Eat This, Not That has a fun little distraction for you. It has published a list of the most popular fast food items spanning from the 1940s through the 2000s, and you can scroll through them to see what sold best the year you were born, provided you’re at least 13 (get back to e-learning right now!) and no older than 80 (hi, internet-savvy grandparents!).
The list does skip some years, so your birth year might not be featured, but the coverage is pretty widespread. Some of the little blurbs cover restaurant openings instead of specific dishes, but still, it’s a fun list all the same. I’m currently 39, and apparently the new big thing in 1981 was Quiznos, as the first store opened in Denver. This is bullshit, but only because I’ve never liked Quiznos. Why couldn’t I be associated with something more iconic, like the McChicken, introduced just a year earlier? (Wait, the McChicken has been around since 1980?!)
The list is full of what you’d expect, like the White Castle slider, the Whopper, and the Big Mac. I had a good time reading through all the trivia tidbits; for example, I didn’t know that the Happy Meal was released in 1979. Or that Chipotle, born in 1993, is practically a wee baby in the fast food game. The last item on the list is Wendy’s Baconator, which was released in 2007 (I swear it feels much newer than that). This entire list has discombobulated my brain.
By the way, do any of you remember McDonald’s Cheddar Melt (fourth on this list)? I loved that thing. It was basically a patty melt in McDonald’s form with cheddar sauce and grilled onions, served up on a rye bun. I want that in 2020. Give me that.