social media dream product, after all, and probably more popular for its looks than its taste.
White Castle's Seasonal Sweet Potato Fries
White Castle only releases its sweet potato fries seasonally in the fall and winter months. They might not seem like a cold weather thing, but White Castle has nonetheless made them into one. A sugary cinnamon dipping sauce accompanies them, and that mix of sweet and savory really hits the spot.
People who love Arby's love their unapologetic, meat-on-meat-on-meat sandwiches and famous cheesy curly fries. The Arby's Arbynator takes things even further, combining two things their customers love and making them one. It's a sandwich with lots of roast beef, curly fries and cheese unrepentantly combined in a bun.
Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets
For a while, the Spicy Chicken Nuggets were a regular part of Wendy's menu. However, they took them off in 2017, and if it hadn't been for Chance the Rapper, who tweeted about them in May 2019, perhaps they'd be gone forever.
Waffle Taco by Taco Bell
The fast-food industry has had to be innovative to keep up with the times, and part of that innovation includes making very photographable food. For Taco Bell, that meant bringing the Waffle Taco into existence. While it stretches even Taco Bell’s dubious definition of Mexican food, it looks made for Instagram.
The Angry Whopper
Calling a food item angry may not seem like something that would create a craze. Regardless, the name has not kept Burger King's Angry Whopper off people's minds. It's a ridiculously spicy burger, thanks to being topped with both jalapeno and "angry sauce," which claims to pretty much set your mouth on fire.
Taco Bell Nacho Fries
In 2018, Taco Bell joined the fast-food french fries frenzy that has existed since the beginning of fast-food time with their Nacho Fries. What made them special was not the fries themselves, but the delicious nacho cheese sidecar that came with each order.
Wendy's Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich
At the end of 2018, Wendy's introduced the Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich, a limited-edition breakfast item that was on the menu all day long during the Christmas holiday season. This winter comfort food became an instant favorite, particularly among those who love combining savory with sweet
Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich at Dunkin' Donuts
Dunkin' Donuts has joined the ranks of fast food chains dipping their toes into the world of meatless protein with its Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. The plant-based patty comes from the faux-meat giant Beyond Meats and is served with egg and American cheese on an English muffin.
Chipotle's Lifestyle Bowls
Chipotle launched its Lifestyle Bowls in early 2019 in conjunction with diet trends that encouraged people to go easy on the carbs. In their case, it means skipping the tortilla and putting all the typical burrito fillers into a bowl. Because carb-free diets, such as Keto and Paleo, are wildly popular these days, the Lifestyle Bowls have been a real hit.
McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce
McDonald’s Szechuan sauce was first released in 1998 to promote the release of Disney’s Mulan. It wasn’t particularly noteworthy, and under ordinary circumstances, it would have been forgotten.