Fast Food Menu Changes That Upset Customers

As a wise, old philosopher once said, "The only constant in life is change." As we age, just about everything we do changes — technology, the businesses in our neighborhoods, and the people who come and go in our lives. But as we ride the roller coaster of life, there's one thing we can usually always count on to be there for us: Our favorite menu items from fast food joints.

Most of the time, fast food restaurants are the picture of consistency. When customers roll up to that drive-thru menu, they can pretty much always expect to get the same thing every time. But sometimes, the executives at these restaurants decide to take things in a new direction, which can lead to, let's say...unhappiness. There have been several times in America's decorated fast-food history that customers have had to say goodbye to their favorite menu items — and they made sure the world knew they weren't happy. Let's take a look at some of those moments.

McDonald's goes back-and-forth with the chicken tenders

Back in 2004, McDonald's introduced one of its most popular items — the Chicken Selects. Although the golden arches might be more famous for its McNuggets, the chicken tenders were very popular amongst its customers. However, almost a decade later in 2013, the picky-eater favorite was dropped from the menu. Needless to say, people weren't happy. But McDonald's answered its customers' prayers and brought them back four years later under a new moniker — the buttermilk crispy tenders.

Unfortunately, the tendies were once again removed from the menu along with several other items because of supply chain issues McDonald's was experiencing due to the pandemic — which had lasting repercussions, including store closures. People took to the streets (of the internet) to voice their displeasure.

One Twitter user asked, "@McDonalds Chicken tenders the new ice cream machine or what?" referring to the fact that the franchise's machines seem to be perpetually broken. Another Twitter user found out the hard way and asked, "What happened to the chicken tenders? @McDonalds." Fortunately, a spokesperson from McDonald's responded and said they might be back in the near future.

But who knows how long it might take? The people haven't forgotten, either. "Missing Mcdonald's chicken tenders rn," stated Twitter user @AshySlashi. @olesbean claimed, "I would kill a man dead to eat one of the old Mcdonald's chicken tenders again." 

We don't condone violence in any form — but we understand the sentiment.

KFC ditches their potato wedges for fries

When KFC fans first heard the fried chicken joint was experimenting with french fries coated in the Colonel's 11 herbs and spices, people were incredibly excited. However, the new menu item came at a cost: The iconic potato wedges.

KFC confirmed the tragic menu change to several media outlets, including Business Insider. "While we know there are wedge-lovers out there who may be disappointed, consumer response to our Secret Recipe Fries during the test and the rollout has been overwhelmingly positive," said the KFC representative.

"Overwhelmingly" probably isn't the right word here. Several people tweeted to voice their anger. @JaredSimsMedia stated, "The fact that @kfc no longer makes wedges is a crime! Everybody makes fries! KFC made potato wedges the best seasoned wedges ever! And they just do the same thing everyone else does and make fries! @tacobell has fries why do u need fries!?!?!" Another tweeter was equally indignant: "@KFC bring back potato wedges! These fries suck."

@Guitargeek1313 noted, "As soon as I remember @kfc got rid of their wedges, my craving goes away. Can we start a petition to get rid of the trash fries and bring back the yummy wedges?" She wasn't the only one that thought of it. A KFC fanatic started a petition to bring back KFC potato wedges with nearly 5,000 signatures on it.

Take heart, KFC lovers. Who knows, maybe the Colonel will bring back our beloved wedge-shaped potatoes.

Chick-fil-A gets rid of the spicy chicken biscuit

In 2016, Chick-fil-A made drastic changes to its menu that stoked the full fury of its customers. It dropped several items, including coleslaw, oatmeal, cinnamon clusters, a few sauces, and salad dressings, but most notably — the spicy chicken biscuit. People were furious, but the company doubled down on its decision.

David Farmer, Chick-fil-A's vice president of menu strategy and development, went on the record saying, "We don't want folks to think we're walking away from classic Chick-fil-A items. But we are going to have to part with some things to make way for new items" (via Business Insider). The new items in question? The Egg White Chicken Grill — a sandwich comprised of grilled egg whites, American cheese, and grilled chicken breast on a toasted English muffin. The chicken joint also replaced the coleslaw with a side of kale and broccolini.

Needless to say, people were devastated. Several people went straight to the company's Facebook page to tell them how they felt. Matthew Perez stated, "The removal of the spicy chicken biscuit is the greatest atrocity to mankind since apartheid." Lisa Reese-Gordon got more serious: "When you took away my spicy chicken biscuit, you took away my reason to get breakfast." Another user, John Kamp, wrote, "Cole slaw, carrot salad, and now spicy chicken biscuits gone whoever is making these choices should be fired" (via Business Insider and Yahoo!).

If people are calling for the jobs of Chick-fil-A executives, it probably wasn't a popular decision.

Burger King tries to be environmentally healthier — and people don't like it

In the summer of 2020, Burger King jumped on the green business bandwagon and announced it would be changing a few business practices, specifically with where it got its beef from. It began testing burgers with "Reduced Methane Emissions Beef." The company went on record saying adding lemongrass to the diets of cows would help ease digestion while also reducing methane emissions — one of the leading causes of climate change. The company even released advertisements to encourage farms to change cows' diets. 

This didn't sit well with farmers. According to the BBC, farm leaders called the advertisement "condescending and hypocritical."

An agricultural columnist and farmer, Michelle Miller (also known as Farm Babe), put it like this: "Put yourself in our shoes! We in agriculture constantly feel attacked, whether it's from food companies or activists... We oftentimes feel very undervalued and underappreciated, and it would be nice to have brands actually thank us and showcase the work we do. Lift us up, don't tear us down. Without farmers, Burger King has no beef at all" (via AG Daily).

Professor Frank Mitloehner of UC Davis' Department of Animal Science jumped in and said Burger King's campaign wasn't even focusing on the right issue. "It's not the cow farts," he wrote. "Nearly all enteric methane from cattle is from belching. Suggesting otherwise turns this serious climate topic into a joke" (via BBC).

Although Burger King tried to defend its campaign, one thing became clear — don't mess with farmers and scientists.

Taco Bell leaves all potatoes behind

2020 wasn't a great year for most people — especially Taco Bell lovers. In July, the franchise announced it would be dropping all potato-related items off of its menu. This meant fan favorites like the Cheesy Potato Loaded Grillers and the Spicy Potato Soft Taco would meet their demise.

People were upset, but no group of people more than vegetarians. Taco Bell tried to get out ahead of the public discourse with a press release. "We know some vegetarian go-to items might be gone, but Taco Bell's menu remains highly customizable," it read (via Business Insider).

Predictably, the announcement wasn't enough to pacify upset customers. One passionate Twitter user stated this: "Hey @tacobell idk if ur aware, but u were a safe haven when it came to fast food for vegans/vegetarians because potatoes were used to substitute meat. This was probably your worst idea to date. You're about to lose more clientele than you're even aware of."

Customers made sure their voices were heard about the issue, but Taco Bell wasn't the only franchise that downsized because of the pandemic. McDonald's and other brands also had to cut down in order to adapt to what was happening in the world.

Apparently, it was a good move for the business. According to Business Insider, the parent company of Taco Bell (Yum Brands) grew its sales by 5% that year. Executives of the company say the menu change as well as reduced hours helped them reach these financial goals.

No more Quesarito from Taco Bell

In the very same breath that Taco Bell announced it would be axing potatoes from its menu, it also got rid of another fan-favorite: The Quesarito. This unique Taco Bell invention combined a quesadilla with a beef burrito, along with an extra tortilla smothered in its nacho cheese sauce.

People were hurt. One Twitter user wrote, "Taco Bell discontinuing the quesarito might hurt more than McDonald's discontinuing the snack wrap." Another user asked, "Why would they do this to me?" User @mollybails drew the line by stating, "Taco Bell discontinuing the quesarito just means I'll never have Taco Bell ever again."

Although many were devastated by the menu change, there was a silver lining. The removal of the Quesarito from its menu allowed other popular menu items to make a comeback: The double steak grilled cheese burrito and the Bacon Club Chalupa. The cycle of life.

Say Goodbye to McDonald's all-day breakfast

McDonald's has a lot of popular food on its menu, but nothing has a cult-like following as much as its breakfast menu. Whether it's the McMuffins, hotcakes, hash browns, or McGriddles, everyone has their favorite item that they would protect with their lives. McDonald's heard its customers and made one of the most legendary decisions in fast food history in 2015: All-day breakfast. Late risers and breakfast lovers rejoiced.

But the pandemic put a halt to the all-day festivities. Along with its simplified menu alterations, the business decided to stop all-day breakfast to make life easier for its workers. Although the reasoning was understandable, people were not happy.

Twitter user Bailey said, "McDonald's bring back all day breakfast you cowards." Another user asked, "@McDonalds when y'all gone bring back all day breakfast all I want is a McGriddle, and I can't get it."

Although the company played around with the idea of bringing back all-day breakfast, it doesn't look like it's coming back any time soon. According to The Wall Street Journal, the National Owners Association (a group that includes most US McDonald's franchisees) voted it was time to drop all-day breakfast for good.

Looks like McDonald's breakfast menu lovers will have to do the impossible, for now: Get up earlier.

Fan-favorite Mexican pizza gets dropped from the Taco Bell menu

Taco Bell really took the "rip-off-the-bandaid" approach when it restructured its menu in 2020. Not only did it get rid of potatoes and the Quesarito, but it also waved goodbye to the Mexican pizza, another fan-favorite. For those who haven't tried it, this spin on the Italian classic features seasoned beef and refried beans between two tostadas (referred to as Mexican pizza shells on its website), along with a special sauce, a three-cheese blend, and some diced tomatoes to top it off.

The franchise tried to get out ahead of the storm by releasing a statement. "We know some fans may be sad to see this one go, we are too. One silver lining of saying goodbye to the Mexican Pizza that might help you rest easy is that removing it from our menus helps us work towards our commitment to leave a lighter footprint on our planet," said Taco Bell in a press release that has since been taken down from its website (via Fox 59).

Helping the planet did not calm Mexican pizza fans down. One Twitter user stated, "There's no @tacobell without the Mexican pizza. #bringitback."

But the people rallied around the pizza. A petition to save the beloved menu item reached more than a whopping 100,000 signatures. Some big celebrity names backed the petition as well, like Dolly Parton and Doja Cat. Taco Bell heard the cries of its loyal customers and finally decided to bring it back in 2022. The system works.

Subway gets rid of roast beef and rotisserie chicken

In June 2020, Subway made the grossly unpopular decision to cut two of its most popular proteins from its menu: Roast beef and rotisserie chicken. According to an anonymous Subway franchisee, the executives decided it was time to axe them because they were the two most expensive proteins on the menu. Apparently, several Subway operators protested the decision, as both types of meat had big followings at stores across the nation.

They weren't the only ones upset with the decision. Frank Cash stated on Twitter, "My wife works at a Subway ... she says no roast beef is the biggest complaint they receive. She doesn't understand why they took it off the menu either if it's so popular."

Jon Klock felt strongly about the other meat: "@SUBWAY is discontinuing rotisserie chicken!?!? What?! Hands down my favorite sandwich. Really hope they reconsider!"

As time passed, people didn't forget, either. "@SUBWAY 272 without roast beef. Are you [too] rotisserie chicken to answer the question? When is it coming back?" asked Michael Smith on Twitter (apparently on some sort of Subway strike).

Several months after the decision, the executives at Subway finally decided to bring back the two fan favorites beginning in Fall 2021, long after the decision had already caused a strain between Subway and its franchisees. Some blamed new CEO John Chidsey, who had taken over in November 2019. But whoever's fault it was, the important thing is Subway fans have their beloved proteins back.

McDonald's makes the Happy Meal healthier

Should Happy Meals be healthier? That was the great debate of 2018 for the most popular fast-food franchise in the world. Over the years, McDonald's experimented with different ideas to improve its image when it came to health, including giving out 15-minute workout DVDs and introducing menu items like salads and fruit bowls.

Although the company's motives seemed pure enough, customers weren't happy when the fast food franchise made significant changes to its Happy Meal in 2018. McDonald's removed cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from the kid-favorite meal in order to promote healthier options. It also adjusted the size of the french fries in order to keep the meal under 600 calories. According to McDonald's head of global nutrition, the change was simply "a gentle nudge in encouraging more positive choices" (via Business Insider).

Not everyone saw it like that, though. Most people that were angry with the decision felt like it should be the parent's decision what their children eat. A Facebook user named Kim Rideout summed up the sentiment. "Just read that the cheeseburger will be taken out of happy meals. So glad to know McDonald's is the parent of so many children and grandchildren. It is not your job what to feed our kids" (via Business Insider).

Another Twitter user lamented, "Sad day to be a kid! If you take your kid to the largest cheeseburger chain in the world and get pissed that they serve cheeseburgers, you might need a little more help than this."

What do you think? Did McDonald's do parents a favor, or did it take away their freedom of choice?

Culver's leaves Pepsi for Coca-Cola

Fast food fans aren't just protective of their favorite meals — they want their favorite sodas to wash down their meals with as well. In early 2023, Midwestern burger joint Culver's made the decision to switch from Pepsi products to Coca-Cola products for all of its restaurants. That meant customers had to say goodbye to Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Tropicana, and Sierra Mist in exchange for drinks like Coke and Sprite.

People weren't thrilled with the change. Twitter user Abby Spencer claimed, "Discovering that @culvers switched from @pepsi to @CocaCola just ruined my entire day."

Another user agrees: "The day I waited so long during work for a Culvers Pepsi only to get off and pull in to see 'proudly serving Coca Cola products' is when something broke in me."

Shane Sievers made the final decision: "Had my last @culvers today. When you switch back to @pepsi, I will be back."

If you're looking for a silver lining, the company's not getting rid of its signature drinks any time soon. This includes its Culver's Signature Root Beer, Diet Root Beer, Dr. Pepper, and its freshly brewed sweetened (and unsweetened) tea.

The Double Down was controversial, to say the least

When KFC's Double Down was released, you probably had one of two reactions: Disgust or excitement (or disgusted excitement). The innovative sandwich used two extra crispy, fried chicken fillets as buns, and housed melty cheese, crispy bacon, and your choice of mayo or spicy sauce. People freaked out over the creation of the monstrosity (which is probably exactly what KFC was hoping for).

Stephen Colbert tried it live on the air of his late-night show and said, "This is deep-fried madness. This is breaded insanity. It is a sandwich that lacks all sandwich-ness [...] This is a warped creation of a syphilitic brain" (via International Business Times).

Famous New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton gave his review of the sandwich and summed it up by saying, "It is, in all, a disgusting meal, a must-to-avoid."

Not everyone hates it, though. Popular YouTuber Freakin' Reviews calls the meal "a greasy, delicious mess" (but also mentions needing a roll of paper towels for the grease).

In the end, it seems the controversy was exactly what KFC wanted. After the monstrosity's initial appearance (and disappearance) from the menu almost a decade ago, the fried chicken joint decided to bring it back for a limited time in 2023. Nick Chavez, KFC's CMO, was excited to bring KFC's "most buzzworthy" and "iconic sandwich" ever back to its stores for four weeks only (via KFC).

If you're part of the Double Down cult, we hope you got your fix.