Beloved Fast Food Items We Already Lost In 2023

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Remember back when the only beloved fast food item you expected to lose was McDonald's McRib? Those were the days. In 2023, we're almost surprised if our favorite menu items are still around from visit to visit. Menus keep changing. Foods disappear. If you find one of your favorites on this list, we apologize. However, for some of these menu items, like KFC's chocolate chip cookies, the writing was already on the wall that it needed to go. Other discontinued menu items from 2023 like the grilled chicken sandwiches at Wendy's represent millions of dollars in savings the chain expects to make. 

At the end of the day, it's a numbers game. Restaurants keep tabs on what's selling and what's not, or they decide to streamline the menu to make the drive-through line move ever faster. It's really nothing personal. However, when a drink like the Dunkaccino from Dunkin' disappears, it feels personal. After all, the Dunkaccino has been around since 2000.

A quick check of this list can confirm whether the menu item you're not seeing at your local restaurant is a discontinued fast food item for 2023 or not. If a favorite is discontinued, you can always petition the restaurant to bring it back. After all, fast food menu comebacks have become as much of a marketing ploy as anything else these days.

Dunkin' Dunkaccino

One of the most surprising discontinued fast food items in 2023 is the Dunkin' Dunkaccino. The donut shop decided to dump it in mid-March of 2023. The hot version of the mocha-like drink first appeared in 2000, with the chain adding a frozen version in 2015. Now, both are gone from the menu forever. A Dunkin' spokesperson issued a statement to Today confirming that the Dunkaccino is disappearing to streamline the menu and make room for new drinks. "The Dunkaccino is retired for now, but there's always the chance for its return in the future," according to the statement.

One Redditor lamented the loss of the Dunkaccino, saying they rarely ordered anything else at Dunkin' since the drink came out all the way back at the turn of the century. Since a machine rather than a barista made the drink, they knew they could rely on it always having a consistent flavor every time. Luckily, Meagan Lewis-Michelson has already posted a secret menu hack on TikTok to explain how to continue to get a Dunkaccino at Dunkin'. While the chain is getting rid of its Dunkaccino, it's not getting rid of the hot chocolate from the same machine, so all you have to do is order a hot chocolate with a turbo shot.

Dunkin' Thin Mint Flavor Swirl

Dunkin' hit on a brilliant idea in 2018 by launching drinks with Girl Scout cookie flavors. If you'd already eaten your stash of Girl Scout cookies for the year, you could still go down to your local Dunkin' and get a coffee drink flavored like Thin Mints, Coconut Caramels (which many of us call Samoas), or S'mores. It was even possible to find bottles of refrigerated Dunkin' Iced Coffee in these flavors.

Unfortunately, after 2023's Girl Scout cookie season ended, Dunkin' made it clear that it will no longer be offering its Thin Mint Flavor Swirl drink, featuring the flavors of chocolate and mint. Dunkin' responded on Twitter to a question from user @eleanagina24 in March 2023 about whether the Thin Mint flavor would be coming back. Unfortunately for fans of the flavor, Dunkin' said, "At this time, we don't have any plans to bring back the Thin Mint Flavor Swirl." However, if you're really craving a mint chocolate coffee drink, you can always make a Big Train brand Chocolate Mint coffee drink at home.

KFC's Kentucky Fried Chicken Wings

There may be entire restaurants dedicated to the chicken wing phenomenon, but it wasn't working out for KFC. Thus, its Kentucky Fried Chicken Wings flew off the menu. This move is all part of KFC's decision to simplify its menu with only its most popular items. Four other menu items disappeared at the same time. KFC's U.S. director Brittany Wilson told Food & Wine in February 2023 that "removing a few items ... will allow us to make room for some new, exciting additions to the menu in 2023." By simplifying its menu and cutting items that not every location is offering and items that aren't selling as well, the chain hopes it can improve drive-through times.

When Reddit learned which menu items were disappearing in 2023, nobody seemed to care that the Kentucky Fried Chicken Wings were on the chopping block, instead bemoaning the loss of other items from the list. So, maybe the chicken wings were a good choice to cut. There are certainly plenty of restaurants out there that are making good ones.

KFC's Popcorn Chicken Combo

Another item leaving the KFC menu in the spring 2023 is the Popcorn Chicken Combo. If you're a fan of KFC's chicken tenders, you don't have to worry because those are staying on the menu. It's just that, in the course of simplifying menu boards, it seemed that the less-popular popcorn chicken option was taking up too much valuable real estate. The popcorn chicken isn't technically gone, since bite-sized pieces of fried chicken still show up in the chain's Famous Bowl.

Several KFC customers on Reddit say that the Popcorn Chicken was the only reason they ever went to KFC, although several rarely visit anymore. Reddit user u/Chelsea75 says, "The popcorn chicken was the best thing on the menu. In the early 2010's it was excellent. Last time I ordered it though it was awful." With popcorn chicken fans rarely visiting and the menu items suffering from quality decline, perhaps it was time for the menu item to depart.

KFC's Nashville Hot Sauce

Nashville hot chicken has been all the rage on menus. While it got its start in the 1930s, it has only spread out of Nashville and onto restaurant menus in a big way in more recent years. KFC jumped on the trend in 2016. While the Nashville hot craze is still going strong, spawning new restaurants and food trucks across the U.S., it apparently wasn't working out that well for KFC. So, to make room for the menu items that are selling well, KFC removed anything with Nashville hot sauce from its menus.

However, there were plenty of people who liked KFC's Nashville hot menu items. Reddit user u/CoryanddtheBrain said, "They've basically been begging me to stop visiting for the past few years but this would be the final nail in the coffin." Others echoed these sentiments, saying they'd have no reason to return to KFC once the chain got rid of its Nashville hot sauce.

KFC's Strawberry Lemonade

An additional casualty of the great KFC menu cull of 2023 is its Strawberry Lemonade. It once stood as one of the few beverage options available for people not wanting to caffeinate themselves. KFC used Dole Classic Lemonade to make its Strawberry Lemonade, so it wasn't just some home-grown beverage. At one point, you could even order it in a giant-sized sharable plastic packet that looked like you were slurping your Strawberry Lemonade out of a KFC chicken bucket. The new simplified menu at KFC still has lemonade, but there is sadly no Strawberry Lemonade in sight anymore.

Perhaps not enough people knew about it. Twitter user @farmers_wife18 asked, "Why don't more people talk about how good KFC's strawberry lemonade is? I just had it and I'm in love." Several Twitter users declared it better than a similar drink at Wendy's. But, alas, not enough customers were buying it for KFC to keep it around on the new, simplified menu.

KFC's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Among the menu items you surprisingly won't be seeing at KFC anymore in 2023 is its chocolate chip cookies. Once upon a time, KFC baked its cookies on site, and they were pretty good. However, since KFC started to serve packaged cookies in 2019, they haven't gone over well, ranking dead last among fast-food chocolate chip cookies in one Mashed review.

Any cost and time savings that KFC picked up by no longer baking its cookies fresh seems to have been lost in quality. Reddit user u/exick said, "Good riddance to those chocolate chip cookies, which are major trash." Nobody is disagreeing and begging KFC to keep its chocolate chip cookies, so perhaps it was wise to let them go in favor of something customers will like better. Hopefully, whatever it is, it won't come pre-packaged. Meanwhile, if you're looking for good fast-food chocolate chip cookies, we suggest getting them from McDonald's, Starbucks, Panera, Chick-fil-A, or Wendy's.

Panera's Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich

Just like Cicis mac and cheese pizza, Panera's served a sandwich that was a mac and cheese lover's dream. Not only did the grilled mac and cheese sandwich contain mac and cheese, but it also featured Parmesan Cheese Crisps. It maximized your ability to enjoy bready pasta goodness with lots of creamy cheese sauce. Plus, you could get it as a part of the chain's choose-two deals with either soup or salad. But, alas, it wasn't everyone's idea of a great sandwich. It has been erased from menu boards at Panera in 2023.

It was especially popular with kids. However, it wasn't nearly as popular with employees. Panera employee u/deadgirlwaltzing expressed on Reddit that she's glad it's gone because it tended to take extra effort to make. She said, "No one ever ordered it until it was 10 minutes to close and we were somehow out of the mac blend and there were no prepped macs left." So, while Panera could probably still technically make it since they always have bread and the macaroni and cheese remains on the menu, we wouldn't bet on them wanting to do so.

Starbucks' raspberry syrup

For as long as we can remember, we've been able to order anything at Starbucks with raspberry flavoring. Whether you wanted a raspberry mocha, a raspberry steamer, or a raspberry lemonade, the raspberry syrup was sitting there will all the other flavors just waiting for you to ask for it. Through the years, it has been a key component in both listed menu items like the Raspberry Chiffon White Mocha and secret menu items like the Raspberry Cheesecake Mocha Frappuccino.

As raspberry is being phased off the menu, a Starbucks spokesperson told Parade, "Customers can expect limited inventory at stores throughout March as we remove it from our menu." So, if you need your raspberry Starbucks fix, you might still be able to find some locations that still have a bit of raspberry syrup on hand for a while. But, once it's gone, it's gone. Starbucks customers are hoping the chain is replacing it with another syrup flavor like lavender, strawberry, or even orange for creamsicle-flavored drinks. Starbucks apparently discontinued its raspberry syrup once before, so there's always hope it can resurface again in future years.

Wendy's Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad

If you've tried to order a salad from Wendy's lately, you'll notice that the salad menu has shrunk considerably to only three salads. Sadly, the Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad is the latest casualty on Wendy's salad menu and has disappeared from the menu as of March 2023. A Wendy's informant on Reddit leaked an internal memo from the chain, revealing that the Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad is being replaced by a new Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad on March 28.

Wendy's customers were excited when the restaurant first offered the Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad in 2018. Reddit user u/utahjuzz called Wendy's Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad "a keto dream." However, the upcoming Cobb salad should still fill that niche with its chicken, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and crispy fried onions (but sadly no avocados). Interestingly enough, the newest salad lineup for 2023 is looking strangely like the lineup of "New Garden Sensation Salads" that Wendy's introduced in 2010. In the spring of 2023, Wendy's will offer a Parmesan Caesar Salad, Taco Salad, Apple Pecan Salad, and Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad. Whereas, in 2010, the chicken Caesar salad was spicy, the taco salad was called a "Baja salad," the apple pecan salad had "chicken" in the name rather than just on the salad, and the Cobb salad was BLT-inspired.

Wendy's grilled chicken sandwiches

Anyone who has ever worked in fast food knows that grilled chicken sandwiches rarely sell as well as fried chicken sandwiches. Customers liked Wendy's grilled chicken sandwiches when they ordered them, but people tend to give into their fried chicken cravings far too easily when it comes to finally making their order. With spicy chicken sandwiches appearing on so many fast food menus now (and, of course, Wendy's has one), it's no wonder grilled chicken sandwiches are being neglected. Thus, all of Wendy's grilled chicken sandwiches are among the many discontinued fast food items in 2023.

According to a Wendy's internal memo leaked on Reddit, the chain is replacing all of its large pieces of grilled chicken with diced chicken. The memo also reveals that switching to diced chicken for its salads and wraps will allow Wendy's to save $20 million to $30 million yearly. If you're not in the mood for salads or burgers, there are still plenty of different chicken sandwiches on the menu at Wendy's, and nearly all of them come in spicy and non-spicy versions. However, they all now contain fried chicken instead of grilled chicken.

Wendy's sunburst melon lemonade

Among all the menu items leaving Wendy's menu in the spring of 2023 is its sunburst melon lemonade. As of March 28, it had completely disappeared from the menu. Wendy's will continue to offer its all-natural lemonade, strawberry lemonade, and pineapple mango lemonade. On the same day that the sunburst melon lemonade disappeared, lemonade fans got a new flavor to replace it: blueberry pomegranate lemonade. It sounds like the perfect drink for a maximum pucker-riffic lemonade experience. We hope we're right.

It seems that nobody on Reddit had anything good to say about the sunburst melon lemonade flavor, so it's probably the right choice for the restaurant to eliminate it from its menu. Customers complained that, with over 100 grams of sugar for a large-sized drink, it was overly sweet. One person who tried it said it tasted like Mexican Chamoy candy, while others said it tasted like a mix of watermelon, spoiled cantaloupe, and maybe even cucumber. While strawberry was mentioned as a flavor note, nobody suggested that it tasted anything like lemons. With no love for the drink, we bid good riddance and welcome its successor –- blueberry pomegranate lemonade –- to the menu.

Chicken Express' Serendipity hot seasoning salt

Hot chicken is all the rage, but you can't get it anymore at Chicken Express -– at least for now. The fried chicken restaurant had been offering Serendipity hot seasoning salt for customers who wanted hot chicken. Unfortunately, the company that made it, Jess Hall's Serendipity LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2023. Beginning that month, once Chicken Express restaurants used up their seasoning, they had to tell customers it was impossible to order more. For a while, you could get the seasoning from H.E.B. grocery stores, but they're out now, too.

There was a time when you could order Serendipity seasoning online, but it appears to all be gone now unless someone hoarded a bottle or two to sell on eBay at exorbitant prices. However, copycat Serendipity seasoning recipes are available. So, you can still satisfy your craving for the seasoning even if Chicken Express no longer carries it. One recipe starts with 3 tablespoons of salt. Then, you'll add 1 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, MSG, and sugar. The seasoning gets a ½ teaspoon each of paprika and corn starch. Finally, you'll top it off with ¼ teaspoon each of turmeric, oregano, and cumin. To accomplish the heat portion of the seasoning, you'll add ¼ of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more if you want your chicken even hotter). If you don't want to make your own, several fans of the seasoning suggest ENVIE all-purpose seasoning salt as an alternative.

Denny's Beyond Burger

Since 2020, you've been able to order a Beyond Burger from Denny's if you wanted a plant-based patty instead of a ground beef one. However, starting in March 2023, Denny's discontinued using them. Even though Beyond Burgers are no longer on the menu, you can still ask for them for a little while in the hopes that the restaurant still has a supply of Beyond Meat available. However, once the restaurant runs out, it won't be ordering any more.

Luckily for those who don't want to order a meat-based burger, the chain will be switching to a new veggie burger. This is good news for customers who prefer the taste of a veggie burger to the taste of plant-based patties that try to mimic hamburger. Denny's will soon be offering Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger. If the burger is the same as what is available for the public to purchase via retail, it's a vegan burger. However, it does contain soy, which is off-putting to some veggie-burger fans. If you've ever had a veggie burger at White Castle and liked it, you can rest assured that you'll be satisfied with the new veggie burger at Denny's since it will now be using the same patty. Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers are among the best-liked of that brand's different veggie burgers, so we're optimistic most customers will be happy with the change.