The Most Overhyped Secret Menu Items You Don't Have To Bother Trying

There was a time when secret menus weren't a thing. You'd go to your favorite chain restaurant and order something straightforward and not secretive at all, from the same menu as everyone else. Somewhere along the line, though, secret menus became a way for diners to have fun and feel special. By ordering off the secret menu, customers were part of an exclusive club, where they were in the know and someone else wasn't. Sometimes, ordering a secret menu item even meant you were able to weave an innuendo into your order with a completely straight face (see the In-N-Out animal-style craze or the McDonald's McGangBang or even the Sonic Dr. Pepper Orgasm).

But where did these secret menu items come from? In some cases, they were marketing ploys (whether that marketing ploy was started by the restaurant or something the restaurant just jumped on organically, kind of like the way In-N-Out now has an entire web page dedicated to its secret menu — which kind of ruins the whole "secret" concept). In other cases, they were items that were originally one customer's very customized order that just so happened to catch on with others.

Regardless of where or how a secret menu got its start, some of them are far too overhyped for what they actually are. Sometimes, the secret isn't worth knowing. Here are some of the most overhyped secret menu items that you don't even have to bother trying.

In-N-Out's most famous secret menu item isn't really a secret

We'll start with one of the most well-known "secret" menu items, or rather collection of secret menu items. Even those who don't live within driving distance of an In-N-Out location often know that the chain serves up something called an animal-style burger, even if they don't know what that means. The animal-style burgers are cooked in mustard and topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, and extra spread. The animal-style fries are just fries topped with cheese, grilled onions, and more of the spread.

The rumor is, the animal-style line of menu items came about when some surfer and skate kids would order their burgers with the above customizations and the workers would refer to them as "animals." So, really, the origins aren't quite as salacious as you might at first imagine, and because everyone knows about the animal-style secret menu items, they're not that special. Where's the appeal of a secret when everyone's in on it? You could say that the appeal is in the deliciousness of these menu items, but even that's a stretch. The only thing that really makes animal-style burgers and fries stand out from any other burger and cheese fries is the spread, which is just a glorified Thousand Island dressing.

Go beyond surf and turf, to surf, turf, and barnyard with McDonald's Land, Sea, and Air burger

Some secret menu items simply come about when some customer orders a bunch of regular menu items and then tries to squash and shove them together in order to create something new, and that's how you end up with Frankenstein-esque concoctions like the McDonald's Land, Sea, and Air burger. The Land, Sea, and Air burger combines three of McDonald's most popular menu items into one behemoth sandwich. It includes a Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish, and McChicken. This is likely one secret menu item, though, that you might need to put together yourself after ordering all of the various components. Just throw out the McChicken and Filet-O-Fish buns, and then slide all the innards onto the Big Mac.

The Land, Sea, and Air burger is likely the most popular secret menu item you can get at McDonald's, but is it really worth it? You have to do the actual messy work of putting the sandwich together, and then what do you have? A pile of mismatched meat? Sure, the name is cute, but this is one overhyped item that's not worth the time nor the mess.

A secret menu item for the dogs

Starbucks' secret menu is huge. There's even an entire website dedicated to compiling all of the different secret menu options. However, there's one secret menu item that really sticks out as overhyped: the Starbucks Puppucino. A cute gimmick that dog-owners and dog-lovers rave about, the free Starbucks Puppucino is simply an espresso cup filled with whipped cream. No more, no less. It's whipped cream. That's it. All of the appeal is in allowing your dog to lick some stuff out of a Starbucks-branded cup and then snapping a few pics for Instagram.

This is one place where Starbucks really missed out. Rather than offer a cup of whipped cream for free to dogs, they could've actually made a real Puppucino with something other than whipped cream (and it certainly can be done, as food blog Damn Delicious proves, with its recipe for a Puppucino made with yogurt, pumpkin puree, oats, and cinnamon) and then charged money for it. All of the dog lovers on Instagram would certainly pay for it.

This Chipotle secret menu item provokes impassioned responses from former employees

Secret menus can cause some problems. As a Spoon University article accurately points out, many chain restaurants work like well-oiled machines, but when you go rogue and order something off the secret menu, chaos ensues, causing headaches for both employees and the other customers around you. This is absolutely the case at Chipotle, where employees are vocal about their dislike for customers who order off the secret menu, especially when it comes to one item: the famed quesarito, a.k.a., a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla.

"I remember the face of every fiend who ever ordered one ... It was hell," says one former Chipotle employee on Reddit. "They bog down the line in an already faulty system. Quesaritos require a relatively large amount of time to prepare. Ordering one during a rush takes a worker away from the line that could be utilized elsewhere."

Additionally, other Redittors on the same thread make note that the employees making the quesaritos are required to touch the quesadilla's melted cheese during the rolling process, which can burn straight through their plastic gloves. One previous worker said, "Some f**k decided that making a burrito from a melted quesadilla was a good idea (aka 'quesarito'). Do you realize that cheese is MOLTEN and literally melting the flimsy plastic gloves onto fingers?! It took months to regain the feeling in my fingers after I left that job."

Sometimes a little innuendo is all you need to get famous

How the McDonald's McGangBang gained its terrible name is a mystery, but it's just a testament to the fact that, no matter how truly bad something is, sex sells, and an innuendo-laden name will almost certainly make a secret menu item popular. More affordable than the McDonald's Land, Sea, and Air burger, the McGangBang only costs a few dollars to make, as it's created from two combined items off the McDonald's value menu: the McChicken and the McDouble. 

It's another sandwich that requires you to get your hands dirty because the McGangBang is created when you take the McChicken and simply place it between the McDouble's two patties, buns and all. The result is a less-than-tasty sandwich made up of two uncomplimentary types of proteins and a whole lot of bread. As one reviewer said, "In combining the various layers ... these varied tastes effectively cancel each other out, substituting flavor for texture and an odd sense of unease."

This KFC secret menu item is a slap in the face to Canadian cuisine

Canada has a long and interesting relationship with poutine, as the dish has gone from junk food status to culinary canvas and everywhere in between. Typically simply French fries covered in cheese curds and brown gravy, the dish occasionally receives fancy upgrades, resulting in poutine-adjacent dishes like a version that was once served to Justin Trudeau and described as "shavings of smoked duck and cheese curds finished with red wine gravy and served on delicate wafer fries."

But one place where Canadians (or any poutine fan) would likely never expect to see poutine? KFC. Yet, KFC's secret menu includes poutine, or KFC fries covered in KFC chicken gravy and cheese curds. This is a disaster for many reasons, with the first being that KFC is starting with a base that their customers don't even like to begin with, KFC french fries. Then, they add chicken gravy, which is not typical for poutine. One reviewer noted that, at the end of the day, KFC's poutine is at least tasty, but it has some downsides, including being "soggy," "strangely thick," and "gloppy."

Half of In-N-Out's secret menu is just plain lazy

In-N-Out's "not-so-secret" menu page includes six secret menu items, but three of the six items aren't even really that special. In fact, all they are are the regular In-N-Out burgers with extra patties added. The Double Meat (sometimes referred to as the 2x2) includes two patties, the 3x3 includes three patties, and then the 4x4 includes four patties. There's nothing special about them.

Now, what actually could be considered special? When you take the concept of an extra hamburger patty and take it all the way, and we're talking all the way — to 100 patties, that is. In-N-Out's current policy limits burgers to the 4x4, in terms of size, but in years past, hungry diners could go above and beyond, such as with the 100x100 burger. Even the significantly smaller 20x20 burger is still impressive and more secret menu-worthy than a 4x4. After all, you can currently get triple patties on burgers from a whole handful of fast-food joints, including Burger King, Wendy's, and Rally's.

A Dutch burger leaves a lot to be desired

There are a few select In-N-Out secret menu items that do not appear on the "not-so-secret" menu page, meaning that they are, in comparison, actually kind of secret. One of these is the Flying Dutchman. Unfortunately, even with the cool name, the Flying Dutchman isn't really that cool and is actually pretty lackluster. It's literally just some hamburgers with cheese melted in between. No sauce, no bun, no tomatoes, no condiments or toppings of any kind. Just meat and cheese.

According to a Quora user, the founder of In-N-Out, Harry Snyder, created the combination as a snack for himself and, because of Snyder's Dutch origins, the snack gained the name the Flying Dutchman. But, when all you're getting are two patties and two slices of cheese, your time and your calories could be better spent ordering something else at In-N-Out, secret menu or not.

What could be more tantalizing than a cube of meat?

Hint: a lot. A lot could be more tantalizing than a cube of meat. Who says "meat cube" and "that sounds delicious" in the same breath? Apparently someone did, and subsequent Wendy's diners have, as the Wendy's meat cube has gained a spot on the fast food restaurant's circulating secret menu. But if you're all amped up to chow down on a legitimate cube of meat, you'll be sorely disappointed because the Wendy's meat cube isn't a cube at all. Instead, it's just a regular burger with a lot of extra meat.

The normal Dave's Hot 'n Juicy burger is loaded with generally four beef patties and your toppings of choice for a total of pound of meat on the burger. Wendy's does offer a three-quarter pound burger, so even if the wearied employee taking your order doesn't know or care to know what a meat cube is, getting your way isn't difficult. Just ask them to add an extra patty to the three-quarter pound burger. Voila — meat cube. Just be prepared for the meat sweats.

The meat fest continues with Arby's meat mountain

There's definitely something about secret menus and extra meat. Touted as a secret menu item, Arby's meat mountain sandwich was a real menu item at one point and now remains on the fringes of Arby's culture, appearing on the Arby's official secret menu page, much like In-N-Out's so-called secret offerings. Perhaps the largest sandwich that Arby's has ever offered, it contains two chicken tenders, turkey, ham, corned beef, brisket, steak, roast beef, pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, and Swiss cheese.

While the sandwich itself isn't that surprising given Arby's "We Have the Meat" mantra, it's also a little unnecessary. Who needs that much meat? It won't even stay on the bun for very long, and forget trying to eat it. The 1,000-calorie, 3,000-plus-milligrams-of-sodium behemoth falls apart in your hands and, while tasty for true carnivores, comes with its downsides, not limited to the gastrointestinal aftereffects, super-salty taste, and mishmash of meats that don't necessarily work well together.

The secret menu is sometimes just an excuse to use naughty words in public

We've already seen it several times on this list. Sonic's Dr. Pepper Orgasm is just another instance of a secret menu item evolving as a mere excuse to use some innuendos in front of the wait staff as you giggle like a red-faced teenager all the while. Beyond the name, the drink isn't that special, particularly when you consider Sonic's very long line of specialty drinks that are right on the menu, such as the Cherry Limeade.

The Dr. Pepper Orgasm is made with Dr. Pepper, lemonade, and Powerade — nothing terribly orgasmic about it, though the online consensus is that the drink is "unforgettable" and will "keep you coming back time and again." Additionally, the drink is pretty well-known among staff, so they'll likely get what you're talking about and possibly only greet your order with an eye roll. However, if you want to mix and match drink combinations to your heart's content, you don't need a secret menu in order to do so — just head to your nearest 7-Eleven.

A Shake Shack adults-only dessert is either a hit or miss

Sure, you likely know that you can order a root beer float at Shake Shack, but did you know that you can ask for a scoop of custard in your Shake Shack beer as well? While some claim that this is one of the best secret menu items to order at Shake Shack, it's really a hit or miss combination and one you'll either love or hate. It's not going to be a clear winner across the board.

This is partially due to the difficulty involved in making a beer float. Just a look at how one expert breaks down how to pair beer and ice cream, and it's clear that a lot of thought has to go into your pairings. It's not as simple as tossing a spoonful of vanilla ice cream into some fizzy root beer. You have to consider beer type, ice cream flavor, ice cream ingredients, texture, temperature, and more. You could take a gamble on a Shake Shack fast food beer float, but if you don't like the combo, don't let it put you off beer floats for good.

This Taco Bell secret menu item isn't so special

When you consider the Taco Bell double grilled quesadilla, you might think that there's something extra-special about it, particularly when you know it's a secret menu item. Maybe the filling, like the chicken or steak, is extra-grilled? Maybe there's a fajita-like filling? But no. The Taco Bell double grilled quesadilla is your standard Taco Bell quesadilla, supposedly grilled twice as long as normal, which is intended to make the quesadilla crispier and crunchier.

Unfortunately, that's not the experience most diners who order the Taco Bell double grilled quesadilla are reporting. Instead, they're getting the same, normal quesadillas. As one Business Insider reviewer said, "I'm not sure if the crisp was always a lie, or if the Taco Bell had simply single-grilled my quesadilla, but there was no crisp. There was just melted cheese and sad, sad chicken chunks." A Reddit user with a similar experience posted a photo of a pale, limp quesadilla with one question: "WTF?"

Starbucks' Butterbeer Frapp isn't as magical as you'd hope

Starbucks has many, many lackluster drinks on its expansive secret menu, but if there's one that should live up to the hype, it's the Butterbeer Frappucino. After all, it's a Harry Potter reference. Shouldn't it be extra tasty and extremely magical? The Starbucks take on the wizard favorite is a vanilla frapp with caramel syrup, toffee nut syrup, and a caramel drizzle. The result? Pure sugar and a sickening level of sweetness.

While those with a sweet tooth might not mind this concoction, it's certainly not that true to the original concept. J.K. Rowling had originally said that butterbeer tasted like "less sickly butterscotch," (think less sweet), and according to Food & Wine, even the butterbeer on offer at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter is less complex than the stuff Starbucks is serving up, saying it's merely "butterscotch cream soda, with a float of something like toasted marshmallow creme."