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Last Call: Remembering the golden age of fast food buffets

Wendy’s in the good old Superbar days
Wendy’s in the good old Superbar days
Photo: Bettmann (Getty Images)
Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

A piece that ran in Eater yesterday jogged a memory from the bottom reaches of my brain and sent it floating up through the layers of my subconscious: I am about eight years old or thereabouts. I am in a Wendy’s. This was the era when Wendy’s embraced an old-timey aesthetic and the tables were covered in what looked like a collage of old newspapers. In the back of the Wendy’s, there is a buffet table that looks like a salad bar. But it’s not just salad—which, at that time, I never would have eaten. There are baked potatoes! With vats of bright orange gooey cheese! And bacon bits! And there is chocolate pudding, as much of it as an eight-year-old can jam down her gullet as soon as she’s finished with her potato. I remember it vividly now. Oh, those were good times!

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The Eater piece, by MM Carrigan (who also happens to be the editor of The Taco Bell Quarterly), explores the history of fast food buffets, including the Wendy’s Superbar. The Wendy’s Superbar, as it happens, is the most thoroughly documented of all the fast food buffets. (It lasted for a decade and also included pasta and nachos.) But Carrigan is more interested rumors of other buffets, particularly those at Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC, and the most legendary of all: the McDonald’s Breakfast Buffet. Carrigan finds a few people who claim to have memories of this great innovation in fast food, but their recollections are hazy. (We’re talking buffets in American locations here, not Asian extravaganzas.)

Do you have any recollections of these buffets, including date, location, and especially contents? Please share with us here. And then we can all dream together of a time of unlimited McDonald’s hash browns.

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

There was a whole chain called “RAX” in the late 80s that was all about their buffets. They had this pasta/mexican/salad bar in all their locations. They were also the first fast food joint I remember being in that had “greenhouse” style windows in the dining area.