Fast food restaurants spend a great deal of time and effort attempting to make sure that their menu offers guests a variety of food products that satisfy hunger while differentiating the franchise brand from competitors.
McDonalds, for example, can simply slap a 'Mc' in front of everything they serve to communicate that a particular food item lives up to their standards. Other franchises have to work harder to differentiate their items from other popular restaurants, developing flavors and images that stand out in a crowded market.
Another benefit of a standardized menu involves the customer. When every location of a franchise restaurant offers the same item, guests know what to expect when they walk in the doors, adding a sense of comfort. If you want a Taco Supreme, Whopper, Big Mac or a Double Down sandwich, you know exactly where to go to get one and how that item will taste, regardless of your geographic location.
What makes secret menus at fast food restaurants exciting is the ability to enjoy the same food you love in a different way. Sometimes, secret menus simply blend two foods together in a delicious manner. Other times, secret menus consist of popular, limited-time menu items that disappear and have to be specifically requested by name.
10 Chipotle's Quesarito
Chipotle rose to become a player in the fast food industry as a place to go when Taco Bell just doesn't cut it. They serve a variety of burritos, nacho bowls, rice bowls, quesadillas and a variety of other food inspired by Mexican cuisine.
One of the crowning achievements of Chipotle's secret menu is the quesarito, a culinary combination of two items that are delicious in their own right: the burrito and the quesadilla.
Chipotle's quesarito answers the question, "what if I wrapped by burrito with a cheese quesadilla instead of a plain tortilla?" The result is an outer crispy layer with all the usual burrito fixings, separated from the crispy shell by a layer of cheese.
9 In-N-Out Animal Fries
Despite the fact that In-N-Out may be a relatively unfamiliar brand on the east coast, it's one of the most popular fast food franchises in the southwestern portion of the United States. This burger joint, which has been around since 1948, recently opened up its 300th location and has outlets across California, Utah, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
Famous for stressing quality over gimmicks and short cuts, In-N-Out customers typically line up to enjoy burgers made of fresh, high-quality beef, served hot off the grill. However, In-N-Out also features a massive secret menu that contrasts the simple choices listed on in-store menus.
Animal fries - which are fries topped with grilled onions, cheese and a savory "secret spread" - are one of the more delicious and satisfying choices from their secret menu.
8 Sonic Pickle-O's
Sometimes, items on a secret menu are simply menu items that were once popular but no longer listed in the restaurant. Pickle-O's are a fine example of a menu item disappearing from view but not from memory.
A Pickle-O is a regular pickle sliced and battered before taking a dip in the deep fryer. This results in a crispy, tangy, salty and savory treat that adds welcome variety as a substitution for the usual side of french fries.
This secret menu item is especially popular in the southern United States, so if you visit a Sonic and they don't know about Pickle-O's, just ask them to batter up and fry some pickles.
7 The Undertow at Starbucks
The Starbucks secret menu features a variety of fancy blended coffee drinks that simulate the experience of drinking cake, blending espresso shots, flavor shots, sprinkles and whip cream to deliver sweet deliciousness.
One item on the secret menu that delivers a blast of sweet coffee instead of a cake-style drink is The Undertow. This secret menu drink begins with a bit of regular coffee, sweetened with your choice of flavor shots and a splash of milk. On top of this base, the barista adds a couple of shots of espresso.
This drink is meant to be consumed like one great big shot of caffeine and flavor, boosting both your palette and metabolism.
6 Burger King's Rodeo Burger
Another special menu item that lives on in the hearts and minds of fast food aficionados is the rodeo burger from Burger King. What used to be a special, limited time offer has become one of the best secret menu items at this burger provider.
Similar to a western bacon cheeseburger, the rodeo burger is a cheeseburger topped with barbecue sauce and onion rings, adding a smoky onion flavor to the cheeseburger. Add another slice of cheese and a beef patty to transform this into a double rodeo burger.
The best way to enjoy the rodeo burger is by ordering the Whopper, rather than a regular cheeseburger, before asking for the special rodeo treatment.
5 The Mc-10:35 Breakfast Sandwich
Between 10:30 am and 11:00 am, McDonalds restaurants typically switch from their popular breakfast menu to their lunch and dinner offerings. This opens up an important half-hour window in which secret menu hunters may combine the best of both menus.
Known as the Mc-10:35, this secret menu item combines the McDouble with the Egg McMuffin, stacking two layers of beef and cheese with ham and egg, nestled comfortably between an english muffin bun.
Another option is The Brunch Burger, which is a McDouble stuffed with a fried egg and ham. Ultimately, this secret menu hack allows diners to exercise their imagination, combining breakfast and lunch to achieve exciting new flavors.
4 Five Guys Double Grilled Cheeseburger
Fast food culinary trends challenge chefs to explore daring new ways of fitting as much extra cheese into dishes as possible without dipping the entire item into a volcano of molten cheese.
Legendary burger chain Five Guys accepted this challenge by engaging in innovation, combining the concept of the grilled cheese sandwich with the theory of the cheeseburger, opening up an additional space in which cheese can manifest.
The double grilled cheese burger, created by mad food scientists, uses a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches as buns, surrounding a pair of beef patties which boast their own layer of cheese.
3 The Superman Burrito at Taco Bell
Taco Bell is a fast food destination made famous by chihuahuas and terrific marketing campaigns that distract the eater from what they're actually ingesting. Nonetheless, Taco Bell satisfies diners looking for a burst of Mexican-inspired flavors whenever the gut requires an injection of meat and cheese.
One of the best, most filling items on Taco Bell's secret menu is the Superman Burrito, which is 100% kryptonite-free and digestible only by superheros. This item consists of a cheesy double beef burrito - already a stomach buster - with added potatoes, guacamole, sour cream and crispy tortilla strips. Please consult your physician before eating The Superman Burrito.
2 The KFC Triple Down
Kentucky Fried Chicken, which stands for KFC, became famous for being one of the first fast-food franchises to criticize sandwich buns for being bread instead of meat. Their solution to this problem was the Double Down, which sandwiched bacon and cheese between fried chicken cutlets.
Not satisfied with desecrating sandwich orthodoxy, the secret menu at KFC offers the triple down, which tosses in an extra layer of fried chicken amongst the two layers of friend chicken buns. If you're on a diet, you can ask for the triple down with grilled chicken instead of fried chicken, which completely misses the point of this secret menu item.
1 1. In-N-Out 100x100
You'd be mistaken if you thought the 100x100 burger is a burger made out of 100 beef patties. It's actually a cheeseburger made of 100 beef patties and 100 slices of cheese. This secret menu item from In-N-Out provides enough nutrition to feed most professional sports teams, including assistant coaches.
In addition to completely destroying any feelings of hunger or subtlety, the In-N-Out 100x100 can easily be served in a rectangular trough, allowing several people to eat this cheeseburger at once. Rumor has it a 101x101 burger existed briefly before a passing black hole ate it, completely eliminating its gravitational hunger.