Why Turkey Almost Never Appears On Fast Food Menus

While fast food restaurants conjure up mental images of burgers and chicken sandwiches, these chains present a false picture of what meats really take center stage in our lives. According to the USDA, pork ranks as the most consumed meat in the world, and while poultry comes in as the second-most popular meat, we typically only see chicken widely available at our local fast food joint. This poultry preference might seem strange, especially considering how much Americans love their turkey. In addition to starring in Thanksgiving Day feasts nationwide, Disney serves up 2.5 million pounds of turkey legs at their parks each year (via Disney Dorks).

While Americans clearly love indulging in some turkey, most fast food chains haven't embraced the protein. According to The Takeout, the challenge of getting a new kind of poultry onto menus takes a sea change. Chains like to establish a menu featuring a select amount of ingredients that can appear in a variety of items. When a new protein like turkey enters the fray, chains lose some efficiency, especially if only one or two items feature the unique ingredient. In order for chains to embrace turkey as a popular meat, full menus need to embrace the meat for maximum efficiency and profits. For this same reason, Arby's makes waves when they roll out new turkey items.

Where to get your fast food turkey

When it comes to scoring a fast food offering featuring turkey, you usually have to get lucky. According to Business Insider, Arby's took advantage of some deep fried turkey in their set of sandwiches several years ago, and released several versions of the sandwich to take advantage of the protein. The chain brought these sandwiches back in 2020, allowing consumers to choose between three takes on the classic deep fried turkey item (via Delish). Each time Arby's brought turkey to the menu, they followed the above-mentioned rule of using the ingredient in multiple menu items, supposedly to increase efficiency and create a more streamlined dining experience.

One day, more fast food chains may embrace turkey as an optimal protein choice, but until that day comes, you have to keep a close eye out for restaurants offering up this choice protein. In the meantime, take advantage of turkey when you get the chance to get your fill of this poultry that deserves some more time in the limelight.