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11 Best Discontinued Fast Food Items
written by Sam Greenspan

Yesterday, at lunch, we started discussing some of the lamest attempts by corporations to be "hip." Someone mentioned Pizza Hut calling their calzones the "P-Zones". Which got us discussing whether they still sell those, or if they bombed out and got discontinued. Which led to us discussing discontinued fast food items that we liked. Which led to this list.

  1. The Jason Alexander McDLT commercial.
    McDonald's McDLT. Back when it debuted in 1985, the McDLT had three things going for it -- all thanks to brilliant marketing.

    One, they came up with a catchphrase for it: Keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool. Two, they had a sweet commercial for it, featuring a young(ish), pre-famous Jason Alexander. And three, they made it the second item in the legendary McDonald's song (Big Mac, McDLT, a quarter pounder with some cheese, etc.)

    And I think people really took to it. But... shortly after it came out in 1985, all of a sudden, everyone became hippies.

    To keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool, McDonald's had created a special, partitioned Styrofoam container for the McDLT. And the hippie movement of the late '80s drove McDonald's to get rid of their Styrofoam packaging. Without that, the McDLT couldn't deliver on its temperature promises, and, in 1990, it was discontinued.

  2. McDonald's Arch Deluxe. Back in the mid '90s, if you'll recall, McDonald's spent a fortune advertising their new burger, the Arch Deluxe. The angle they went for: It's a burger for adults.

    Unfortunately, something went wrong. No one knows exactly what... maybe it was that marketing strategy was a huge turnoff... maybe it was that the Arch Deluxe was much more expensive than the rest of the menu... maybe it was that the Arch Deluxe was really, really unhealthy (even by McDonald's standards)... or maybe it jut didn't taste that good. Whatever it was, the Arch Deluxe crashed and burned.

    McDonald's spent an estimated $300 million on research, production and advertising for the Arch Deluxe.

    All that being said... I was about 16 at the time, and I remember coming home from a tennis match our coach stopped at McDonald's, we all got Arch Deluxes... and it was damn good. I even thought I might eat one again in the future. But now it's gone.

  3. Burger King dinner. In 1993, Burger King briefly decided to try its hand at becoming a classy-ish sit-down restaurant. If you went in for dinner you'd order, then you'd sit at your table and wait for them to actually serve you your food. They'd even give you a bowl of popcorn as an appetizer, for free.

    I remember persuading my parents to do this a couple of times, and I have really positive and strong memories about it (for some puzzling reason).

    Less than a year later, though, Burger King remembered "Oh wait, we're not Ruth's Chris, we're fucking BURGER KING" and discontinued the dinner plan.

  4. DQ Breeze. I love Dairy Queen Blizzards. Always have. And unless I get some still undiscovered form of diabetes, like diabetes type-9 (which, in that case, will be called "Sam Greenspan's Syndrome"), I always will.

    So I was a happy kid back when Dairy Queen decided to start offering the Blizzard made with frozen yogurt instead of less-healthy ice cream. They called it the Breeze. After all, health is good.

    Of course, it's all a smoke screen, because when you dump 500 calories worth of M&Ms or Heath or Oreos into the equation, shaving a few calories off the overall total because you went with yogurt over ice cream isn't going to make any tangible difference. It was more a mental thing anyway.

    Still, I'm not sure why they got rid of the Breeze. It wasn't hurting anyone to have it up there. Especially when they still sell those train wreck Mr. Mistys. As if anyone buys those things.

  5. Taco Bell's Frito Burrito. This is an old Taco Bell creation. It was a chili cheese burrito with Frito corn chips added in. Sounds really good. I never had one. But it makes the cut here because my friend Nathan -- one of the foremost authorities on Taco Bell on the planet -- said it was a requirement for this list.

    He even went as far as to call the Frito Burrito "awesome and very formative to my taco bell appreciation." And there's no better endorsement than that. Trust me. I've experienced his Taco Bell appreciation firsthand. It's intense.

  6. Wendy's Super Bar. I always like a good salad bar. Sure, they're ridiculous Petri dishes... but if you eat at one and DON'T walk out with salmonella poisoning, you're gonna be satisfied.

    So it's a shame, in these health conscious times of ours, that Wendy's salad bars (or Super Bars, as they called them) are just a distant memory.

    And if you aren't health conscious, you should miss them too, because the Super Bar also was filled with make-your-own-tacos, pizza, pasta and garlic bread.

    There was something there for the whole family: The Italian stereotype dad, his Latino second wife, their rapidly expanding eight-year-old son and their anorexic 12-year-old daughter!

  7. BK Burger Buddies. Back in the late '80s, Burger King introduced mini hamburgers. I remember eating some on a family trip to Denver. The mini burgers, I believe, had one clear mission statement: What if White Castle burgers actually tasted good?

    Burger King got rid of these pretty quickly. And yet White Castle is still going as strong as ever.

  8. Panera's Pepperblue Steak Sandwich. For years, when I'd go to Panera Bread, my go-to was the Pepperblue Steak Sandwich. That thing was incredible.

    Then one day, about a year ago, it was gone. With no fanfare. It was just gone. And it wasn't one of those things that a restaurant takes off the menu but you can still order. The staff members at every Panera I've been to since act as though they've never even heard of it.

    It's like something straight out of a Hitchcock movie.

  9. The Quizno's roasted chicken salad, back when it existed.
    Quizno's Roasted Chicken Salad. I thought Quizno's was all about their toasting. Those people are supposed to want to toast everything for you.

    A few years back, that policy extended to their roasted chicken salad. They would toast all the stuff on top of it, then put the warm chicken-bacon-cheese mix on top of the lettuce and onions.

    Then one day they got rid of the roasted chicken salad... and all the other toaster-oriented salads... and replaced them with these gross, un-toasted flatbread salads. Yeah, they toast the flatbread... but they dump cold chicken, cheese and, worst of all, congealed, stale bacon chunks onto the lettuce and think that constitutes something good to eat.

    It does not. Fortunately, depending on the helpfulness, tenure and competence of the people at the Quizno's, some of them will still make the roasted chicken salad. But a lot of them can't, won't or don't.

    And without toasting, you realize that Quizno's food is really kinda gross.

  10. McDonald's Super Size. So they bent to public pressure and got rid of all the Super Size items. That's a shame.

    Just think: The next generation will have no idea what Super Sizing is. They'll only know Biggie Sizing and King Sizing. And how is this country going to reach its goal of 100% obesity by 2030 if today's kids can only have giant buckets of fries and 64-ounce sodas and SOME of the major fast food chains?

  11. Arby's Polar Swirl. It was like half Wendy's Frosty, half Dairy Queen blizzard. It was ice cream with candy mixed in... you'd start eating it with a spoon and eventually it'd melt enough that you could finish it off with a straw.

    Maybe it's good they discontinued these, though... if this was still around, I might find myself going to Arby's. And that would be a problem, since I have been working on a theory that there's an inversely proportional relationship between overall physical health and trips to Arby's.

Also, before you write, I didn't include the McRib or shamrock shakes because they're seasonal items that still do exist. Just not whenever you want them. And I didn't include McPizza because I never had it.

This post was originally published on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 12:00:00 PM under the category Food & Drink.

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