9 Discontinued KFC Items We Desperately Miss

Since its humble origins as a small dining room off a gas station serving home-cooked chicken dinners, Kentucky Fried Chicken has grown into KFC, a multinational fast food giant, spreading good feelings and filling bellies at thousands of locations all over the world. Its growth is thanks mainly to its original intent — fried chicken (made with founder Colonel Harland Sanders' secret "11 herbs and spices"), biscuits, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, and other classic American family meal offerings served quick, efficiently, and relatively cheaply.

But as KFC has become commonplace and one of the biggest players in the fast food game, it hasn't been content to stay locked in the nostalgic past its menu evokes. KFC has evolved, in order to compete with other chains, both chicken-centric and not, and to respond to consumers' ever-changing tastes. The company routinely introduces new menu items; some of them stick around, some don't, and some make an occasional return. Unfortunately for KFC devotees, some of the restaurant's most delicious and innovative entrees and sides arrived, built up a solid reputation, and then fell off the menu for good. Here are the tastiest long-gone KFC items that we'd welcome back.

1. KFC Snacker

Value menus, as exemplified by McDonald's Dollar Menu and Taco Bell's Dollar Cravings Menu, brought a lot of customers into fast food chains in the 2000s. Whether America is in the midst of a recession or not, value menus offer a way to piece together a meal for a startlingly small amount of money. KFC got in on the action in March 2005, according to QSRWeb, with the introduction of the KFC Snacker. A small sandwich, consisting of an Extra Crispy strip on a sesame seed bun topped with lettuce and mayonnaise and costing just 99 cents, became KFC's most successful new sandwich launch in company history; some stores sold as many as 1,000 a week.

Clearly, the KFC Snacker was immensely and demonstrably popular, but may have been too successful. Profit margins on value menu items can be razor-thin, and in 2012, the KFC Snacker was on the way out, replaced with a similar sandwich that was smaller and thus cheaper to prepare. According to Foodbeast, KFC went with the Chicken Little, a discontinued '80s menu introduction. The revamped Little consisted of a palm-sized dinner roll holding a chicken strip, some mayo, and pickle slices. It's almost the KFC Snacker — but not quite.

2. Little Bucket Parfaits

As of 2021, KFC's dessert offerings rank among the usual ho-hum fast food sweet treats: a chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies. Up until the early 2010s, according to Brand Eating, KFC offered a signature and unique line of desserts known as Little Bucket Parfaits. A prepackaged and sealed item, the Little Bucket came in a small plastic cup and consisted of a crushed graham cracker pie crust, a layer of chocolate creme (pudding), then some whipped cream, and chocolate sprinkles. Also available sometimes in strawberry, lemon, and fudge brownie varieties (per Reddit), it was essentially a slice of chocolate cream pie, but deconstructed and built up again in a "bucket," to go along with KFC's similarly packaged chicken.

KFC discontinued this relatively complex dessert (which required a refrigeration and display unit) in the mid-2010s. The internet is awash in layers of recipe re-creations and petitions that KFC reinstates the menu item, but it's been almost a decade since the fast food chain seemingly permanently kicked the Little Bucket.

3. Beyond Fried Chicken

In the early 2020s, several companies have emerged offering brand-new, proprietary processes for creating plant-based meat substitutes that offer taste and texture similar to the real thing, far surpassing the beef-imitative abilities of old-fashioned soy or veggie burgers. Beyond Meat is an industry leader, selling faux beef patties, faux sausage crumbles, and, in a partnership with KFC, imitation fried chicken made entirely from plants and other non-animal sources.

According to CNBC, KFC had a successful test run of Beyond Fried Chicken in 2019, prompting a wider rollout in the South in 2020. The first plant-based fast food chicken at a major restaurant chain, Beyond Fried Chicken reportedly nailed not only the taste of KFC's familiar and beloved chicken (in the form of boneless nuggets and strips) but the texture, as well, imitating the naturally firm feel of fowl. When Beyond Fried Chicken was first offered in Atlanta, the restaurant sold out its supply in just five hours. Despite the popularity and the forward movement of the plant-based meat industry, KFC never did launch Beyond Fried Chicken nationwide, but the supplier may start selling its fried chicken directly to customers sometime in the near future, according to The Beet.

4. Pickle Fried Chicken

To drum up interest and get people in the doors or in the drive-through line as soon as possible, fast food restaurants will introduce innovative menu items, breathlessly marketed as being available "for a limited time only." Almost like a well-funded national or international test marketing endeavor, the chain will bring an item back now and then if it sells particularly well — it's a business model that's worked for McDonald's McRib and KFC's all-meat no-bread Double Down sandwich. This gives hardcore, devoted fans of a limited-edition menu item hope that the object of their culinary obsession will one day return to delight them once again, but fans of KFC's Pickle Fried Chicken haven't been so lucky.

During a mini-fad of fast food and convenience food items flavored with pickle juice (including soda and a Sonic slush, per "Today"), KFC unveiled its Pickle Fried Chicken in the summer of 2018. Considering that many fast food joints complement their fried chicken sandwiches with pickle slices, including Chick-Fil-A, it's not all that weird to soak the meat in the sour, tangy, dilly stuff. According to "Today," KFC took its Extra Crispy Chicken and saturated it with a pickle sauce made from buttermilk along with typical pickle elements like dill, vinegar, onion, and garlic. For a very short period of time, and never again, as of 2021, KFC customers could get their pickle-soaked, pickle slice-topped chicken in the form of bone-in pieces, tenders, or on a sandwich.

5. Kentucky Roast Beef

By the mid-1960s, Kentucky Fried Chicken was one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains, if not businesses, in America. The idea of an old-fashioned Sunday dinner any night of the week for not a lot of money was an irresistibly nostalgic proposition for millions, charmed as they were by company founder and pitchman Harland Sanders, a.k.a. the Colonel. In 1964, according to Retroist, Sanders sold the company to an investor group led by John Y. Brown Jr. and Jack C. Massey, who took the company public and rapidly expanded the chain from 600 to 1,700 locations in half a decade. Facing competition from upstarts like Chick-Fil-A and Church's, KFC decided to diversify, and in 1968 it began offering roast beef sandwiches, both at pre-existing stores and at standalone Kentucky Roast Beef outposts.

KFC, however, couldn't get enough chicken die-hards to switch to its carefully prepared, slow-cooked, thinly-sliced sandwiches made from quality meat, price was an issue. At most Kentucky Fried Chickens in 1968, a Jr. Chicken Dinner, consisting of two pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a biscuit, cost 85 cents. An a la carte roast beef sandwich would set a customer back 79 cents — not a great value, relatively speaking. A few franchised outlets sold the sandwiches into the '70s, but KFC's tasty roast beef has been gone for four decades now.

6. Kentucky Nuggets

In the mid-1980s, the first boneless, bite-size pieces of fried chicken hit the fast food landscape and changed it for good. But it wasn't Kentucky Fried Chicken, the most famous and popular purveyor of quick-serve bone-in fried chicken who introduced nuggets to the masses — it was McDonald's, launching the Chicken McNugget in 1983. The launch was so successful, according to Time, that McDonald's almost instantly became the #2 chicken seller globally ... behind KFC.

The stalwart fried chicken giant wasn't about to let McDonald's come for its crown, so KFC responded with Kentucky Nuggets. The company made no bones about its intent, calling out McDonald's by name in a national commercial. "Everyone who loves chicken nuggets is going to love this news ... hmm, except McDonald's," an actor dressed as a KFC employee said into the camera, adding that unlike McNuggets, Kentucky Nuggets were made with those familiar "11 herbs and spices" by "the chicken experts." The ad also mentions that Kentucky Nuggets beat Chicken McNuggets in a taste test.

KFC might have been too late to the tiny chicken game. They couldn't kill the giant, but kept Kentucky Nuggets on its menu until the mid-90s, disappointing die-hards when they stopped making them for good, according to the KFC Wiki.

7. Potato Wedges

KFC has always been almost as much about the sides as it is about the chicken. From the beginning, customers could choose what starch and vegetables they wanted to make their meal, with mashed potatoes and gravy and coleslaw the most popular and enduring choices.

According to BroBible, KFC added another option in the early 1990s: potato wedges. Like the universal fast food favorite the French fry, KFC's wedges were comprised of cut and fried potatoes. Unlike the usual fry, those wedges were thick cut, retained the potato's skin, and were seasoned with a rich and flavorful blend of spices that made the crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside texture all the more undeniable. They were very similar to the wedges, often called "jo-jo's," sold at gas stations and convenience stores, but KFC's were simply a cut above, and they made a great side for KFC's many prearranged on-the-go combo meals.

KFC customers likely took the wedges for granted, thinking such a standard item would always be available. But in 2020, according to Business Insider, KFC abandoned wedges in favor of Secret Recipe Fries. Cut in the shoestring style used by competitors like McDonald's, Secret Recipe Fries were flavored with a spice blend purported to be the famous KFC "11 herbs and spices" used on the chicken (per Thrillist). Are they objectively tasty? Sure, but that's not going to convince customers on Team Wedges. "They need to take that off the menu," one fan tweeted. "Wedges was legendary for KFC."

8. Kentucky Grilled Chicken

In the early 1990s, Kentucky Fried Chicken officially changed its name to KFC, according to Snopes, to avoid paying to use the recently trademarked state name of Kentucky. It also helped bury the word "fried," a dirty word for the growing legions of health-conscious eaters in America and beyond. In 2009, according to Brand Eating, KFC took an unlikely step away from its overwhelmingly definitive and signature menu item, breaded and oil-fried chicken, with the debut of Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Because it didn't come coated in fat-absorbing flour, the product had far less calories, fat, and salt, than KFC's Original Recipe chicken. It was, however, flavored with a blend inspired by KFC's famed "11 herbs and spices" and oven-roasted instead of cooked in oil.

Kentucky Grilled Chicken was a relatively rare healthy option at a major fast food chain, high in protein, low in fat, and suitable for any number of high-protein diets popular in the 2000s and 2010s. And while it certainly had its acolytes, it didn't move well enough for KFC to justify keeping it around. According to a former KFC employee on Reddit, it sold in low quantities and couldn't sit around unsold for as long as the fried stuff, making for a significant amount of costly food waste. After about a two-year life, Kentucky Grilled Chicken was gone.

9. Original Recipe Boneless

If chicken nuggets are perceived as children's food, then chicken strips and chicken tenders are basically the same food, just rebranded and marketed toward adults. In 2013, KFC stepped up in the world of chicken meat that has been separated from its naturally occurring bones and then cut into easily manageable portions, breaded and fried, with its Original Recipe Boneless chicken. Sold in a bucket like unadulterated fried chicken, it was made with the signature KFC blend of "11 herbs and spices." Thus, it looked almost like and tasted exactly like KFC's Original Recipe chicken — just without those pesky choking hazards inside. KFC launched the product with a bizarre ad campaign featuring people who could not tell the difference between bone-in chicken and boneless chicken strips, who then panicked convinced that they'd actually eaten an entire piece of old-fashioned poultry, bones and all. "I ate the bones!" they'd horrifically shout.

Still, that KFC flavor and texture but in a more convenient delivery method should have been a slam dunk, a product that would last forever. But after about a year on the menu, KFC pulled Original Recipe Boneless, according to Delish, replacing them with a new strip more akin to the chain's crunchy (but forever less popular) Extra Crispy style.