The cycle of the fast food item is one that can often take some fascinating turns, as whilst there are some burger boxes that will forever stay on a particular takeaway restaurant’s menu, there are others that will disappear.
Often, this is on purpose, as limited edition menu items help to create a fear of missing out, but in other cases, a product is discontinued because not enough people are buying it to make it worth it.
However, as was the case with the McRib, just because a menu item is discontinued does not mean that it cannot make a major comeback, and whether they make a nostalgic return or the concept returns under a different name, here are discontinued fast food items that made a comeback.
KFC Double Down
One of the earliest viral fast food sensations, the Double Down and its combination of cheese and bacon between two chicken fillets was exceptionally popular for a time, although ultimately the novelty wore off and it was discontinued.
However, it has since made some sporadic comebacks, most recently in the United States in 2023, becoming the KFC version of the McRib.
The Arch Deluxe
McDonalds has for a very long time had one major competitor when it comes to its hamburgers in the form of the Burger King Whopper. For three decades McDonalds tried to launch a suitable competitor, many of which are amongst McDonald’s most famous failures
There was the McDLT, complete with its baffling conjoined box, and the infamous Arch Deluxe, an attempt by McDonalds to go upmarket that was amongst the most costly mistakes in the history of fast food, losing hundreds of millions of pounds in the process.
However, despite this, the concept has never truly gone away, with burgers such as the Big Tasty still providing a similar experience. However, the closest burger to the Arch Deluxe was McDonald’s Signature Collection released in the UK in 2016.
This ultimately also did not last but it highlighted that despite the very public failure, McDonalds still tries on occasion to transcend its current position in the market, although without the aggressive marketing that backfired in the 1990s.
McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce
Possibly the most surreal comeback in fast food history in nearly every possible regard, the relatively obscure McDonald’s Szechuan sauce was a condiment sold as a tie-in to the 1998 Disney animated feature film Mulan.
It had largely been forgotten outside of die-hard McDonald’s enthusiasts until an episode of the animated comedy Rick and Morty aired in 2017 which had a lengthy tangent about the sauce and how so much effort went into what was ultimately a limited-time offering.
As Rick and Morty was phenomenally successful at the time, this led to McDonald’s first giving the creators a large jug of the sauce, before rereleasing it as a limited-edition menu item.
This promotion went disastrously wrong, with almost every packet making it into the hands of scalpers, leading McDonald’s to announce a second, longer-lasting promotion in 2018, and a few exceptionally limited-time offers after this.