The 17 Biggest Fast Food Wins Ever

Fast food is the ultimate indulgence, whether biting into a stacked, sauce-slathered burger, crispy chicken, or slurping down an ice-cold root beer crowned with the perfect amount of vanilla soft serve. Whatever your pleasure, it's undeniable that there are simply some fast food items you need to eat before you die and some legendary fast food wins that will go down in convenience culinary history.

From Starbucks' legendary, culture-changing Pumpkin Spice Latte to the Whopper in all its glorious forms, these fast food wins transcended mere drive-thru fare, transforming struggling companies and winning fans from around the world. No matter who you are, you're bound to remember at least a few of these epic fast food campaigns, innovative dishes, and trend-setters. Unfortunately, more than a few have disappeared from menus, but you can still wash your Animal Style In-N-Out burger down with a frosty A&W Root beer Float, and that's something!

1. McDonald's All-Day Breakfast

McDonald's All Day Breakfast was an astounding home run for the company contributing to a 35% jump in profits (via BBC). According to The Washington Post, All Day Breakfast landed in McDonald's franchises all over the country in 2015, featuring mouthwatering breakfast faves like McMuffins, McGriddles, big biscuit sandwiches, and fresh steaming coffee (via Corporate McDonalds).

Despite All Day Breakfast's popularity, the chain halted service during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to simplify and expedite drive-thru traffic. Tragically, there doesn't seem to be any real sign that McDonald's All Day Breakfast will be making its big post-corona comeback (via The Hill). As CNBC notes, a since-deleted tweet set the rumor mill ablaze with the hope that we'd soon see mid-day McGriddles in our future, but it doesn't seem to have any objective validity. Until then, hungry patrons will have to keep their fingers crossed and get their McBreakfasts before 11 a.m.

2. In-N-Out Animal Style burger

It's no secret that In-N-Out has a fabulous clandestine menu of unofficial treats that savvy and starving diners can tap into if they know the correct wording. Animal Style is the most famous variation of all, a patty cooked in mustard, topped with a delectable secret sauce and plenty of toppings (via Business Insider). Animal Style isn't just designated for burgers either; order your fries Animal Style, and you'll get them loaded up with onions, pickles, and dripping with secret sauce (via KGW8).

According to Brit & Co., Animal Style is the most popular off or on-the-menu item at In-N-Out; as fast food lore goes, it all goes back to a group of kids who used to frequent In-N-Out after skating or surfing sessions. Evidentially, the intrepid youths cooked up the concept, and Animal Style was born. So today, skater kid or not, you can order your burger or fries this tasty way.

3. Krispy Kreme's glazed doughnuts

Krispy Kreme's original glazed doughnuts offer the twin benefits of being tasty as all get out and giving you that unique olfactory orgasm the second you smell them. According to the North Carolina Museum of History, it's the irresistible scent that most people associate with glazed Krispy Kremes, a unique combination of fluffy light dough and melting sugar glaze that keeps the customers running when that "hot now" sign lights up. Ceros notes that Krispy Kreme's original glazed doughnuts are akin to "sugar-coated clouds," and some viewing windows let customers peep their crave-worthy doughnuts as they slip through the glaze itself.

According to CNN, Krispy Kreme is always looking for ways to up the yum factor, like combining the taste of these rings of gold with premium ice cream. Whether you opt for a frozen treat or stick true to the original, Krispy Kreme's original glazed donuts are a paragon of confectionary imagination and a true American staple.

4. Popeyes Signature Chicken Sandwich

According to Restaurant Business Online, Popeyes' chicken sandwich helped the fast food company increase sales by 38% in the latter part of 2019 before taking a small dive in 2020. Although Popeyes took a slight hit during the pandemic, it was a comparably small drop considering the massive blow delivered to much of the restaurant industry (via CNBC). Ultimately, we can crunch the numbers and speculate that Popeyes was able to stay above board, thanks in part to its iconic sandwich.

Popeyes' sandwich is so delicious, thanks to a few simple but scrumptious components that all work together harmoniously for the ultimate taste experience. A soft brioche bun, crispy, juicy chicken, and plenty of pickles make up the bulk of the sandwich. Slather on some sauce, and you've got yourself a true winner. Popeyes is even expanding its empire across the pond to the United Arab Emirates, where it will no doubt tempt and delight a whole new customer base with its true Louisiana classic chicken sandwich (via Zawya).

5. Burger King's Whopper

Burger King's Whopper is the fast food behemoth's most recognizable signature offering, enjoying a prominent place on BK menus since its 1957 debut (via Britannica). According to Britannica, the Whopper was Burger King's spectacular answer to McDonald's tiny hamburgers, giving the public more beef and toppings for their bucks and taking off like wildfire. The Whopper's appeal is undeniable, a delicious, flame-grilled burger piled high with veggies, sauce, and cheese, and for a while, that combination dominated the fast food burger world.

Unfortunately, Burger King has made some tone-deaf missteps with its Whoppers recently (via Entrepreneur). However, despite these shortcomings, Burger King has a plan to make you fall for the Whopper again. According to CNN, the company wants to remind hungry customers that the Whopper is both flame-grilled and customizable. Plus, vegetarians can get their Whopper fix, too, thanks to the popular Impossible Whopper (via Plant Based News).

6. A&W root beer float

There's no finer marriage made in confectionary heaven than a cold, carbonated glass of root beer crowned with vanilla ice cream. A&W Restaurants may not have invented this treat, but one could argue the chain did perfect it, thanks to a base of exceptional root beer laced with cane sugar and spices. Add in vanilla soft serve, and you have a chilly, spicy, creamy treat that transcends ages. According to ABC 10, A&W root beer is a top-selling brand with a fantastic following. In 1999, A&W celebrated its 80th anniversary with a massive representation of its signature product, the root beer float (via A&W Restaurants).

PR News Wire notes that A&W Restaurants sometimes celebrate National Root Beer Float Day with complimentary floats and donations to the Wounded Warrior Project. This fusion of charity, Americana, and good old fashioned ice-cream paired with spicy and sweet root beer is a hit with A&W franchises and patrons. Whether it's National Root Beer Float Day or not, you can always stop into a restaurant, belly up to the counter, and order a sky-high vanilla-topped root beer float anytime.

7. Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco

According to Taco Bell, the idea for Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos started with a beautiful dream, eventually morphing into a delicious reality that quickly won over fans and became a game-changer in the world of fast food. According to Forbes, Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos were a bit of a Hail Mary pass for the at-one-time struggling fast food giant, but one that certainly paid off handsomely.

It's hard to argue with the concept. You combine two of America's favorite comfort food; crunchy, cheese, spice-heavy Doritos with meaty, cheesy, sour cream-topped taco fixins and you're bound to have a winner. Plus, according to Taco Bell's website, you can customize your order with extra jalapenos, sauces, or even steak to make it extra super special. The chain eventually added more Dorito flavors, like Flamin' Hot Cool Ranch, which occasionally grace the menu, too, so you can customize your experience with different mouthwatering shells.

8. White Castle's Original Slider

White Castle's Sliders are such a legendary food that the quest for them has even appeared in popular movies like "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," and there's a dedicated fan club called The Cravers Hall of Fame that celebrates the meaty, carby wonders with stories about how White Castle, and its fare, has been part of pivotal moments of people's lives. In fact, according to White Castle's website, Time Magazine notes that White Castle's Sliders might be the "most influential" hamburgers ever to grace a drive-thru, surpassing even the mega-popular Whopper in their cult status.

So what gives? According to White Castle, the Original Slider was the first fast food burger out there, hailing from 1921, since serving 1.4 million sliders every day. In addition to the iconic Original Slider, White Castle rolls out new variations from time to time, including a Barbecue Bacon Slider and a peppery Ghost Slider (via M Live).

9. Pizza Hut's Personal Pan Pizza

Although Pizza Hut's pizzas have undergone plenty of transformations across the ages, there's one standout item that bookworms who grew up in the 1980s will remember; Personal Pan Pizzas. According to Orange Bean Indiana, Pizza Hut teamed up with BOOK IT! to inspire 1980s kids to read. The concept was simple, brilliant, and designed with total kid appeal in mind. BOOK IT! founder Bud Gates' told kids that if they read books, they'd get their own personal pizza to enjoy (via Nick Gray), and a legion of literary and hungry bookworms was born.

BOOK IT! is still going strong, and millions of kids still participate in it (via BOOK IT!), but for that inaugural batch of kids in the 1980s, the pairing of Pizza Hut and Judy Blume books is a cheesy, nostalgic dream served in a sizzling hot personal pan iron skillet. The personal pan pizzas of the 1980s are celebrated on Reddit and have a cherished place in the hearts of elder millennials and Gen X.

10. Sonic's Cherry Limeade

Sonic's sweet, sassy, and slightly sour Cherry Limeade is one of the chain's most popular items, with some Redditors claiming it "tastes like happiness." The secret is the fusion of fresh lime juice and sweet cherries over what Sonic calls its "famous ice." It's an epic, refreshing, and totally unique combination that is a must-savor next time you're at Sonic. It's also a welcome diversion from your usual gas station fare.

The Cherry Limeade is so intensely popular that Sonic is now making it available outside its locations. According to QSR Magazine, you can enjoy frozen and ready-to-drink versions of Cherry Limeade and some of its other top offerings, like Ocean Water drinks. So although there are plenty of Sonics from coast to coast, in the off chance that you can't get to one to drink a Cherry Limeade, it's good to know that you can still enjoy it from your own home.

11. Wendy's Baconator

If you're looking for the ultimate hedonism in a hamburger, we humbly offer you Wendy's Baconator. This towering, heart-stopping stack of patties, cheese, and plenty of bacon might not fit in with your diet plans, but it's a crave-worthy snack that puts Wendy's on the map for thinking outside the conventional burger box. According to The Street, the original Baconator spawned a cottage industry of artery-clogging offshoots, like Baconator fries or a Baconator breakfast sandwich. There was even a spicy Baconator.

Eschewing all healthy vegetables, the original Baconator had six thick slices of bacon and a hearty smear of both ketchup and mayonnaise to really crank the calorie count up. When it comes to outrageous and decadently delicious options, Wendy's certainly went the extra mile with this one, and it paid off. In the first two months after launching, Wendy's sold 25 million Baconators (via Fast Food News).

12. KFC's Double Down

When deciding whether to go bun-free, KFC doubled down on the latter with its short-lived, legendary sandwich featuring fried chicken, mayonnaise, cheese, and bacon. Like Wendy's infamous Baconator, this sandwich is pure hedonism, giving eaters the satisfying crunch of fried chicken, melty cheese, and plenty of crisp bacon in every bite. As The Street notes, the outrageousness of the Double Down was one of its most endearing and marketable qualities, prompting Stephen Colbert to sample one on his show. It also became a pop culture legend, thanks to its unabashed desire to deliver all of the fat and calories without a single green in sight.

According to Meat Poultry, the Double Down pops up from time to time, most recently in Toronto, Canada, but you can also find it in far-reaching places like South Africa, Australia, and Japan. Talk about your crispy fried chicken, cheese-coated global domination.

13. Subway's Five Dollar Footlong

We bet that you can hear the jingle in your head right now. Subway's Five Dollar Footlong was a tasty sensation with a great theme song and a reasonable price tag. According to The Hustle, Subway launched its titular five-dollar deal in 2008, right in the heart of the mid-aughts recession. These five-dollar sandwiches were music to hungry and frugal customers and helped the franchise itself net nearly another four billion dollars in revenue.

The promotion, marketing, and campaign were remarkably successful but put actual franchises in a bit of a bind, leaving them with higher sandwich-making costs and the mandate to sell more five-dollar sammies (via The Hustle). Plus, the international chain got into some hot water when their footlong sandwiches came in at under 12 inches (via Business Insider). Although the original five-dollar deal seems to be a thing of the past, you can still get your Five Dollar Footlong if you buy a sandwich at market price (via Today).

14. Dairy Queen Blizzard

Dairy Queen's Blizzards come in a dazzling array of different flavor combinations and is easily one of the chain's most recognizable and beloved treats. Dairy Queen first launched the Blizzard back in 1985, and according to a vintage New York Times article from the era, it was a hit the following summer. The New York Times called Dairy Queen's Blizzard the "bestseller this summer" and noted that the chain projected a 175 million Blizzard selling spree across its 4,000 plus stores, up from half the previous year.

Dairy Queen's Blizzards hit the right combination of tasty soft serve vanilla ice cream and toppings, a combo copied but never fully perfected by the like of the McFlurry. Now with tons of different flavors, everyone can customize their Blizzard fix. From 1980s staple to perennial summertime classic, the Blizzard lives on and probably will for many summers to come.

15. Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Of all the foods on our list, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, or PSL, is one of the most legendary. To say that Starbucks started a movement with its PSLs is an understatement, as these drinks have come to define sweater weather with their unique mixture of autumnal spices, milk, and fresh hot coffee. Add whipped cream if you're sassy, lace up your Uggs, and you're ready to hit the pumpkin patch. According to Business of Business, Pumpkin Spice Lattes jolted Starbucks into infamy immediately, generating a buzz that resulted in over six times the amount of usual Starbucks-related internet chatter.

Although it's synonymous with Starbucks now, the PSL almost make it onto the menu (via The Wall Street Journal). Fortunately, Starbucks made the right call and cemented its reputation as the world's biggest and best comfort food coffeehouse. Although we're sure that the coffee has something to do with it, there are also scientific reasons why we can't get enough pumpkin spice.

16. McDonald's McRib

The McDonald's McRib is a saucy little square of porky goodness, BBQ sauce, and plenty of toppings. Although plenty of people love the McRib, it's also got some detractors. If you're not sure what camp you fall into, we'd suggest not taking a peek behind the McRib making curtain (via ABC News). For the rest of us, the McRib represents a salty, sauce little slice of heaven that first debuted in 1981. According to Guilty Eats, the McRib was wildly unsuccessful upon its first rollout, but the company kept trying, and eventually, it caught on.

One of the key reasons why the McRib is so popular is that you never know when or where you're going to find it. Every few years or so, McDonald's rolls out another iteration of the McRib, delighting fans and tearing up Redditors who claim "the glorious and terrible McRib is back."

17. Tim Horton's Timbits

Canadian-born coffee and donut sensation Tim Horton's has found a way to capitalize on its popular donut flavors and give consumers the option to chow down on a bunch of them all at once. Meet Timbits; tiny, two-bite spheres packed with classic donut tastes that you can get in 10 or 20 packs. Most locations will even let you customize your Timbit selection, so you can try some of those wacky new seasonal flavors without committing to a whole donut.

Timbits are so popular that in 2022, Tim Hortons even designed a promotional pool float shaped like a box of the balls-o-fun (via Blog TO). Although these wee Timbits might look adorable and youthful, they're actually fast approaching middle age, at 46 years old (via Tim Hortons). They're also so intensely popular that a line of all of the Timbits ever eaten would reach to the moon several times.