When their favorite fast food items are removed from the menu, fans can become upset. However, sometimes these items make a big comeback due to popular demand.
Fast food chains have listened to customer feedback and brought back popular menu items, like the pimento cheese at Bojangles, McRib burger at McDonald’s and the Beefy Crunch Burrito at Taco Bell.
This article will explore some of the most popular fast-food items that were discontinued and later experienced a significant resurgence.
We’ll talk about their history and why they came back.
Read on to discover which popular fast food items have made a comeback if you’ve been eagerly anticipating their return.
Burger King’s Cini Minis
The original Cini Minis from Burger King were a favorite for those who grew up in the 90s and ate lots of sugary fast food.
Small cinnamon rolls, known as Cini Minis, were available in a four-pack and accompanied by a side of frosting that consisted mainly of sugar.
They were first sold in 1998, when Burger King announced that one-third of their customers ate breakfast in their cars.
Pillsbury produced the initial Cini Minis exclusively for Burger King, and the locations selling them freshly baked them every day.
In a 1998 commercial, Minnie Riperton sang about how swoon-worthy these little bites were.
The ad characterized the Cini Minis as originating “from the heart of the bun.” It alluded to the finest segment of a cinnamon bun, which features the cinnamon swirl enclosed in delicate, airy dough and smothered in frosting.
After their removal from the menu in the early 2000s, fans initiated a petition urging Burger King to bring back the Cini Minis.
The petition had over 2,700 signatures on Change.org.
In 2018, all of their dreams came true. They brought back the product in partnership with GrubHub.
Customers who bought at least $10 worth of delivery could choose to get a free box of Cini Minis. They were only available for a short time, and as of 2018, they are no longer available.
Pizza Hut’s P’Zone
What is a P’zone?
If you watch any of the old TV ads for “the pizza you eat like a sandwich,” you’ll get a long description, like this Super Bowl ad for Pizza Hut P’zones that calls for a revolution.
When it first came out in 2002, the P’zone was a cross between a pizza and a calzone.
Essentially, the P’zone was a twelve-inch pizza halved, and it swiftly amassed a devoted following.
According to a news release, there was a brief attempt to reintroduce the P’zone before it was brought back for a limited time in 2007 as part of a campaign that featured professional eater Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi.
As part of the PR stunt, there was a real “P’Zone Chow-line,” and the winner got a golden P’zone.
Shortly after, it was removed from the market once more, but it had a brief comeback in 2011.
In 2019, Pizza Hut did another reboot with a lot of marketing. This time, it was in partnership with the NCAA, which made Pizza Hut “The Official Pizza of March Madness.”
A 2019 Forbes story says that the chain teased the re-release on social media with the tagline “A Legend Returns.
It then brought back the P’zone as part of a $5 menu lineup meant to compete with the value combos offered by rival Domino’s.
There are still three different kinds of the P’zone on the Pizza Hut menu: Pepperoni, Supremo, and Meaty.
McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce
When discussing discontinued fast food items, McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce cannot be omitted. It incited riots when temporarily reintroduced for a promotional event, as it was featured in an episode of the animated TV show Rick and Morty.
McDonald’s first put out its Szechuan sauce in 1998 as a limited-time special for the movie Mulan, which had just come out.
The commercials for the sauce praised the newest Disney character as “a cool girl who saves China.”
After the McDonald’s promotion finished, Mulan went on to make more than $300 million around the world, and Szechuan sauce was no longer on people’s minds — until 2017.
The sauce was in the Rick and Morty episode “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” and fans went crazy.
McDonald’s sent a jug of the sauce to the people who made the show, and then for one day, they made a special version of the sauce.
When some fans couldn’t get the sauce on October 7, 2017, their reaction shocked the whole country.
In response, McDonald’s made the sauce available to a larger group of people a second time.
The Szechuan sauce is now mostly a joke on the internet, but you can still buy sealed jars of sauce on eBay for between $34 and $3,000.
A reporter from Shreveport, Louisiana, went looking for the sauce on March 4, 2020, after seeing a post about it on McDonald’s social media page.
It turned out that the brand had been quietly teasing the release of 200,000 servings of Szechuan sauce at participating sites in New Zealand on a single day.
Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets
Wendy’s quietly took its Spicy Chicken Nuggets off the menu in 2017, right after Eater’s food reviewer Ryan Sutton put them at the top of his “Ranking of America’s Fast Food Chicken Nuggets.”
Wendy’s still has these spicy bits on the menu, and we hope the chain won’t take them away again.
KFC’s Chicken Littles
When Chicken Littles first came out, KFC did a lot of fast food marketing for it, including putting a bubblegum-pink convertible in an ad.
When the sliders came out in 1987, they cost 39 cents. This was before dollar menus, so it was hard to beat them in terms of value.
In 2012, it had been more than 20 years since people could buy the small burger that they really liked.
In 2005, KFC replaced its Chicken Littles with the KFC Snacker. At first, shops sold more than 1,000 of them every week, but they never became as popular as the Chicken Littles.
KFC brought back its famous slider after getting phone calls, petitions, and fan pages.
The brand said that the improved version, which had a signature Extra Crispy Strip on a sesame seed slider bun with pickles and mayonnaise, was even better than the original.
Fans, on the other hand, didn’t agree at all. People wrote open messages to KFC asking them to bring back the real Chicken Little, the one that tasted as if it came from an elementary school cafeteria.
Most KFC sites in the US still sell the updated version, but if you grew up on the 80s version, it won’t be the same.
Bojangles’ Pimento Cheese
In the South, pimento cheese is almost like its own food group, as the return ad says.
If you’ve never had pimento cheese before, it’s a peppery spread made with cheddar cheese, chopped pimento, seasonings, and a variety of other ingredients, based on who makes it.
Bojangles’, a fast food company in North Carolina that serves chicken and biscuits, added pimento cheese to its menu for a limited time in July 2019 after testing it in Wilmington, North Carolina.
This summer, the chain brought back its much-loved pimento cheese and made it even better by adding a warm, creamy dipping sauce.
Customers can order almost anything from Bojangles’ Menu, and if that isn’t enough, they can also get a 15-ounce tub of straight pimento cheese for the whole family.
If you live in a state with a Bojangles’, you should get your pimento fix as soon as possible because the sauce and spread are only available “while supplies last.”
Carl’s Jr.’s Jalapeño Popper Burger
The Jalapeo Popper Burger comes from the line of fast food restaurants that includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. It is very spicy.
A story from Foodbeast says that Carl’s Jr. started testing the burger under the name “El Diablo” in 2014.
The half-pound burger patty had deep-fried jalapeño poppers, jalapeño pieces, and habanero sauce on top.
The first test happened soon after the Jack-in-the-Box Hella-Peo burger came out.
According to Delish, the burger was back on tables in 2018, but not in its original form.
Instead, the Jalapeo Double Cheeseburger came out in 2018 at both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. This is a spicy meat burger, like the Jalapeo Popper Burger.
It has two burgers, pepperjack cheese, jalapeo coins, and Santa Fe sauce, according to the Carl’s Jr. menu.
Carl’s Jr. got rid of the deep-fried jalapeo poppers and replaced them with two meat patties.
The burger is still on Carl’s Jr. tables all over the country, so it seems to have worked.
But don’t go to Hardee’s to look for this burger, because it’s no longer on the menu. Double and Triple Spicy Western Cheeseburgers are what you’ll find instead.
In these versions of the Jalapeo Popper Burger, the poppers are replaced with onion rings, and the habanero sauce is switched out for a spicy BBQ spread.
Krystal’s Country-Fried Menu
Krystal is a fast food restaurant that only has locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
It serves slider-style burgers. Because it doesn’t have a huge selection, the 2016 launch of its Country Fried Menu really spoke to its target audience.
According to QSR Magazine, the concept for the Country Fried Steak Krystal was reportedly developed in partnership with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.
However, more ideas kept flowing.
On the limited-time menu, some of the items included the Country Fried Steak Krystal, the Country Fried Chik, the Country Fried Chik Biscuit, and the Country Fries, which consisted of Krystal’s regular fries with gravy and crumbled bacon on top.
In 2017, the chain brought back Country Fried items for three months because customers liked them so much.
While the Country Fried Menu is not currently available at Krystal, the brand’s former VP of Marketing expressed in PRNewswire, “Being a Southern company, we are well aware of the affection for Country-Fried food, and the enthusiastic reception of our Country-Fried menu has been truly exciting.”
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Country Fried options back on the menu because the idea fits so well with Krystal’s Southern roots.
Hardee’s Original Roast Beef
In 1985, Hardee’s advertised the launch of its Original Roast Beef Sandwich by pointing out that McDonald’s and Burger King didn’t have roast beef sandwiches.
Hardee’s started selling roast beef sandwiches because of its relationship with Imasco, a Canadian business that bought a controlling interest in the chain in 1981.
The famous roast beef diner Roy Rogers was also owned by Imasco, and it was said that the recipe for the roast beef sandwich sold at Hardee’s in the 1980s and 1990s had come from Roy Rogers.
The fast food sandwich went away for the most part in the 1990s. It came back on tables across the country in April 2019.
An ad campaign with the slogan “Save the Veggies” announced the relaunch.
As part of the promotion, Hardee’s worked with the American Community Gardening Association to plant millions of veggies across the country, according to a press release from Businesswire.
Hardee’s still has the classic roast beef sandwich, which it calls the Big Roast Beef.
It also has a new sandwich called the Monster Roast Beef, which has American cheese, bacon, and no vegetables.
Wendy’s Taco Salad
It’s more than a salad, it’s a meal!” says a TV ad for Wendy’s Taco Salad from 1982 that didn’t hold up well over time.
The first Wendy’s Taco Salad wasn’t much more than a fancy way to serve the chain’s famous chili.
A bed of lettuce, chopped tomato, and melted cheese, all of which were sitting in crunchy taco shells, had chili poured over them.
When it made a comeback as part of a National Taco Day promotion in 2016, there were still devoted fans who had never tried it, and they were old enough to be parents, despite the beloved item having been removed from the menu in 2010.
Carl Loredo, Wendy’s VP of Brand Marketing at the time, told QSR Magazine before the re-release, “We love how nostalgic and passionate our loyal Taco Salad fans are, and we look forward to introducing it to a new generation of fans with the same build and quality ingredients.”
If you want to try it for yourself, all you have to do is go to the Wendy’s near you.
Wendy’s Baconator Fries
Businesswire says that in the first eight weeks that the Wendy’s Baconator was on sale, the chain sold 25 million burgers.
The Baconator starts with a full half-pound of fresh beef, then adds six strips of applewood-smoked bacon, American cheese, mayo, and ketchup to make a real heart attack ready to happen.
The popularity of the original Baconator led to a lot of similar products, such as the smaller Son of Baconator, the Breakfast Baconator, and, of course, Baconator Fries.
PR Newswire says that Baconator Fries were first put on fast food menus in 2015, but only for a short time.
The company wanted to take advantage of the fact that sales of American bacon were at an all-time high, so it took its classic french fries and put a warm cheese sauce, applewood smoked bacon, and chopped cheddar cheese on top.
After a short break, QSR Magazine said that the Baconator Fries were coming back a year later.
Since 2016, the cheesy bacon fries have been a regular part of Wendy’s menu.
As part of a promotion to compete with McDonald’s in 2019, the business even started giving away free orders of Baconator Fries.
Taco Bell’s Beefy Crunch Burrito
Taco Bell sold the first Beefy Crunch Burrito in 2009.
The new fast food burrito had seasoned meat, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, seasoned rice, and spicy corn chip bits to give it that signature crunch.
For the following three years, it stood out as one of the chain’s best-selling items. However, in 2011, the restaurant announced its removal from the menu.
This is when the Beefy Crunch Burrito’s story really starts.
In April 2016, Taco Bell sent an official thank-you letter to the group of people who started the Beefy Crunch Movement.
As part of a dollar value menu, the company brought back the Beefy Crunch Burrito and another fan favorite, the Cheesy Double Beef Burrito.
Fans could finally get their burrito fix, but only for a short time. In 2017, Taco Bell put out another limited run of the Beefy Crunch Burrito.
And, according to Business Insider, the same thing happened again in 2018, but only in 30 places.
The Beefy Crunch Burrito is no longer on Taco Bell’s menu, which is too bad. But fans who don’t give up can still hope.
Given that this choice has seen a re-release in the past, it’s not out of the question that it could return for another limited-time offer.
FAQs About Discontinued Fast Food Items That Made A Big Comeback
Why do discontinued fast food items make a comeback?
To capitalize on nostalgia, compete with other chains, or meet customer demand.
How do companies decide which discontinued fast food items to bring back?
They consider customer demand, brand identity, competition, and cost and feasibility.
Q: What are the challenges of bringing back a discontinued fast food item?
Ensuring food safety and quality, marketing the item to customers, and having the capacity to meet demand.
What are some tips for companies that are considering bringing back a discontinued fast food item?
Do your research, market the item effectively, and make sure you have the capacity to meet demand.
What are some of the most successful discontinued fast food comebacks?
McDonald’s McRib, Taco Bell Mexican Pizza, Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Arby’s Jamocha Shake, KFC Double Down, Burger King Chicken Fries, Pizza Hut P’Zone.
What are some of the most unsuccessful discontinued fast food comebacks?
McDonald’s Mighty Wings, Burger King HD Whopper, Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch, Arby’s Loaded Potato Skins, KFC Pot Pie, Wendy’s Frosty-ccino.
How often do discontinued fast food items make a comeback?
The frequency varies. Certain items are periodically reintroduced, whereas others return only for a temporary period.
Do all discontinued fast food items make a comeback?
No, not all discontinued fast food items make a comeback.
Some items are just too unpopular or too costly to reintroduce, while others might have been discontinued because of health concerns or other factors.
In summary, fast food chains discontinue items for various reasons but may reintroduce them due to popular demand or other factors.
Bringing back previously removed items can create excitement and boost sales, yet it also entails risks and prompts social considerations.
However, customers eagerly welcome the return of their favorite fast food items, and fast food chains see it as a means to stay relevant in a competitive market.