Looking at the month of November as it got started, I knew I wanted to write about something for the season, but was suffering from a slight case of writer’s block. Maybe it’s just me, but Thanksgiving doesn’t have nearly as much stuff to talk about as Halloween and Christmas do.
But the writer’s block started to clear and I thought about how Thanksgiving is the eating holiday. Armed with that knowledge, I thought about writing about food, and when it comes to food, I never have writer’s block. So what follows is five more old junk foods that I miss, but with a holiday-fitting title of junk foods I’m thankful for. It fits the season better that way you see. I’m not discussing old Thanksgiving dishes, but rather old fast food items that I loved back when, and miss today. And to spread the love since it’s Thanksgiving, I picked five old items from five different fast food joints. If you remember any of these, please chime in with your memories in the comments.
And if reading about old junk food is your thing, I’ve got you covered. You can click on this handy JUNK FOOD link and see all the posts I’ve done talking about the great lost loves of my life. There’s a lot there to reminisce about in the archives, and you just might starve to death while checking it all out.
Hardee’s Fried Chicken (1992)
Like most other American households in the 1980s, when my family wanted fried chicken, we got it from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Not KFC, but Kentucky Fried Chicken. We weren’t all metro back in those days using just the initials to identify the fast food chain. Other than the price, not much has changed from then to now. You can still get an 8-piece bucket of chicken, along with two family sides, and four biscuits. It’s an American staple at this point.
But then in the early ’90s comes Hardees with their fried chicken offerings. My family was a little skeptical in the beginning for a couple of reasons. One was the fact that here is this burger chain selling fried chicken all of a sudden. It was as foreign of a concept as Kentucky Fried Chicken starting to sell Big Macs would have been. And two, how is anyone going to compete with the Colonel’s secret blend of herbs and spices? Well, the answer to that part is they couldn’t, but Hardee’s could certainly compete with the Colonel’s extra crispy recipe. The chicken at Hardee’s was of the extra crispy variety, which I loved, but the bigger draw was the biscuits.
The biscuits at Hardee’s have always been at the top of the fast food biscuit world, and because they were now selling fried chicken, you could get their signature biscuits at any time during the day. It was almost like a little slice of heaven had fallen to earth. But the chicken and biscuits combo proved to be a good one, and for a while there, my family switched to Hardees when the craving for fried chicken hit, and we didn’t really go away from it until Hardee’s pulled it from their menus around these parts. But I still think back on it and remember fondly all of the Sunday afternoons eating Hardee’s fried chicken and biscuits while watching my NASCAR heroes battle it out on tracks around the country.
Speaking of Hardee’s and NASCAR, check out the feature I did about Cool Kid’s Meal Toys where I dive into the Days of Thunder promotion at Hardees as well as the Ghostbusters II promotion and several other cool old toys. And outside of the toys, maybe my favorite thing ever to come from Hardee’s was the New York Patty Melt that came out in 1993. You can read about that one here.
Wendy’s Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich (1991)
Oh hey, another chicken item. But this one isn’t of the classic fried chicken variety, but a chicken sandwich. Ol’ Dave Thomas portrayed himself as quite the home chef in all of his commercials. Whether he was the actual brains behind all of those great Wendy’s offerings or not doesn’t really matter to me. All that matters is that more times than not, I was a fan of their new creations.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich you got when you ordered one looked pretty much just like the one Dave has in the commercial. Being a ham lover, I was eager to try this one after first seeing the commercial. The first time I got it, I didn’t care for it because of the Grey Poupon that was slathered on it. The next time I got one, I ordered it without that fancy stuff, and straight-up loved it. Of all their special creations, the Chicken Cordon Bleu is probably second only to the Monteray Ranch Chicken sandwich that was on and off the menu around the same time.
For all of you Wendy’s fans out there, you can check out my post, The Things I Miss About Wendy’s for quite a bit of Wendy’s nostalgia.
Burger King Burger Bundles (1987)
It’s not been too long ago that I dove into A Few Long Gone Favorites From Burger King where I ran down some of the top menu items I loved from there. There are several that I left off of that list, and Burger Bundles is one of them. I wasn’t too worried though as I knew I would get back around to talking more old fast food at some point and could preach on them then.
The Burger Bundles were the perfect size meal for younger folks like me back then. I was nine years old when the above commercial came out, and at that time, I was staying with my cousin Tim a lot after school because my mom had gotten a part-time job in the evenings. When I was staying with Tim, his mom would sometimes pick us up fast food for dinner, and it seems like Burger King was a favorite destination of hers because we got it frequently. And during this time period, Burger Bundles were the go-to item when she was ordering for us.
But Tim and I didn’t care that we didn’t get to pick what we wanted. Hell, more times than not we would have picked these things ourselves. They were just the perfect size too…especially when you wanted to eat with one hand and play Nintendo with the other. They were just like their larger cheeseburger cousins, but just smaller. They still had cheese, ketchup, mustard, and a pickle on them. Given the choice today, I’d probably still order them on a regular basis.
Kentucky Fried Chicken Rotisserie Gold (1994)
I think the Colonel was taking a shot at Kenny Rogers in that commercial. Whether he was or wasn’t is beside the point, as the Colonel sure did make a fine rotisserie bird. It wasn’t a lie when they said it was deep marinated, as the Rotisserie Gold was absolutely loaded with flavor. It came around about the same time I got my driver’s license, and I didn’t waste much time in getting my hands on this chicken after I first saw it advertised. The best part may have been that my local KFC included the Rotisserie Gold as an option with their buffet. It wasn’t on the bar, but you could request it and they would serve it to you in quarters. There was a time that a few co-workers and I went to lunch there, and when we left, there were 17 empty plates on the table…and all of us were having Rotisserie Gold.
But as good as the Rotisserie Gold was, it’s not my favorite thing that the COlonel has ever served up. That distinction belongs to their Chicken Littles sandwiches of the late ’80s, and you can read about my fascination with them here.
McDonald’s Patty McMelt (1995)
I have a deep nostalgic connection to the McDonald’s Taste of the Month promotion from 1995. Maybe it’s because I was driving and able to go get things for myself, or maybe because I worked across the street from a McDonalds. But whatever the reason, I loved a lot of the special items they rolled out that year as part of the promotion, and this Patty McMelt is near the top of my list of promotional menu items.
I’m still trying to track down info on the releases for each month that year, and I’ve not found suitable info on this one yet. But I do know that it came out early in the year, as in January, February, or March. I know this because I remember it being cold and snowy when I was enjoying them. I’m a sucker for a patty melt, and this version was pretty good. I’m not sure what the slice of Canadian bacon had to do with a patty melt, but they threw a piece on this sandwich, and somehow it fit. Their grilled onions could have been a little more grilled for my tastes, but that minor squabble aside, McDonald’s version of a Patty Melt is worth remembering.
Most people have little or no memory of it existing, and the commercial I featured above is about the only reference I’ve ever been able to find about it online. I’ve made the plea before, but I’m going to make it again…if you know anything about any of the taste of the month promotions from 1995, please get in touch with me. Any info at all, no matter how big or how little the detail would be appreciated. The Arch Deluxe made it’s debut as part of the promotion in my area, and my favorite of the lot, the Super Hero burger, was part of it, but I still have a lot of gaps in my knowledge.
If McDonald’s is your thing like it is mine, I’ve covered plenty of their old menu items, tray lines, magazines, and more through the years, and you can check them all out here.
Well, there’s almost 2000 words about old fast foods that I’m thankful to have gotten to enjoy. It may be a stretch to say that this is a Thanksgiving post, but it’s my blog and I’m calling it a Thanksgiving post. If you want to chime in about any of these, or tell me about one of your favorites, just drop me a line in the comments below and we’ll reminisce together.
Hardee’s had great fried chicken when it first rolled out and then about 5 years later it was awful and this was before the Carl Jr’s buyout. I don’t think I ever heard of the Patty Melt at McDonald’s and if I did I probably wouldn’t have ordered it back then since I am still averse to their fish, chicken and McRib offerings.
I remember Hardee’s fried chicken. I don’t think I ever got it as a regular thing, but sometimes I’d manage a “sample” wing out of them when I was young.
I don’t remember if I ever got to try Wendy’s Chicken Cordon Bleu, but I do remember the commercial for it. But I did try Arby’s version years later, and I think that was my first chicken cordon bleu experience. It was love at first bite.
I loved Burger Bundles when I first got them. My parents, not so much, and so that was the last time I got them, too.
KFC Rotisserie Gold was delightful, and turned me into a fan of rotisserie chickens in general. But while many are good, man, nothing has touched the Colonel’s since then.
I don’t think I got to partake of the Patty McMelt, but the onions might have been a deterrent. Not sure why, though, as I never had a problem ordering anything else there without onions.
Haven’t thought of the Burger Bundles for years, but used to like them. To me, they were like the burger version of the old Kentucky Fried Chicken “Chicken Little” sandwiches. Love and miss those, too. Funny how something simple can leave a lasting memory – and craving!
I miss Hardee’s fried chicken so much!! I loved their Days of Thunder promotion and their Ghostbusters 2 one!