The beauty of fast food, if there is such a thing, is in its unfailing consistency: No matter where you are, you can stroll into a Burger King or a Taco Bell or a Jack in the Box, place an order without even bothering to glance up at the menu board, and know that the burger/nuggets/Mexican pizza will taste just the same as it always has. Sometimes chains throw a curveball, though, catering to local tastes with regional or super-limited menu items.
McDonald’s is particularly guilty of this, serving seasonal seafood sandwiches in New England (to questionable result), unusual variations on the standard apple pie in Hawaii, a traditional breakfast favorite in the South, and a lesser-known milkshake flavor that has nothing to do with shamrocks. Whether you’re planning an ill-advised fast food rarity road trip across the country or just want to find out what drive-thru junkies in Hawaii are eating, here are 10 hard-to-find menu items from America’s most ubiquitous chains.
McDonald’s Arctic Orange Shake
McDonald's Arctic Orange Shake is back for a limited time! Get a small for just $2! pic.twitter.com/jYukdUxqR4— McDonald's of PGH (@McD_GreaterPgh) May 13, 2016
The tastiest Golden Arches dessert you’ve probably never heard of, it’s basically a Creamsicle in milkshake form. Considerably rarer than its springtime brethren, the minty Shamrock Shake, this concoction pops up at various locations in the summer; the most recent confirmed sighting was in Pittsburgh in May.
Whataburger Green Chile Burger
This beloved chain only has around 700 locations across the southern U.S., meaning much of the country will never know the delight that is a Whataburger. Even fewer will experience this spicy creation, which is topped with American and Monterey Jack cheeses and one of New Mexico’s most prized foodstuffs, green chiles; it’s only available in New Mexico, Arizona, and West Texas.
Ronald McDonald struck fear in the hearts of seafood lovers everywhere when he unleashed a lobster roll upon New England. This seasonal creation, purported to be "100 percent North Atlantic lobster and mayonnaise" on a bed of lettuce and a toasted bun, returns each summer for a limited time. It is, as one might expect for $7.99, not very good.
Chick-fil-A’s Hot Brown
Chick Fil a hot brown in Atlanta , Ga pic.twitter.com/SNlSNlGgDB— Sherri Brauss (@BraussSherri) June 1, 2014
At two Chick-fil-A locations in Georgia — the Truett Grill in McDonough and the Dwarf House in Hapeville — an expanded menu is available with everything from burgers to fried okra. The most intriguing of these is the Hot Brown: white meat chicken slathered with mashed potatoes, gravy, cheese, and bacon and flanked by toast points. (And you thought nuggets with Polynesian sauce were the pinnacle of Chick-fil-A’s offerings.)
Jack in the Box’s Spam Breakfast Platter
The strange canned meat product known as Spam is popular as ever in Hawaii, where a number of fast food chains have added it to their menus. At Jack in the Box, the breakfast menu features a platter with Spam, rice, and scrambled eggs; it can also be had with another local favorite, Portuguese sausage. (JITB Hawaii has also previously served Spam breakfast croissants, a Spam teriyaki burger, and macadamia nut milkshakes.)
Subway’s Malibu Garden Patty
Less than 500 Subway locations in the U.S. serve this vegan option, a patty made of brown rice, oats, and vegetables that’s topped with "fire roasted" tomato sauce. That sounds like a lot until you consider that there’s more than 25,000 Subways in America — meaning you’ve got about a 1-in-50 chance of finding this meatless sandwich.
McDonald’s Biscuits and Gravy
All-day breakfast means every American can now pursue their god-given right to eat an Egg McMuffin at 4 a.m., but only certain stores in the Midwestern and Southern regions of the U.S. serve up biscuits slathered in sausage gravy.
Taco Bell Twisted Freezes
Everyone knows Taco Bell tastes better under the influence of alcohol, and yet, America’s favorite pseudo-Mexican fast food chain doesn’t serve booze. Until the nation’s first Taco Bell Cantina opened last fall in Chicago’s Wicker Park, that is. There, patrons can spike their Cantina Punch, Cantina Margarita, or Mountain Dew Baja Blast slushes with their choice of vodka, tequila, or rum to create a Twisted Freeze. (Another Taco Bell Cantina will soon land on the Vegas Strip, which seems all too appropriate.)
McDonald’s Haupia Pie
This odd-looking McDonald’s dessert can only be found in Hawaii; rather than the traditional apple filling, this crispy pie contains a coconut milk-based filling known as haupia (think coconut pudding thickened with gelatin). Much like the mystical McRib, it returns periodically for a limited time; fast food fans in Hawaii can also sometimes get taro pie, which contains a starchy, purple filling.
Popeyes Onion Rings
This Louisiana-based chain has a cult following for its spicy fried chicken and red beans and rice, but many Popeyes fans were probably blissfully unaware that that it serves onion rings. The deep-fried rings are only available in certain areas, as plenty of pissed-off internet users have discovered.