Fast Food Menu Items That Were Created By Fans

Everyone has a favorite fast-food menu item, whether it's the classic Big Mac or Taco Bell's Beefy Frito burrito. Fast-food restaurants are skilled at giving people what they want, offering them a selection of carbs, cheese, and fried snacks. Rather than following the rule book of the menu, some customers have taken matters into their own hands. With secret menus becoming nearly as ubiquitous as the real deal, customers creating their own meals from a restaurant's dishes is nothing new.

Some places find the customization of their dishes to be annoying since it adds extra work for the employees and rejects the carefully-crafted dishes already on the menu. Others, however, welcome their customers' enthusiasm and creativity, making secret menu items by request. In a few rare cases, these customer creations have become so popular that they were eventually added to the official menu.

We're not sure if these restaurants were finally worn down by the volume of requests for the particular dish, or if they genuinely feel that they are better off with these fan-created bites. Either way, the customers are definitely winning. Here are fast-food menu items that were originally created by fans.

McDonald's hash brown McMuffin

McDonald's has only recently caved to the popularity of its TikTok-led menu hacks. Although fans have been customizing its dishes since the beginning of time, the chain officially began to include fan-created customizations in January 2022. Starting on January 31 for a limited time, McDonald's added four fan-inspired hacks to its menu. The chain sold the items as "self-assemble" products, meaning that customers received a deconstructed version of the meal to put together themselves.

Although these dishes are no longer available on the McDonald's menu, fans still fondly remember the hacks that brought them so much joy. Plus, while they aren't officially available, you should still be able to order the creations at your local branch. If the employee is confused, just be ready to explain the components of the creation.

The hash brown McMuffin, created by TikTok user Sarah Sandlin, consists of a sausage McMuffin stuffed with a hash brown. The sandwich boasts an extra crunch, bringing the breakfast item to a new level of deliciousness. It was an instant winner and remains the perfect way to start the day. McDonald's did us right with this one!

McDonald's Crunchy Double

When McDonald's made the genius move to incorporate popular customizations, it chose the McDonald's Crunchy Double as an ideal option for a filling lunch or dinner. There's nothing worse than being paralyzed by indecision about what to order. This TikTok hack ensures that you'll never have to decide between chicken nuggets and a double cheeseburger, providing McDonald's fans with the best of both worlds. Although this is no longer on the official menu, you can still make your own version by ordering all of its components and putting them together yourself.

The Crunchy Double was created by TikTok star Greg Simms, whose feed is filled with mouthwatering meals that he discovered at various restaurants. When he posted about the Crunchy Double, he probably didn't expect it to become a national sensation. However, the trend took hold and McDonald's had no choice but to acquiesce to the masses. This customized item involves an order of six-piece chicken nuggets, a double cheeseburger, and the sauce of your choice, including barbecue, jalapeño, and hot mustard. Simply place the nuggets in the cheeseburger, slather on your sauce, and dig in.

McDonald's Land, Air and Sea

This McDonald's menu hack is appropriately named Land, Air and Sea based on the source of its proteins. This fan-inspired sandwich is a combo of the chicken sandwich, a Big Mac, and a Filet-o-Fish, all piled onto one bun. The traditional way to make this monster of a sandwich is to keep the Big Mac buns on the outside and the chicken filet near the top. However, you can make the sandwich any way you like, especially since this meal is also self-assembled. You know you've done it right if it's nearly impossible to take a bite that includes everything.

This innovation was created by TikTok user Julian Broadway, whose feed has a variety of content, from food-based videos to cute cat shots. His Land, Air and Sea invention went viral, earning him his very own influencer meal. The mega sandwich no longer has an official spot at McDonald's, but you can still enjoy it by ordering the three separate components and putting them all together.

McDonald's surf and turf

Another TikTok-inspired creation that was added to the McDonald's menu in January 2022 combines a double cheeseburger and a Filet-O-Fish. This multilayered concoction wasn't available in stores during its stint, but customers could order it for delivery or through the app. Surf and Turf is a classic steakhouse option that combines meat with seafood, commonly steak with shrimp or lobster. Of course, the fast-food version is a little different.

The Surf and Turf was invented by TikTok user PJ Mattingly, whose TikTok content shows a love of tasty food and drink combinations. Although this creation is also no longer on the official menu, you can still make your own by ordering a double cheeseburger and a Filet-O-Fish and placing the fish between the cheeseburger buns along with the beef patties. You'll get an amazing combo of juicy and crunchy textures that'll make you wonder why you haven't tried this mashup before.

The Cheesecake Factory Louisiana chicken Caesar salad

It turns out that McDonald's isn't the only fast-food chain to jump on the TikTok bandwagon. The Cheesecake Factory added a viral TikTok creation to its menu for a limited time on January 10, 2022. Rather than multi-tiered sandwiches that barely fit in your mouth, a salad was at the heat of this extra flavorful hack. The fan-created dish was a Louisiana chicken Caesar salad, which is essentially a glowed-up Caesar that contains Louisiana-style chicken and a topping of caramelized onions.

Anyone who frequents The Cheesecake Factory knows that the chain has an impressive menu featuring plenty of salads that are tasty and filling enough to count as a whole meal. For those in the mood for an even yummier version of the classic Caesar salad, its modified version is the way to go. This creation was made by TikToker Zoya Biglary and then shared by Alix Traeger

At this point the invention went viral, attracting the attention of TikTok foodies around the country. Rather than resisting the customizations, The Cheesecake Factory hopped on board and added the upgraded salad to its menu for a limited time. Although it's no longer officially available, you can still order it by asking your server to add Louisiana-style chicken and caramelized onions to your Caesar salad.

Chipotle fajita quesadilla

Chipotle is the place to go for fast and dependably delicious Tex-Mex. Although the chain's burritos are its most famous dish, no cheese lover should pass up the quesadillas. The classic Chipotle dish is a build-your-own quesadilla, allowing you to choose your own protein, cheese, and add-ins for a customized meal.

However, it's hard to beat the fajita quesadilla, a secret menu item the chain added to the official menu because of its popularity. The iconic fajita quesadilla and the Keithadilla went viral after TikTokers Alexis Frost and Keith Lee posted their customized quesadillas for the world to see. Frost first reviewed a Chipotle steak quesadilla with fajita veggies, rating it a 10/10. 

Lee saw the video and decided to personalize the recipe too, stitching his review of the hack with Frost's original. The two hacks truly went viral when Lee's 10 million followers shared the hack over 69,000 times the following week. After seeing how much love the fan-created quesadillas were getting, Chipotle put them both on the menu on March 2, 2023.

The fajita quesadilla is Frost's favorite order, featuring a fajita quesadilla with steak, along with roasted chili-corn salsa, tomatillo red-chili salsa, and sour cream on the side. This combo of fajita-style sauteed veggies, steak, cheese, and flavorful sides is not to be overlooked. Although you can't order this menu item in stores, you can get it online or through the Chipotle app.

Chipotle Keithadilla

The Keithadilla is Keith Lee's go-to Chipotle order, created by the man himself. The order consists of a fajita quesadilla with steak along with roasted chili-corn salsa, sour cream, and Chipotle honey vinaigrette on the side. The Keithadilla is almost identical to Frost's fajita quesadilla, with the distinction being that it has Chipotle's honey vinaigrette rather than tomatillo red-chili salsa on the side.

Capitalizing on the moment, Chipotle has also added five new quesadilla choices to the menu: steak quesadilla with fajita veggies, chicken quesadilla with fajita veggies, barbacoa quesadilla with fajita veggies, carnitas quesadilla with fajita veggies, and sofritas quesadilla with fajita veggies.

Chris Brandt, Chipotle's Chief Marketing Officer, said in a Chipotle Newsroom press release, "TikTok has not only changed the way we communicate with Gen-Z, but it's proven it can identify areas of opportunity within our business. With the launch of the fajita quesadilla, we are celebrating Keith, Alexis, and all our superfans who were craving this delicious customization while prioritizing support for our employees."

Popeyes mac 'n cheese chicken sandwich

Popeyes is the place to go for Southern fast food, whether you want classic fried chicken or flaky buttery biscuits. The hard part is deciding which menu item to get at this New Orleans-based restaurant. Popeye's is best known for its chicken dishes, which are often deep-fried and Cajun flavored. However, it also serves a tasty catfish dish and knows its way around shrimp. Last year, Popeyes fans came up with their own solution to the struggle of deciding which mouthwatering dish to get, creating a masterpiece of crunchiness, cheesiness, and carbs. Although it's unclear who started the trend, the internet couldn't get enough of Popeyes mac 'n cheese chicken sandwich.

This tasty menu item is exactly what it sounds like: a chicken sandwich with a scoop of mac 'n cheese. Along with these components, the sandwich has spicy Cajun mayonnaise and a couple of sour pickle slices, bringing the meal to a new level of flavor. The fan-inspired item was added to the official menu in April 2022 for a limited time. It isn't currently available as an official dish, but you can still enjoy it in all its goodness by ordering a chicken sandwich with a side of mac 'n cheese and combining the two yourself.

Wendy's S'Awesome bacon classic

From the spicy chicken sandwich to the Baconator, Wendy's offers tons of tasty options. However, this doesn't mean that there's nothing left to experiment with. Wendy's selection of yummy meals doesn't stop fans from coming up with all kinds of combinations. The chain's secret menu is full of genius hacks like the Barnyard burger and the quadruple Baconator.

One modification that has taken Wendy's lovers by storm is the addition of the S'Awesome sauce to everything. Although the sauce was originally meant as a side for the chicken tenders, it eventually came to the chain's attention that customers were ordering it with burgers, fries, and more. The chain decided to take a cue from the fans and make a burger with the sauce, which is how the S'Awesome bacon classic came to be.

Kurt Kane, Wendy's executive vice president, told PR Newswire, "The S'Awesome Bacon Classic was created out of our customer's love for this smoky, tangy sauce." The S'Awesome bacon classic includes beef, applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, crinkle-cut fries, sweet onion, lettuce, and Wendy's S'Awesome sauce on toasted buns.

Arby's Meat Mountain

Most menu modifications come about because someone figured out how to make a dish even tastier than its original form. In the case of the Meat Mountain at Arby's, this new item was born of an Arby's ad that the public took to a new level. As the story goes, Arby's created a poster featuring a stack of all the kinds of meats it sells to remind customers of the wide-ranging selection.

Customers took this as a call to try the stack of meat pictured in sandwich form, and the Meat Mountain was born. Although this ridiculous sandwich isn't on the official menu, any Arby's employee will know what you're talking about it if you order it. This loaded sandwich is as intimidating as it sounds, containing no less than eight different types of meat — Angus steak, bacon, brisket, chicken tenders, corned beef, ham, roast beef, and turkey — and Swiss cheese, all stuffed between two buns.

In-N-Out Animal Style

Every In-N-Out fan knows of the infamous "animal style" secret menu items, from the fries to the burger. This modification to the classic burger makes for a flavorful, saucy version of the regular. "Animal style" is said to have been created by the surfer and skater kids who frequented In-N-Out's first location in Baldwin Park, California, back in the 1960s. 

The youths' belligerence earned them the nickname of animals, while they simultaneously came up with a delicious menu hack of ordering mustard grilled burgers with grilled onions, sauce, and pickles. As the story goes, the staff began calling this customization "animal style" as an ode to the kids who invented it. Although decades have passed since its creation, you can still order your burger or fries "animal style" at In-N-Out.

The animal style burger consists of mustard fried into each patty, as well as pickles, chopped grilled onions, and an additional side of In-N-Out's famous sauce. As for the animal style fries, these are a variation of the secret menu burger and consist of classic fries covered in the famous sauce, melted cheese, and chopped grilled onions.

Chick-fil-A Buffalo chicken mac 'n cheese

This not-so-secret menu item was created by a self-proclaimed foodie in Indiana, Jenee Suggs, who used the extra time during the pandemic to finally test out her invention. In April 2020, Suggs posted a picture of the dish to Facebook before taking a nap. When she woke up, the post had gone viral. No one was more shocked than Suggs, who watched as her invention gained over 28,000 shares.

Suggs' unofficial menu item involves a side of mac 'n cheese, a three-piece of chicken strips, and a side of Buffalo sauce. Put the pieces of chicken into your mac 'n cheese and add a healthy helping of Buffalo sauce. Stir it up and you've got a drool-worthy meal. Although the dish was never officially added to the menu, we can assume that many Chick-fil-A employees have served it. To try an extra flavorful version of the mac 'n cheese you know and love, head to your local Chick-fil-A and give Suggs' creation a shot.

McDonald's McFlurry Sandwich

The iconic McFlurry sandwich was created in 2017 by California Twitter user @nxthvniel_, who posted a picture of his invention with the caption "got 'creative' with my hunger today." This stroke of genius involves ordering an Oreo McFlurry and two chocolate chip cookies to make an ice cream sandwich. His creation went viral, with over 58,000 likes and nearly 20,000 retweets. From that moment on, McDonald's employees around the country were suddenly being asked for the McFlurry sandwich.

This sweet treat was never officially added to the menu, but it became so well-known that it may as well have been. To try it for yourself, head to your local McDonald's and buy the necessary components. Although Oreo is the classic flavor, you can also switch it up by making an ice cream sandwich out of any McFlurry. Who knows, maybe your combination will go viral too!