Fast food restaurants know that it takes a lot to get yourself noticed, and having a standout, unique menu item is one of the best ways to get people to make orders and taste for themselves.
One particularly successful way to do this, for restaurants that have the resources to do so, is to have limited edition items that rotate in and out of a menu and become highly desired limited edition items, with burger boxes and elaborate packaging to match.
Some people will make a regular habit of ordering something new from a familiar place, whilst for others it keeps people aware of the brand and might encourage another order.
This is part of the reason for the many regular returns of menu items such as the McRib, but some are even more obscure, often limited not only in terms of time but also to certain countries, often being designed to specifically appeal to particular tastes.
Here are some of the most unusual examples.
KFC Paneer Zinger
With people mindful of the health, environmental and ethical benefits of eating less meat, vegetarian menu items are increasingly popular in fast food restaurants around the world, but there has always been a market for people who want a treat without meat, dating back to McDonald’s’ infamous Hula Burger.
Kentucky Fried Chicken has had several impressive vegetarian and vegan items, but one of the most fascinating has to be the Paneer Zinger burger sold exclusively in Indian KFCs in 2014.
From the outside, it looks like the standard chicken zinger burger, but rather than a chicken breast, it instead features two slices of paneer cheese sandwiching a creamy spicy sauce.
It was very popular when it was around, but has since been replaced by the Veg Zinger.
Burger King Windows 7 Whopper
In what might be amongst the most bizarre cross-promotions in fast food history, Burger King teamed up with Microsoft in 2009 to sell a septuple Whopper.
Yes, for a very limited time in Japan, sold to only the first 30 customers each day, Burger King would sell a Windows 7-themed burger with seven burger patties and over 1000 calories per serving.
This was always going to be an exceptionally limited edition item, but its infamy seemed to work for Microsoft.
Pizza Hut Fish Roe Salmon Cream Cheese Pizza
In East Asia, seafood dishes are particularly popular, and so a lot of American restaurant chains operating internationally sell some pretty unique menu items in order to capitalise on this popularity as well as take advantage of the then-nascent interest in unusual stuffed crust pizzas.
One of the strangest by far is the Hong Kong exclusive pizza featuring a stuffed crust filled with salmon-flavoured cream cheese and fish eggs, as well as toppings that included scallops and crayfish.
This, alongside the infamous cheeseburger stuffed crust pizza sold in the Middle East and a Marmite stuffed crust pizza sold in New Zealand proved that even with relatively conventional menu items, there is a lot of scope for some terrifying levels of creativity.