The 9 Best Fast Food Comebacks of 2022

The 9 Best Fast Food Comebacks of 2022

Nostalgia helped bring these fast food favorites back to menus this year.

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Taco Bell Mexican Pizza product shot
Image: Taco Bell

The crushing disappointment and sheer outrage that envelops fast food fans when their favorite menu item is discontinued can only be matched by the unbridled joy and excitement when that item makes a comeback. In 2022 we were lucky enough to witness many brilliant fast food innovations, but we were also blessed with the return of some sorely missed offerings as well.

These are the best fast food menu items that made their way back to us in 2022. Although most of these foods only returned for a limited time, they all brought back fond memories of menus past. Hopefully we’ll see them again in 2023.

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Taco Bell Enchirito

Taco Bell Enchirito

The fabled Enchirito was removed from Taco Bell’s menu in 2013, but thanks to the voice of the people, it came back at the tail end of 2022. A Taco Bell Enchirito is a combination of an enchilada and a burrito, featuring a soft flour tortilla filled with seasoned beef, refried beans, and onions, then drenched in red sauce and shredded cheddar. Back in September, the Taco Bell app let users vote on which discontinued menu item should make a comeback, the Enchirito or the Double Decker Taco. With 760,000 votes cast, the Enchirito was the clear victor. Its comeback was a brief one and ended on November 30, but the Enchirito was just as beautiful as we remembered.

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McDonald’s ‘Boo Buckets’ Halloween Pails

McDonald’s ‘Boo Buckets’ Halloween Pails

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Image: McDonald’s

Leading up to Halloween 2022, the internet was abuzz with rumors that a McDonald’s children’s promotion first released in the 1980s was coming back for Gen Alpha’s enjoyment. Well, the rumors were true: Three different characters—McBoo, McPunk’n, and McGoblin—all came back to serve their double duty of ferrying fries and holding a (very small) Halloween candy haul. The only downside was that, while in past years the buckets included lids, this year they featured a two-dimensional rigid flap of plastic that only looked like a lid in profile—a trick to go along with the treats.

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Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

The Taco Bell Mexican pizza made the comeback of all comebacks, to the point where it’s hard to imagine it being topped by anything heading our way in 2023. After fans spent well over a year pleading with Taco Bell, the famed Mexican Pizza came back on May 19, 2022, restored to the permanent menu. Some fans noted that its flavor had changed since going away in 2020, but we tasted it for ourselves and we disagree. Whether or not it lives up to the nostalgia, one thing is for sure: the Mexican Pizza came back with a bang.

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Popeyes Cajun Rice

Popeyes Cajun Rice

In honor of the chain’s 50th anniversary, Popeyes brought back its Cajun rice after removing it from the menu in January 2021. The rice, formulated with “flavorful Cajun and creole seasonings mixed together from a range of bold ingredients, including bell pepper, onion, garlic, celery and cayenne,” was a favorite side dish for many Popeyes fans. Tweets expressing disappointment and despair eventually spurred the restaurant to bring back the dish, though only for a limited time.

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McDonald’s McRib

McDonald’s McRib

You probably already know that the McDonald’s McRib comes on and off the menu seasonally. However, in its latest campaign for the return of the barbecue rib sandwich, McDonald’s has implied that this will be the McRib’s “final farewell.” We are not so easily convinced; the company refused to definitively clarify that the sandwich was being discontinued, instead emphasizing that “we can’t say for certain what the future holds.” If anything, it’s the nationwide release that might be going away for a while; the McRib could very well return to certain markets next year rather than being rolled out nationally. Time will tell.

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McDonald’s Jalapeño McChicken

McDonald’s Jalapeño McChicken

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Photo: Dennis Lee

McDonald’s first released the Jalapeño Double burger in 2014, and the Jalapeño McChicken followed shortly after. Both sandwiches were re-released in summer 2022, topped with American cheese, pickled jalapeños, fried jalapeño chips, and ranch sauce—a dynamic combination of toppings. The McChicken option bests the burger by a mile, and though the heat from the peppers is only middling, it was a great summertime promotion to break us all out of our ordering rut.

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Classic McDonaldland characters

Classic McDonaldland characters

The release of the McDonald’s x Cactus Plant Flea Market Box, more commonly known as the Adult Happy Meal, brought back classic McDonald’s characters that many adults recognized but which haven’t been used in advertising for years. Hamburglar, Grimace, and Birdie returned in the form of figurines with double sets of eyes, a nod to the aesthetic of fashion collaborator Cactus Plant Flea Market. Despite the characters’ new look, the toys were a major success, with some selling for hundreds of dollars in profit on the secondary market. We must have really missed these characters in our lives.

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McDonald’s McGold Card

McDonald’s McGold Card

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Photo: McDonald’s

Shrouded in myth and legends, the golden card that gets you free McDonald’s for life has come back as a holiday promotion in 2022. The last time this special little card was dangled in front of customers was back in 2018. McDonald’s suggests making a purchase of any dollar amount in its app to earn an entry, but we have a better way you can enter for a chance to win the golden ticket.

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Culver’s Curderburger

Culver’s Curderburger

The burger that began as Culver’s little April Fool’s joke became a blissful reality and a one-day smash hit in 2021 when it sold out National Cheese Curd Day. The fried-cheese-puck-topped burger came back in October of this year, and this time Culver’s was prepared to give everyone a chance to try it. The chain prepped the burger for a two-week run, and with strong sales, we might see it return again in 2023.

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