The fast food graveyard is littered with legends. The biggest loss we’ve had recently is the Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell, something that people are still sore about to this day. It was a favorite for many, and even a game-changer to some. We all knew, deep inside, some things were destined to shine brightly only for a little while, like KFC’s Double Down. So The Takeout staff asked ourselves: If we could revive any item from the pantheon of discontinued fast food items, which would we pick?
Mine would be the Cheddar Melt from McDonald’s (runner up is the McJordan, which was only around Chicago). Am I the only person who remembers this thing? It was McDonald’s nod to the patty melt, featuring grilled onions, cheddar cheese sauce, and teriyaki sauce (though I don’t remember this component), served on a rye bun. The Cheddar Melt was originally released in 1988, removed from the menu in the early ’90s, and then came back briefly in the mid-2000s. My memory of it has faded—I would have been eating it in the 90s, if I had to guess—but I remember it being good enough that I haven’t forgotten about it in the fickle world of limited-time-only sandwiches. It wasn’t overly complicated, but it was definitely great.
There was a half-assed version that came out a few years ago, a grilled onion and cheddar burger, but that was not very good. Please bring back the Cheddar Melt, McDonald’s. I see that it made a very brief return in 2014 in Wisconsin, so I will keep hope alive. —Dennis Lee, staff writer
I’m one of those people who’s still sore about losing the Mexican Pizza, my go-to fast food item since I was old enough to scrape the extra cheese off the box with my fingernail. But I’m not here to talk about the Mexican Pizza. I’ll get too sad. I’m here to talk about McDonald’s Chicken Selects, which debuted in 2002, disappeared in 2013, returned briefly in 2015, and were ultimately replaced by Buttermilk Crispy Tenders in 2017. (As Insider reports, the Buttermilk Crispy Tenders were “temporarily” axed from McDonald’s menus at the onset of the pandemic and haven’t returned.)
I miss Selects dearly. First, Chicken Selects were very tasty, with a zesty, crispy breading that paired beautifully with a metric ton of room-temperature ketchup. And while I’m a die-hard Popeyes fan, sometimes you find yourself on a road trip through a rural strip of northwest Arkansas and all you can find is a McDonald’s. Sometimes you pull up to the drive-thru window with visions of tendies dancing in your head, only to be told that you’ll have to settle for a nugget. And on those occasions, I weep for the days when I could gently pick up a chicken tender and whisper, “I have made my selection.” —Lillian Stone, staff writer
Pizza Hut’s all-you-can-eat lunch buffet was, throughout my childhood, the carrot dangled on the far side of midweek orthodontist appointments, standardized tests, and other elementary school unpleasantries. It was every kid’s badge of honor to make their fourth-grade classmates seethe with jealousy upon their return from Pizza Hut in the afternoon, bragging about putting down nine slices of cheese and sausage before hitting up the sticker machine in the Pizza Hut vestibule to score a holographic yin yang (applied stylishly, of course, to one’s Trapper Keeper). But the best part of Pizza Hut’s lunch buffet wasn’t the street cred or the sodium—it was the Dessert Pizza, presented right alongside the classic pizzas under the buffet’s mighty heat lamps. On each slice of Dessert Pizza, hot, gooey cinnamon sugar paste and cinnamon apples pooled atop saturated pastry dough (or was it pizza dough?), and the whole thing was finished off with a drizzle of white icing that would put Cinnabon to shame. It was as ultra-sweet as normal pizzas are ultra-salty, and it was a shock to the system after those aforementioned nine slices of sausage. The Dessert Pizza has since disappeared from the dessert menu—perhaps because the lunch buffet itself is a waning tradition—but I’ll always remember its contributions to That 2:30 Feeling. —Marnie Shure, editor in chief