By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Whether you were quarantined earlier this year or trying to grab a bite to eat for the return of sports, 2020 had been a good time for food apps.
What is your method of getting essential eats to your home? Do you prefer DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, goPuff, DeliveryMe or Instacart? Those trendy applications have become a part of America in recent years bringing us signature food items we’ve grown to love over the decades.
Fancy dine-in restaurants have their exclusive menus and one-and-only items. But the ones U.S. Americans will get into a physical argument over are the classics from our fast food establishments.
Now a lot of our favorites are a tap away on our smartphone. Some of us still like to hop in the car and drive to fast food eatery. And a couple of them still allow us to come inside and point out what we want.
I haven’t been to every fast food restaurant America has to offer. Some establishments are Regional and I can only dream of one day meeting their signature item.
Today I will present my top 10 fast food restaurant signature items from my life experience. I might leave a few notable items out of my honorable mention: Big Mac (McDonald’s), Baconator (Wendy’s), $5 Footlong (Subway), Baked Apple Pie (McDonald’s), Big Buford (Checker’s) Blizzard (Dairy Queen), Bonafied Chicken (Popeye’s), Chicken McNuggets (McDonald’s), Crunchwrap Supreme (Taco Bell), Curly Fries (Arby’s)
Double Down (KFC), Famous Seasoned Fries (Checkers/Rally’s), Frosty (Wendy’s), French Fries (McDonald’s), Onion Rings (Burger King), The Whopper (Burger King), Doublestack (Wendy’s), Extra Crispy Chicken (KFC), Slider (Krystal’s), Soft Cookies (Subway), Spicy Chicken Sandwich (Wendy’s), Spicy Chicken Nuggets (Wendy’s), Quarter Ponder (McDonald’s), Mexican Pizza (Taco Bell), Cherry Limeade (Sonic), Nacho Fries (Taco Bell), Chick Philly (Lenny’s) Hash Browns (McDonald’s), Bacon Wrapped Pizza (Little Caesars), Baked Potato (Wendy’s), Chicken Sandwich (Chick-fil-A), Crazy Bread (Little Caesars), Lemonade (Chick-fil-A), Ice Cream (Chick-fil-A), Filet-O-Fish (McDonald’s), Garlic Sauce (Papa John’s), Tacos (Jack in the Box), Meat Lover’s Pizza (Pizza Hut), Chicken Finger Plate (Zaxby’s), Bacon Cheeseburger Toaster (Sonic), Italian BMT (Subway) and Honey Butter Biscuits (Church’s).
- Memphis BBQ Chicken Pizza (Domino’s)
Newsflash, I am a native Memphian. And I fall into the massive category of people born here loving barbecue. So if you try to master our style of sauce and methods to smoking meat, I’m going to give you recipe a try. Then if you decide to use the combination with other traditional greats, as a Memphian it’s my duty to eat that food item.
Kudos to you Domino’s for your Memphis BBQ Pizza. On their Memphis BBQ Chicken Pizza, you are offered a helping of mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar cheeses, white meat chicken, tangy and zesty barbecue sauce. Simple but full of savory flavor. And with the improved crust, I love this pizza.
- French Fries (Captain D’s)
I have a simple criteria for the best French fries in the world. Can I eat them the next day? There has only been one fast food French fry I can give that honor to in my 39 years of life. The offering from Captain D’s.
Fresh out the grease, these things are perfection next to some fish, chicken or lobster rolls. But if you get full off the rest of the seafood feast, don’t worry at all. Just place them in the refrigerator and make that walk to your microwave the next day. It’s like the fries at Captain D’s have a protective flaky layer of butter and fish batter. Whatever the recipe is, please keep it going.
- Bo-Berry Biscuit (Bojangles)
Is it dessert or a part of the meal? Of the sweet offerings from Bojangles, I have to get the Bo-Berry Biscuits when I am in Nashville. The Bojangles’ website answers my question in their description. “A sweeter, dessert version of our famous biscuits, featuring our famous Bo-Berries baked right in and sweet icing drizzled on top. It’s a great way to end a meal. Or start a meal. Or be a meal, for that matter.”
These biscuits, if bought in a six-pack, can be your dinner. If you haven’t tried the beloved Bo-Berry Biscuits, please take a quick trip down to 965 Goodman Road and you’ll thank me later.
- Frosted Lemonade
I need something to wash all this great food down. The best offering of liquid refreshment in the game has to be the Chick-fil-A Frosted Lemonade. You combine the restaurant’s soft-served ice cream and delicious tart lemonade to create this piece of perfection.
The duo coming together is like prime D-Wade and King James in Miami, the Heat is on. This refreshing treat is a hand-spun combination of Chick-fil-A lemonade and signature “Icedream” dessert.
I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve driven to Chick-fil-A just for a Frosted Lemonade. In the middle of February with a chance of snow in the forecast…
- Chicken Sandwich (Popeye’s)
Back in a simpler time, the biggest newsmaker was a chicken sandwich. Back in 2019, all the talk across America was the release of the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich.
Now with more serious issues going on in the world, I can hardly remember laughing at the thought of people fighting and killing over a sandwich.
So in the late summer of 2019, I finally got a chance to eat this “magnificent” creation. After making my order at the counter, I was still downplaying this sandwich. Soon, the cashier called me up to get my crispy fried chicken breast, topped with pickles, slicked with your choice of mayo (you can get spicy Cajun sauce) nestled on a brioche bun.
I must confess the presentation was awesome. That large piece of chicken breast exploded through the bun. Then I took a bite of my first Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. To summarize things, I’ve eaten about 20 of these sandwiches in a year. It’s pretty dang awesome.
- Big King XL (Burger King)
I grew up loving the Big Mac. I remember thinking as a 5-year-old, “There is no way a burger can be better than this.” Then as life proceeded, I discovered better, larger and more creative burgers.
But I always came back to my first love the Big Mac. I remember telling the Big Mac, you are a signature classic that can’t be replaced or improved upon.
Then on January 18, 2019 Burger King improved and replaced the Big Mac with the Big King XL. It’s all in the name of this amazing sandwich. In short time, this offering is one of my all-time favorites.
The burger features more than half-pound of flame-grilled beef, smothered in melted American cheese, sliced onions, pickles, lettuce and Burger King’s version of special sauce. All wrapped in a toasted sesame bun.
There is no cute, iconic jingle for this sandwich but all the ingredients make for one of the best burgers on the market.
- Monster Thickburger (Hardee’s)
The recipe for this burger is simple. Take two one-third charbroiled 100-percent black angus beef patties. The next step is four strips of bacon, three slices of American cheese and mayonnaise, served on a premium bun.
Did this burger just drop the mic?
- Grilled Stuft Burrito
Mr. Taco Bell Tuesday must have at least one item from the establishment on this countdown. The best signature item at Taco Bell is the Grilled Stuffed Burrito. It is filling, tasty and combines a lot of what is awesome about the restaurant in one item.
The original Grilled Stuft Burrito features a large flour tortilla filled with ground beef, beans, rice, a three-cheese blend featuring cheddar, pepperjack and mozzarella. We don’t stop there. Next inside the creation is creamy Pepper Jack Sauce, and Fiesta Salsa. A customer can upgraded to included grilled chicken or steak in place of the ground beef.
With a large mango ice tea, this is the perfect summer treat on a Tuesday in June, July or August.
- Stuff Crusted Pizza
On March 25, 1995, several U.S. Americans asked this question either in a local Pizza Hut or watching the commercial, “Where have you been all my life?”
Pizza Hat introduced the Stuffed Crust Pizza. But the Mongiello family had an answer for those pondering the delay on this awesome creation. Pizza Hut was sued by the family of Anthony Mongiello for $1 billion, over claims that Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust infringed on Mongiello’s 1987 patent (US4661361A) on making stuffed pizza shells.
The concept was placing thick, chewing mozzarella cheese within the crust of the pizza to increase the chances of the eater making the entire slice disappear.
Now the stuffed crust pizza can be bought over the counter and found at other pizzerias. Not all stuffed crust pizzas are created equally. The offering from Pizza Hut has that signature greasy taste and zesty flavor through the crust.
- Happy Meal (McDonald’s)
There is one signature item that has lasted the test of time. It is beloved my all for various reasons. If you’re 45 years old or younger, you know the joy of the McDonald’s Happy Meal. And now it is a tradition you gladly pass down to your children.
McDonald’s rolled out the first Happy Meal in the United States in 1979. McDonald’s first Happy Meal showed a circus theme. According to Time Magazine, the meals included a burger, fries, cookies, and a soft drink. And the happiness came from the toy option for the children which was a “McDoodler” stencil or “McWrist” wallet back in 1979.
From promoting movies, a cartoon or toy line, the Happy Meal is a great commercial vehicle. Then the food itself is a great way to reload after playing at McPlayland. The Happy Meal is marketing genius because it targets children with food and fun. It is a recipe to last the test of time.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.