Chicken is big business for fast-food restaurants. Look no further than the recent so-called Chicken Sandwich Wars that pitted one chain against another in a bid to create the best-selling, market-cornering fast-food chicken sandwich of 2020, according to Restaurant Business. Chains including Popeyes, KFC, Fatburger, and others all released new chicken sandwiches over the course of a few frantic months, both creating and then responding to a frenzy of public interest.
And if you prefer some stats, consider these: Chicken McNuggets are the fourth best-selling menu item at McDonald's. Nuggets are the fourth best-seller at Wendy's, while the Chicken Power Bowl is currently #1 on the menu at Taco Bell, via Fast Food Nutrition. And according to Statista, chicken-centric fast-food chain Chick-fil-A saw systemwide sales topping $13.7 billion in 2020, the most recent year for which complete data was available.
All those upbeat chicken stats aside, there's no such good news for the eight menu items featured here, for these fast-food chicken menu items have been discontinued for good. Plus, check out 11 Discontinued Fast-Food Burgers You'll Never See Again.
The Chicken, Maple Butter&Egg Sandwich
One of the most short-lived chicken sandwiches on this list is Starbucks' Chicken, Maple Butter&Egg Sandwich. The breakfast bite was launched on June 21 of this year, and only a couple of days later (June 26th to be exact) the coffee chain had to quickly dropped the option from the menu indefinitely. According to Food&Wine, a Starbucks spokesperson claimed that the sandwich was removed for not keeping up with quality standards. At the time, many customers and even fellow Starbucks baristas were making complaints on social media that they were experiencing food-borne illness symptoms—such as diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain—after eating the discontinued product. While Starbucks and/or the FDA never formally recalled the item for these alleged reasons, the chicken breakfast sammy still hasn't made it back to stores since.
McDonald's Chicken Selects
A huge hit when they came out in 2004, McDonald's Chicken Selects nonetheless didn't quite last a decade—they were pulled from the menu in 2013, according to Business Insider. As a replacement for these upscale takes on the McNugget, McD's added Buttermilk Crispy Tenders a few years later, though those too are off the menu at least for now, having disappeared during the pandemic, which caused infamous chicken shortages far and wide.
Chick-fil-A Chicken Quesadilla
Chick-fil-A canceled their Chicken Quesadilla not because it wasn't tasty and rather popular, but because it did not hit a particular and all-important fast-food restaurant mark: it couldn't be made fast enough. So while a Chick-fil-A quesadilla might have been a delight, it's now a mere memory. Don't worry, the Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich will live forever.
KFC Double Down
At the risk of editorializing, this is a canceled fast-food menu item that needed to be gone for good. The KFC Double Down was a "sandwich" wherein the buns were actually slabs of fried chicken, and between said slabs were bacon, cheese, and sauce. Perhaps keto-friendly, this approximation of a sandwich was generally a horror show, and it packed in 37 grams of fat.
Taco Bell Spicy Chicken Crunchwrap Supreme
Taco Bell's Spicy Chicken Crunchwrap Supreme was on the menu for less than half a decade, having been available from 2006 to 2010, reports Change.org. But in those scant few years, this hefty, filling fast-food menu item found fans aplenty, such that people were still calling for its return nearly a decade after it had been discontinued.
McDonald's Snack Wrap
The McD's Snack Wrap was about as healthy of bite as you could get from the fast-food chain that would genuinely fill you up some. Snack Wraps had chicken, cheese, and fresh veggies rolled up in a tortilla. They were cheap, tasty, portable, and popular. But they were canceled in 2016, and despite rumors of their return, these wraps are gone without any indication from McDonald's that they will ever return.
Burger King Chicken Sandwich
According to Chew Boom, in early 2021, Burger King introduced a few new chicken sandwich options, like the new Ch'King Sandwich and Spicy Ch'King Sandwich. But in so doing, they also dropped their standard Chicken Sandwich and Spicy Chicken Sandwich, to the chagrin of many. To make things confusing, BK does also offer an "Original Chicken Sandwich," which has a different shape and ingredient list than that canceled Chicken Sandwich.
In the early 2000s, perhaps to compete with the popular McDonald's Dollar Menu (in fact almost assuredly to compete with this low-cost menu), KFC added the KFC Snacker to its menu. It was a small, simple chicken sandwich: a soft bun, some mayo, and some fried chicken and that's it. But it was a true fan favorite, and people were crestfallen when it was discontinued about a decade ago. But according to Food Beast, the subsequent addition of Chicken Littles was a decent stand-in.
McDonald's Grilled Chicken Sandwich
So much for a slightly healthier fast-food sandwich option. McDonald's dropped the Grilled Chicken Sandwich off its menu in March of 2020, according to Business Insider. And what was taking hold in March of 2020? Right, the pandemic. Also cut at that same time were salads and the chain's beloved all-day breakfast menu.