Special Report

The Most Iconic Items at America’s Biggest Fast Food Chains

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

> French fries

McDonald’s is arguably the most iconic of all fast food chains, so it’s not surprising that a number of its offerings could be described as iconic – the Big Mac (perhaps the ultimate fast-food burger), the Egg McMuffin (which launched the breakfast sandwich craze when it was introduced back in 1972), maybe even the on-again/off-again McRib (currently on a supposed “farewell tour” of the McDonald’s menu).

But the one thing almost everybody seems to agree on – even people who’d never admit to eating a McDonald’s burger – is that the fries are great, and maybe reason enough in themselves to pull into the drive-thru.

Burger King
> The Whopper

In 1957, 11 years before the appearance of the Big Mac, Burger King launched this oversize flame-broiled burger, served with mayo, ketchup, and the usual lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions, on a sesame seed bun. There are myriad ways to customize the Whopper (a page on the company website used to claim – jokingly? – that there are 221,184 possible variations).

Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bell
> Crunchy taco

Though the chain offers a variety of never-in-Mexico offerings like the Crunchwrap Supreme and the Quesarito, the basic essential Taco Bell order is the crunchy taco – a staple of the chain’s menu since founder Glen Bell is said to have invented the pre-formed crispy taco shell in the 1950s and filled it with seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Source: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

>Footlong turkey sub

Customers of this ubiquitous sandwich shop chain can choose sandwiches made with roast beef, ham, bacon, pepperoni, cheese, and various sauces, among other things – but a representative of the chain told Eat This, Not That that its clientele’s No. 1 favorite was this comparatively healthy offering, containing turkey breast, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and cucumbers.

Source: Courtesy of Starbucks via Facebook

> Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks is famous for its infinitely customizable specialty coffee drinks – most of all its blended Frappuccinos and its various lattes. But its most iconic creation, the one that launched a thousand (it sometimes seems) offshoots and imitations, is the seasonal PSL, or Pumpkin Spice Latte, introduced by the chain in 2004. Starbucks is said to sell as many as 350 million cups of the cinnamon-flavored stuff annually.

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