The 10 Most Horrifying Fast Food Gimmicks of All Time

KFC's Double Down is back, and it's in disgusting company.

It was incredible, really, that no one ever thought to do it before: a chicken sandwich in which the bread is replaced with chicken. A “stunt food“? Sure. A “new low“? Almost definitely. It was all those things and more, which is why KFC managed to sell 10 millionin about one month’s time when the Double Down first appeared in 2010.

Now it’s back, according to an “exclusive” from USA Today. Starting April 21, the Double Down is once again appearing for a limited run on KFC’s menus. And it’s in good — or, if you’d prefer, atrocious — company.

Despite the claims they occasionally make about striving for health, we all know fast food companies aren’t really looking for approval. Let’s face it, getting called out for their disgusting innovations is exactly the reaction they’re hoping for when they introduce a gimmick. Then, they’re hoping people try it, usually just “as a dare,” and they know plenty of people are going to like it.

But looked at as a whole, the very worst fast food has to offer is almost too much to handle:

The McRib

McDonald's iconic contribution to fast food gimmickry: a patty of pig parts molded into the shape of ribs and presented in the form of a sandwich. The only mystery more enticing than what, exactly, the McRib is made of is the eternal question of when and where it's going to reappear. This ugly photo of an (alleged) raw McRib may have ruined the magic for some, but for plenty of others, it only confirmed that they were getting a true fast food classic.

Specialty Chicken

KFC may have been the original visionary behind the idea of replacing bread with fried chicken, but Domino's proved that a disgusting idea can always be adapted. Its newest menu item: pizza with a crust made of chicken. Also known as chicken with some sauce and cheese on top, if you insist on being literal.


The Waffle Taco

This spring, Taco Bell made the startling discovery that a waffle, folded in half, kind of looks like a taco shell, thus proving once and for all that anything can be breakfast if you want it enough. The company was gambling on the fact that the creation would catch the fancy of consumers bored with McDonald's' "traditional" offerings -- and based on the latest consumer survey, they definitely seem to be onto something. Balanced breakfasts don't stand a chance.


Doughnut Breakfast Sandwich

Before there was the Waffle Taco, of course, there was the variation on the breakfast sandwich that only a doughnut chain could dream up: fried eggs and bacon nestled between a split glazed doughnut. The Associated Press, after coming to terms with the fact that fast food companies are perhaps not as committed to providing healthier options as they claim, finally went ahead and asked Stan Frankenthaler, the company's executive chef and vice president of product innovation, "whether a customer will also be able to order a sandwich on any type of doughnut, such as a chocolate cake doughnut." His reply: "I'm sure the store will do that for you."

The Doritos Locos Taco

Taco Bell's decision to team up with a popular snack chip to create its most successful menu item of all time was and perhaps will always be its greatest and most terrible accomplishment. It's newest flavor, the Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, premiered last Sunday night over SnapChat (don't ask).


Bacon Milkshake

Does it make you feel better or worse about this 773-calorie shake to know that it's just made with bacon-flavored syrup, and not actual bacon? 

Bacon Sundae

If you decided that your standard for bacon-flavored desserts is that they contain actual bacon, Burger King's got your back: it sprinkled the real deal atop an offering of vanilla soft serve, chocolate fudge and caramel. One reviewer was particularly impressed with how generous the chain is with the pork topping, so that the consumer is guaranteed to get a mouthful of bacon with every last bite.

Drumstick Corsage

Because prom wasn't already awkward enough, some very lucky high schoolers are going to be attending their big night this year with a piece of fried chicken strapped to their wrist. The Christian Science Monitor characterizes the millennial-friendly gimmick as an attempt to lure the coveted 18 to 34-year-old demographic away from places like Chipotle.


Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza

America's safe from this one, for now. "The Hot Dog Stuffed Crust pizza is only available in the UK and there are no plans to introduce this product in the U.S.," a company spokesperson confirmed when news of the menu item first hit the Internet a couple years back. Thank the fast food gods for small miracles.

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email [email protected].

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018