June 4, 2024 | Eul Basa

1980s McDonalds Menu Items They Need to Bring Back


Put a smile on

In the 1980s, McDonald's began evolving in many exciting ways. Not only did it diversify its menu, but it also changed its marketing focus to family-friendly dining with indoor play areas and the Happy Meal with toys. Here are some nostalgic menu items the fast food chain should bring back.

McD. L.T.

In October 1984, McDonald's introduced the Lettuce & Tomato Special in Northeast Ohio and Shreveport, Louisiana. A unique container with two compartments kept the fresh lettuce and tomatoes separate from the quarter-pound patty to maintain their freshness.

Screen Shot 2024-06-04 At 5.08.09 PmFlickr | Jim Ellwanger

Caramel Pecan Roll

In the early '80s, McDonald's introduced the Caramel Pecan Roll as a new dessert alongside their breakfast menu items. The sweet pastry featured a rich topping of caramel and diced pecans. The creation was a collaboration between McDonald's chef René Arend and leader Ray Kroc. The roll was eventually discontinued.

Screen Shot 2024-06-04 At 5.11.05 PmInstagram | consumertc

Quarter Pounder Ranchero

In the 1980s, Houston McDonald's owners Nelly and Dominic Quijano noticed Hispanic customer preferences were not being met. So, they introduced a breakfast burrito in 1985. Named the Quarter Pounder Ranchero, it debuted in 1971 and returned briefly in 2001 as the Ranchero Bagel on McDonald's menu.

Screen Shot 2024-06-04 At 5.13.22 Pmhttps://www.instagram.com/consumertc/p/CzclDTarBhe/

Cheddar Melt

In 1984, McDonald's introduced the Cheddar Melt, their first third-pound burger with cheddar cheese sauce and grilled onions on a rye bun. Despite minimal promotion, customers loved it in Indianapolis and Milwaukee. A subtle Super Bowl advertisement for the burger led to an 18% sales increase for McDonald's, with occasional comebacks in later years.

1717535811470McDonald's Wiki

Chicken L.T.

In the 1980s, McDonald's added a new grilled chicken sandwich called the Chicken L.T. due to high demand for McNuggets. The sandwich had under 300 calories and was tested in select cities. The Chicken L.T. was later discontinued in 1987, but it wasn't the last time McDonald's served chicken with lettuce and tomato.

1717536749462YouTube | Dave's Archives

Lite Mac

Franchise owner Al Bernardin often experimented to create successful menu additions at McDonald's. He introduced the Quarter Pounder but also had failures like the Lite Mac and ground turkey McGobbler. The Lite Mac, with fewer calories and a lighter version of the Big Mac, was tested in 1983 but did not meet customer preferences.

1717536962744Wikimedia Commons

Chicken McNuggets Fiesta

In 1988, McDonald's celebrated their iconic McNuggets by hosting a "Fiesta," offering three fresh sauces. The festival lasted only four weeks, with staff in traditional attire serving McNugget meals in special boxes containing a real Latin American coin and sauces in honor of the fiesta tradition.

1717536662865Instagram | consumertc

Fiesta Colada Shake

McDonald's introduced a Fiesta Colada Shake, a vanilla milkshake with coconut and pineapple flavors, described in a TV commercial as "tasty, unique, and trendy." The shake is no longer on the menu in stores, but piña colada soft serve is still available in Australia.

Multi-mixer along with milkshake mix and syrup pumpsTim Boyle, Getty Images

Chicken McNuggets Shanghai

In August 1986, McDonald's introduced Chicken McNuggets Shanghai. They came in a red and black box with chopsticks, a McFortune cookie, and sauces. Seven bakeries made 40 million McFortune Cookies with advice like "All the world is a performance." The campaign reached Canada and England, and it was even parodied on SNL.

1717536155251YouTube | Dino Drac's Retro Commercials

Holiday Chicken McNuggets

McDonald's embraced the holiday season by offering food and drinks to keep customers cozy or refreshed. Introduced in 1987, Holiday Chicken McNuggets came in a fancy box with unique sauces. They were brought back for two more years with festive dessert options.

1717536592326Twitter | consumertc

Chicken McSwiss

McDonald's tested the Chicken McSwiss sandwich in Tennessee as their version of a cordon bleu sandwich. It featured chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese. It was later discontinued due to lack of popularity.

Crispy McChicken chicken sandwichRamon FVelasquez, CC0, Wikimedia Commons

Hot Jalapeno and Louisiana Style dips

In 1983, McDonald's introduced Chicken McNuggets with only four dipping sauces that are still available today: Sweet & Sour, BBQ, Hot Mustard, and Honey. Later, limited-edition Hot Jalapeño and Louisiana Style sauces were added with spicy-themed ads.

Dispen Pak, Fold-and-Squeeze Sauce PacketDandy1022, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Hot Pocket-Style McPizza

In 1985, McDonald's started selling McPizza in response to customer demand. The original McPizza, shaped more like a hot pocket than a standard pizza, included cheeses, ground beef, pepperoni, onions, and tomato sauce. By 1986, testing had expanded to 60 locations—but eventually, the company decided to focus more on salads.

image of ads for McPizzaDeerbourne, Flickr

McPizza

McDonald's introduced a new version of the McPizza in 1987, resembling a personal pizza. Sold at select locations, each McPizza was made with mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan cheeses, herbs, spices, and tomato sauce. It was generally well-received with strong sales.

McDonald's Pizzadankeck, CC0, Wikimedia Commons

McDonald's Pizza

In 1989, McDonald's tested 14-inch pizzas in Evansville, Indiana, and Owensboro, Kentucky, renaming them McDonald's Pizza. Available for dinner, options included Cheese, Pepperoni, Sausage, and Deluxe toppings. Despite Canada's approval in 1992, they were discontinued in 1996 except for two locations in West Virginia and Ohio until 2017.

McDonald's Pizza, 1990Roadsidepictures, Flickr

The Garden Salad

In response to Wendy's and Burger King, McDonald's added salad bars in 1974. By 1984, they switched to individual salad packaging. One of the five salad offerings included The Garden Salad, which was freshly tossed daily (allegedly) with iceberg lettuce, tomato, celery, cucumber, carrots, radish, egg, and cheddar.

1717536100319YouTube | Play Pause Video

Sundae Split

McDonald's introduced the Sundae Split in 1989. A cheaper dessert option priced at 99 cents, it featured a soft serve mound with toppings like whipped cream, bananas, hot fudge, caramel, and cherries.

1717535925785Twitter | consumertc

McSpaghetti

In the 1980s, McDonald's briefly served fast-casual Italian dishes like McPizza and McSpaghetti that didn't last. The McSpaghetti, in particular, didn't gain popularity outside the 1980s, but it is still offered in the Philippines (and is in fact a staple menu item there).

McDonald's McSpaghetti mealWalter Eric Sy, Shutterstock

McRib

McRib's limited availability is due to its lack of popularity. If it was successful from the start in 1982, it might have been a permanent menu item; but for now, the cult classic's impact on specific customers ensures its random comebacks.

McRib boxjustgrimes, Flickr

Maple McCrisp

McDonald's introduced Maple McCrisp, resembling French toast, with syrup oozing out of a sweet, square nugget on their menu. Unfortunately, the product didn't really kick off, and the company was forced to remove it from the menu due to a lack of consumer interest and consequent poor sales.

man holding delicious juicy fresh burger


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