10 Forgotten Fast Food Items from the 1970s That Will Blow Your Mind

Do you ever wonder what fast food was like decades ago? The ’70s were a time when some interesting and unique fast food items were born and then disappeared quietly.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and rediscover the long-lost fast food treasures from the 1970s. You’ll be surprised at how much the menus have changed and might even find yourself wishing for a taste of the past.

1) McDonald’s Onion Nuggets

McDonald’s Onion Nuggets appeared in the 1970s.

They were introduced by a chef named Rene Arend.

Unlike regular onion rings, these were chunks of onion that were breaded and deep-fried.

You could dip them in various sauces, much like today’s Chicken McNuggets.

The idea was to offer a fun and easy-to-eat snack.

Unfortunately, they didn’t become very popular and were eventually discontinued.

McDonald’s stopped making them in the late 1970s to focus on chicken items instead.

If you ever wondered what might have inspired Chicken McNuggets, Onion Nuggets played a part in that journey.

2) Burger Chef’s Super Shef

Burger Chef was a big player in the fast-food scene from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Among its menu items, the Super Shef stood out.

You might remember the Super Shef for its simplicity and taste.

It was a huge burger with a quarter-pound beef patty, topped with lettuce, pickles, onions, and a special sauce.

The Super Shef was introduced as a competitor to other big burgers of the time.

It made an impression due to its generous size and the quality of its ingredients.

Burger Chef’s popularity grew fast, and so did the fame of the Super Shef.

At its peak, Burger Chef had over 1,000 locations across the United States.

These were the glory days for the Super Shef.

In the early 1980s, Burger Chef was sold to Hardee’s. Many Burger Chef locations either converted to Hardee’s or shut down, leading to the disappearance of the Super Shef.

If you were a fan of the Super Shef, it’s likely you miss its unique taste.

For many, the Super Shef remains a cherished memory from a different era of fast food.

3) Hardee’s Huskee Junior

Hardee’s Huskee Junior was a popular choice back in the 1970s.

This burger was a smaller version of the larger Huskee burger.

The Huskee Junior featured a beef patty topped with shredded lettuce and a special sauce that gave it a unique flavor.

Many people remember it as being both tasty and affordable.

Priced lower than the bigger Huskee burger, it was perfect for anyone wanting a quick meal without spending too much.

If you were a kid in the ’70s, you probably remember enjoying one of these at your local Hardee’s.

4) Wendy’s Seafood Salad

If you loved seafood, Wendy’s had something special for you in the 1970s: the Seafood Salad.

Wendy’s Seafood Salad was a blend of shrimp, crab, and various vegetables.

It was tossed with a creamy dressing that made it a unique fast-food option.

This salad was quite different from the usual burgers and fries.

It offered a lighter, fresher choice for customers seeking something out of the ordinary at a fast-food restaurant.

For a time, Wendy’s Seafood Salad found its niche among those craving something new.

Fast food often means heavy meals, but this option gave you a taste of the sea.

Though it didn’t last on the menu, the Seafood Salad remains a nostalgic item for many who tried it back in the day.

5) Arby’s Roast Ham Sandwich

Arby’s is famous for its roast beef, but in the 1970s, they also had a Roast Ham Sandwich on the menu.

You might not remember it, but it was a hit for those who loved ham.

This sandwich featured sliced ham piled high on a toasted bun.

It was simple but flavorful.

The ham was often paired with cheese and a dollop of Arby’s sauce.

Sadly, the Roast Ham Sandwich vanished from the menu.

Arby’s shifted focus to their other meats and the ham option quietly disappeared.

For many, it’s a nostalgic memory from a time when fast food menus were more diverse.

6) Taco Bell’s Bell Beefer

You might remember Taco Bell for its tacos and burritos, but in the 1970s, the Bell Beefer was a big deal.

Imagine a sloppy Joe, but the Taco Bell way.

It was basically seasoned ground beef on a hamburger bun with diced onions, shredded lettuce, and a dollop of mild sauce.

This sandwich was Taco Bell’s attempt to offer a burger-like option.

While it wasn’t quite like the other fast-food burgers, it had its own charm.

If you enjoyed Taco Bell’s unique flavors but wanted something other than a taco, this was the go-to item.

The Bell Beefer was surprisingly filling and had a good mix of textures.

You had the crunch from the lettuce and onions paired with the juicy meat.

It didn’t have a long run, but those who tried it often have fond memories.

If you never got to try one, you might be wondering why Taco Bell doesn’t bring it back.

7) Gino’s Giant

Gino’s Giant was a popular fast-food item from Gino’s Hamburgers.

If you were around in the ’70s, you might remember it as a big, tasty sandwich.

It was their answer to McDonald’s Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper.

The Gino Giant was notable for its large size.

It featured two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, and cheese, all sandwiched between a sesame seed bun.

This made it a hearty meal for anyone who tried it.

In the early 1970s, Gino’s even played around with different sandwiches.

For a time, they replaced the Giant with the Gino Hero.

However, the Hero didn’t catch on, and the Giant returned to the menu.

People who worked at Gino’s or were fans of the chain often have fond memories of the Giant.

They especially remember its unique taste and how it stood out from other fast-food burgers of the time.

If you get nostalgic about fast-food history, the Gino’s Giant is definitely a sandwich worth remembering.

8) Schroeder’s Cheeseburger Pizza

In the 1970s, Schroeder’s introduced a unique fast food item: the Cheeseburger Pizza.

It combined two popular foods of the 70s: burgers and pizza.

This dish had a pizza crust topped with all the classic cheeseburger fixings.

You’d find ground beef, melted cheese, pickles, and a drizzle of ketchup and mustard.

Many people loved the Cheeseburger Pizza for its bold flavor and creative twist.

It was a hit at parties and casual get-togethers.

Yet, over time, it slowly disappeared from menus.

Today, you might struggle to find any place serving it.

It remains a nostalgic memory for many who grew up in that era.

9) Jack in the Box’s Frings

In 1979, Jack in the Box introduced a unique menu item called Frings.

This creative combo featured both onion rings and french fries served together in the same bag or carton.

It was an ideal option for those who couldn’t decide between the two fried favorites.

Though Frings sounded like a fun idea, they didn’t last long.

They were discontinued in the early 1980s.

Jack in the Box themselves said Frings had “gone the way of mood rings and shag carpeting.”

While Frings are no longer on the menu, they still have some cult appeal.

Some fans remember them fondly and wish for a comeback.

If you ever find yourself thinking about the quirky fast food items of the past, Frings are a perfect example.

10) Burger King’s Yumbo

Burger King’s Yumbo was a hot ham and cheese sandwich.

It was introduced in 1969 and disappeared from the menu in 1974.

If you were around back then, you might remember its simple yet satisfying combination of ingredients.

The Yumbo had sliced ham and melted cheese, all tucked into a hoagie bun.

Many people enjoyed the Yumbo for its tasty and straightforward flavor profile.

It wasn’t as fancy or overloaded as some modern sandwiches, but that was part of its charm.

Sometimes, simpler is better, and the Yumbo was a great example of that.

Cultural Impact of 1970s Fast Food

Fast food in the 1970s left a lasting impact on American culture, influencing advertising and becoming a part of movies, TV shows, and daily life.

Iconic Advertising Campaigns

Fast food chains in the 1970s crafted memorable advertising campaigns that still echo today. McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal during this decade, complete with toys and fun packaging, making it a hit with kids.

Burger King’s famous “Have it Your Way” slogan empowered customers to customize their orders.

This was revolutionary at the time, contrasting the standard one-size-fits-all approach. Taco Bell also launched catchy jingles that made Mexican-style fast food a new favorite.

These campaigns not only boosted sales but also ingrained these brands into the daily lives of many Americans.

Role in Pop Culture

Fast food found a noteworthy place in 1970s pop culture.

Iconic movies and TV shows showcased fast food joints as trendy hangout spots.

In the film American Graffiti, diners and drive-ins were central settings, illustrating the social hub they’d become.

Happy Days, a hit TV show, often featured scenes set in Arnold’s Drive-In, reflecting real-life teenage culture where fast food was an integral part.

Music of the time, from jingles to mentions in songs, also promoted the fast food lifestyle.

Your favorite fast food stops weren’t just about eating; they became part of the American identity and social fabric.

Evolution of Fast Food Menus

Fast food menus have changed a lot since the 1960s, reflecting shifts in ingredient choices and what customers want.

These changes tell an interesting story about our eating habits over the decades.

Changes in Ingredients

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, fast food chains mostly used basic, high-calorie ingredients like fatty meats and processed cheese.

For example, McDonald’s was known for its simple cheeseburgers and fries.

Over time, there was a shift toward using fresher and sometimes healthier ingredients.

By the 1980s, fast food started to include more variety.

Taco Bell, for example, added items like the Taco Salad and Mexican Pizza, using ingredients like lettuce, beans, and tomatoes.

Even McDonald’s experimented with items like the McDLT, where the lettuce and tomato were kept separate to stay fresh.

Shifts in Customer Preferences

In the early days, customers mostly wanted quick, cheap, and filling meals.

A hamburger and fries were the top choices for many.

As people became more health-conscious in the 1980s, fast food menus began to reflect that shift.

Menu items began to cater to new tastes and dietary needs.

Wendy’s introduced the salad bar, while Burger King came out with the chicken sandwich.

Chains also embraced international flavors, adding items like the Teriyaki Burger at Jack in the Box.

These changes show how fast food menus evolved in response to what people wanted to eat, making menus more diverse and often healthier.

Rediscovering Classic Fast Food Trends

Fast food items from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s hold a special place in many hearts.

Some have even made a return in new forms, while others inspire modern creations.

Retro-Inspired Comebacks

Many classic fast food items have made a comeback. McDonald’s brought back the McRib after vanishing for years.

The sandwich originally appeared in the early 1980s, featuring a boneless pork patty with barbecue sauce and onions on a bun.

Burger King’s Yumbo sandwich, a hot ham and cheese served on a hoagie roll, was reintroduced in 2014 after its popularity in the 1970s.

You can also look at Pizza Hut’s P’Zone.

It’s a calzone stuffed with meats and cheeses, making its return occasionally since its debut decades ago.

Modern Interpretations

Old school fast food items often inspire new creations. Taco Bell frequently revisits its past while launching new items.

The crispy tortilla bowls from the ’80s have evolved into Fiesta Taco Salads.

Arby’s took inspiration from the past with its modern take on Loaded Italian Subs, which blends classic sandwich ingredients with their unique twist.

Even items like the Hula Burger from McDonald’s, a pineapple slice sandwich meant for vegetarians, are reimagined today in various forms at specialty fast food joints and food trucks.

Retro flavors and concepts continue to inspire menus today, proving that what’s old can be new again.

Leave a Reply