“Alright, time to do another ‘Fast Food Culture’ post! Except that Pepsi pretty much counts by this site’s criteria, doesn’t it? Dang!”
Oh well, we’re here and the prep for this one has been sitting in my queue, so let’s get into it. Smosh recently posted a list of “18 Weird Fast Food Items That Were Totally Real,” and aficionado that I am, the list caught my eye and I gave it a good look. I encourage you to do the same, then click back here for my own thoughts on a few of their entries (and a few others).
The top of the list is the item that led to “Still Are” in my version of the title above. McLobster is still a thing that you see, particularly in New England and Atlantic Canada during times when lobster are plentiful. In more recent years, McLobster has actually had a temporary national roll-out here — I even have the box from one to commemorate the occasion (don’t worry, it’s clean).
Next on the list is mislabeled as “BK Buddies,” when they were called “Burger Buddies” (alternatively “Burger Bundles”) and those pictured are actually Burger King’s rebranded “Burger Shots.” Not a huge difference, really, but these tiny burgers were my heart’s desire when I was a kid. In an era where Game Boy, Micro Machines, and Micromaster Transformers were all the hotness? Why wouldn’t I be into them? Plus, they felt “my sized.”
Only ever got them once, though. And for what it’s worth, I don’t remember that particular commercial very well, so I’m skeptical that was a part of it.
I’ve never seen a McHotDog, but I have seen the “Yumbo.” When I worked at BK many, many years ago, it was simply known as a hot ham and cheese sandwich, available to order but not listed on the menu. It was just the same ham as on a Croissan’wich with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and mayo on an Original Chicken Sandwich bun. If you have a BK that still serves ham Croissan’wiches, you ought to be able to order one with no problem. As I found out recently, however, they once again removed ham from the breakfast menu here. Come on, BK! Some of us prefer breakfast meats that aren’t all fried and greasy! …sometimes.
Wendy’s “Garden Spot” Salad Bar… or Superbar, depending on the restaurant. I used to get this all the time, and really miss it. Aside from maybe a side salad, I don’t think I’ve had a Wendy’s salad since. Plus, the breadsticks they used to have with them were cheap and delicious — I used to order a bunch to take home for when it would be a long time between meals. The Superbar, I have less vivid memories of — it was usually there when I went, but I only remember getting it once or twice. The pasta and other hot foods there were great, though.
Side note: They used to have really good chocolate chip cookies, too. Sadly, this all changed in the early aughts.
I remember Sonic’s Pickle-o’s, but never tried them. Did get some good laughs as a friend joked about getting an order with a side of Saiyan fries — Super sized, of course.
Hooters has something similar, if I were to guess, and with a delicious dipping sauce, to boot. Other places around here have tried similar deep fried pickles, except they use pickle spears instead of slices — a practice I don’t care for, as I don’t like that version’s pickle-to-batter ratio. As it turns out, you might still be able to get these at Sonic, but like the Yumbo, it’s something of a “secret” menu item.
One item I really miss (and was going to start a Facebook group for, before I got too busy to see it through) was the Arch Deluxe. Off-putting advertising aside (showing kids driven to downright revulsion as the mere mention of its “grown-up taste”; I opted for a better one above), I really loved this burger, and it was pretty much my go-to burger at McDonald’s for as long as it was available. To be honest, I’m willing to compromise for a return — I’ll take it as a temporary or seasonal item like the McRib or Shamrock Shake. I can live without the special bun, too — just dress up a Quarter Pounder in the same toppings, particularly that delicious sauce, and I’ll be quite, quite happy.
Heck, rebrand it if you’re that worried about it being a problem. Though with 90s nostalgia for Surge, Crystal Pepsi, and Planters’ P.B. Crisps, and other foods from that era, there could be a whole new market for it now.
Another thing I really miss? Wendy’s pitas. These were phased out around the same time as the other stuff, as far as I can remember, and collectively, it killed me. Of the four varieties, I only ever ate one: Garden Ranch Chicken. What’s weird is that I’m not a huge fan of ranch dressing — or rather, I’m just very particular about it, but this kind passed muster.
What’s more, these were the only way you could get me to eat celery. My wife and I have been at odds over this, as she likes the stuff, finding it rather weak in flavor, while I find just the scent absolutely repugnant. She couldn’t understand my issue with it (nor I her affinity for it) until she looked it up and found there’s apparently some sort of condition in which some people — like me, apparently — are repulsed by celery.
But not in Wendy’s pitas! I don’t know what it was, but I could eat those all day long, and lord knows I miss them. Makes me wish Wendy’s would revive the Garden Spot, SuperBar, and pitas as some sort of “Wendy’s Fresh” spin-off, since maintaining those bars while still handling all the burgers and chicken sandwiches at the same time is said to have been too difficult for stores to manage. I’d probably eat there more than at Wendy’s itself!
And that’s pretty much it. What long gone and all-but-forgotten foods do you miss or want to see come back? Tell me all about it in the comments below — I love hearing this stuff! Or tell me if there’s an item you’d like me to spotlight in a future article, as I love talking about it, too!
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.