Breakfast at McDonald’s Has Always Been Special

I took my family on vacation this past week, and on the drive out of town the first morning, my mind started wandering while I was driving. The sun was up in the blue sky on a warm summer day, and I was headed down the highway. So my mind wandered back to many of the trips I took as a kid with my dad.

I’ve probably explained before but my dad traveled a lot when I was young, and in the summer, I would go on trips with him if he was only going to be gone for a couple of days. There was nothing quite like climbing into the front seat of his truck and pulling out on a sunny summer morning and hitting the road for the day.

It was the trips where we headed north that I really enjoyed, and that’s because we’d always stop at McDonald’s for breakfast. Now back in the mid to late 80s, the closest McDonald’s was 40 miles up the highway. While we had a McDonald’s just 12 miles south of us, we never stopped at it when we’d go south. But when going north we’d always stop. Can you imagine in today’s world not having a McDonald’s closer than 40 miles away?

The ad above represents the breakfast I remember from those days. Back then, they didn’t have biscuits on the menu yet, only the English muffins. I remember getting the Big Breakfast and enjoying the toasted English muffin with grape jelly. And I remember sitting there with my dad talking about the things we’d see along the route of the trip and feeling a lot bigger than I was. After breakfast was over I’d grab an extra coffee stirrer to play with in the truck, and we’d climb back in, push the Willie Nelson tape into the 8-track player, and hit the road again, with smiles on our faces.

Breakfast at McDonald’s always feels special to me. Even if I’m just hitting the drive-thru on my way to work in the mornings, there’s still a little magic in it thanks to those special stops years ago. And those are the memories that came back to me as we were rolling down the highway on vacation last week.

I’ll give you one guess as to where we stopped for breakfast.

Taco Bell’s Texas Taco Sandwich of 1995

The Texas Taco Sandwich hit the market in 1995 with a fun commercial starring Jack Palance. Palance was coming off a resurgence thanks to the movies City Slickers and City Slickers II, so he lent credibility to Taco Bell’s latest offering with a Texas flair. I was driving by the time this came out, so as soon as I saw the first commercials, I was making my run for the border to try one.

It featured Taco Bell’s traditional taco profile of seasoned ground beef or chicken, lettuce, and cheese, but also added diced tomatoes and a “special southwest sauce”. Some folks say they remember, and others theorize, that the southwest sauce on this was the same sauce used on the Bacon Cheeseburger Burrito that was also released in 1995 as part of another promotion. The real focal point of the Texas Taco Sandwich though was the shell. It was advertised as “Texas flatbread”, which was unique for the time since it was thicker than a tortilla shell. I personally can’t confirm this, but I believe it was an early version of the Gordita shell they would debut in 1998.

The Texas Taco Sandwich was a unique item that captured my attention, as well as my taste buds while it was on the menu. I do seem to remember it being larger than the later Gordita, but it probably had to be since it was marketed as being associated with Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas I hear.

Hardee’s Fried Chicken of the 90s

Hardees Fried Chicken

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. The chain had purchased the Roy Rogers chain and started using their recipe to sell fried chicken in a good deal of their locations. Not having a Roy Rogers anywhere close to here, we were totally unfamiliar with their brand of chicken.

Coupon for Hardee’s Fried Chicken Family Meal, Johnson City Press 1995

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 weekends at the lake, busy evenings after school, and Sunday afternoons eating Hardee’s fried chicken and biscuits while watching my NASCAR with my old man.

McDonald’s Patty McMelt of 1995

McDonalds Patty McMelt

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 Mcdonald’s. 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 fits. 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 below 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 its 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.

Christmas Glasses From Arbys

In another Christmas-themed edition of Retro Ramblings, I want to talk about a product that has always screamed “Christmas” to me. It’s something my mom was very fond of, so I’ve gained an appreciation for it as I’ve gotten older as well. Let’s take a quick look at when Arby’s used to offer special sets of glasses around the holidays.


Back through the ’80s and early ’90s, Arby’s used to roll out sets of glasses for the Christmas season that you could purchase. There were various sets they released including goblets, tumblers, and just regular old glasses.

Some were adorned with red and green, and others featured etched artwork. The ones I’m interested in are featured in the photo at the top.

I wish I had more details on these but I don’t. That’s partly why I’m doing this post. I’m hoping one of you out there can shed some light on them for me, or at least have your own memories of them that you can share with me.

What I remember is that these were released either at the very end of the ’80s or possibly in 1990 or 1991. My Mom saw them and instantly knew she had to have them. She thought they were “fancy” for whatever reason, and the rest of us never had the heart to remind her they were from a fast food joint. We ended up getting four of them for our family, and she would trot them out every Christmas season to drink punch from. The rest of the year they stayed on proud display on the top of her china cabinet in the kitchen.

These glasses with their winter wonderland scene etched on them are one of the images in my mind that I associate with my Christmas nostalgia. I’m enamored with these damn things and want to get a set of them for my own Christmases going forward. I see these exact glasses for sale on Etsy at different points, but I’ve never ordered them. I’m going to, but I just haven’t gotten around to pulling the trigger yet.

They are quite lovely. The etched scene of snow-covered trees with snow on the ground around them, and the little etched snowflakes falling all around. And then they added a touch of class by rimming them in gold. It all comes together to make a very festive type of wine glass for the holidays. As I mentioned, these came in different shapes throughout the years, but these were the only ones my family had.

But anyway, if any of you out there can fill in the gaps in my memory of what year they were released or any other details about them, I’d appreciate it. Or Alternatively, if your family had them and you want to share memories, drop them in the comments below!