Fast Food Review: Top 10 New Items of 2013

As the days of 2013 tick away, we not only begin to dream about what the New Year has in store for us, we take the time to look back at what we have accomplished in the past 12 months. Instead of boring you with a trip down my personal memory lane I have decided to focus on the innovations in the fast food industry, and I have compiled a Top 10 list for new fast food items in 2013! Not an easy task, but after much deliberation I have come up with the following list:

10. Taco Bell Triple Steak Stack

Steak is good…double steak is great…and triple steak is essentially a gift from the gods! The Triple Steak Stack is a nine-inch flatbread filled with “tender-grilled juicy steak” and covered in a three-cheese blend. A pretty basic ingredient list, but sometimes you need to let the steak speak for itself.

9. Popeye’s Deep-Fried Waffle-Battered Chicken Tenders

Chicken and waffles is a Southern favorite. Being from the Northeast I can’t claim to be an expert in this area, but I do think that Popeye’s did a very good job of creating a variation of this famous classic. The moist chicken strips were coated in a waffle-style batter that was sweeter than but not as crunchy as Popeye’s traditional batter. Dipping the strips into the Honey Maple dipping sauce helped finish the flavor profile that closely matched a full chicken and waffle meal.

8. Burger King Veggie Burger

I never thought I would live long enough to give a compliment to a veggie burger, but that day has arrived. Burger King used a MorningStar Farms® Garden Veggie Patty to create a meat-free burger alternative that passes the test. Topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, ketchup and mayo, this burger is served on a toasted sesame seed bun. I originally ordered this item as a joke, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This veggie burger is the underdog story of the Top 10.

7. Sonic Island Fire Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Sonic has always made a great crispy chicken sandwich. The heart of the sandwich is their 100% all white meat chicken that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, but the star of the show is the sweet and spicy habanero sauce. I would prefer a little more heat, but the flavor helps bring their sandwich to the next level. Add in the toasted ciabatta bun and you can see how Sonic has claimed a spot on this list.

6. Burger King BBQ Rib Sandwich

This was Burger King’s attempt at a mini McRib. They did one thing very well with this sandwich…they sold it for $1! This sandwich had a rib patty, onions, pickles, and BBQ sauce. Another big difference from the McRib was the lighter use of sauce. Instead of covering the entire patty Burger King put the sauce right on the bun, making for a much cleaner sandwich. I still prefer the McRib, but BK did a great job of getting in the rib sandwich game.

5. Burger King Big King

The Big King is another example of Burger King copying their big brother, McDonald’s. It is also another example of them doing it successfully. The Big King has all the ingredients we have grown to know and love with the Big Mac, but we get to add the fire grilled patties that Burger King is famous for. That makes all the difference, and gives us a sandwich that may even outmatch its more famous predecessor.

4. Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Doughnut Breakfast Sandwich

I’ve had my fair share of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. I’ve also had more than my fair share of doughnuts. Dunkin’ Donuts did me a favor this year by putting the two together. The glazed doughnut and the strips of bacon create the classic sweet/salty flavor profile that always works so well. Not a very filling breakfast, but there is nothing stopping you from eating two either!

3. McDonald’s Mighty Wings

McDonald’s breaded and sauce-free answer to the traditional buffalo wing, Mighty Wings were a delicious new creation and addition to a familiar menu. The breading is made with a cayenne and chili powder blend, which allows the wings to have heat without the mess of buffalo wing sauce. Almost every major fast food restaurant carries chicken nuggets, but the wings set McDonald’s apart from its biggest competitors (Wendy’s & Burger King), which is never a bad thing.

2. Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger

One of the biggest fast food hits of Summer 2013 was the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy’s. Plenty of chains introduced their own interpretation of a pretzel bun, but none were met with a reception greater than the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. A quarter-pound burger patty, applewood smoked bacon, melted cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions sat atop the unsalted pretzel bun. Setting the bun aside, the star of the show was the sweet & smoky honey mustard sauce that Wendy’s used. There was a great smokiness to the sauce, and the sweetness kept the burger from being overpowered. The Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger was discontinued by Wendy’s towards the end of 2013, but I have my fingers crossed for a McRib-style resurrection in 2014.

1. Taco Bell Fiery & Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos

The title of Top New Fast Food Item of 2013 has been captured by the two-headed monster from Taco Bell…the Fiery and Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos! Taco Bell and Doritos originally teamed up in March 2012 with the Nacho Cheese DLT, and they followed that campaign up with two more flavors in 2013. In March 2013 Taco Bell introduced the Cool Ranch DLT, whose ranch flavoring was the perfect sidekick to the original Nacho Cheese taste. Not satisfied with selling over 500 million shells, Taco Bell introduced the Fiery DLT in August. Based off the Flamas chip, the Fiery DLT is a hot pepper and chili spiced shell with a hint of lime. I personally prefer the Fiery over the Cool Ranch, but the beauty of the Doritos Locos Tacos is that you can always get all three!

There it is folks, 12 months of delicious creations (and recreations)! I have no doubt that some people have equally strong opinions, so don’t hesitate to post your thoughts in the comment section below.