A Recent History of Fast-Food Mash-Ups

Started with burgers, now we're here.

  • Click through the gallery for a look at the mash-up dishes that have become a calling card of the fast-food industry...
  • Beefy Crunch Burrito at Taco Bell. This is the first time Taco Bell experimented with chips inside a burrito, deploying Fritos for some crunch. Recently, Taco Bell annouced via Snapchat (naturally) that these are coming back for a limited time. (Photo: Taco Bell)
  • Pancake Stackers from IHOP. Back in 2010, the national temple to calorie-ladened breakfast and stoner snacking served these cheesecake-filled buttermilk pancakes for a limited time. Who needs brunch when you can skip right to bressert? (photo:NBC news)
  • Hershey's Chocolate Dunkers at Pizza Hut. Some mad fast food scientist decided to combine a chocolate bar and the chain's signature breadsticks. They're still available at Pizza Hut's nationwide. (Photo: Luuux)
  • Buffalo Blasts from The Cheesecake Factory.  The casual chains  have also got in on the action. Cheesecake Factory still serves this combination of chicken, cheese, and buffalo chicken wrapped in a wonton wrapper, deep fried, and serve with a hefty portion of bleu cheese dressing. (Photo: The Cheesecake Factory )
  • Fiesta Taco Pizza from Pizza Hut. Available back in 2007, this was the ultimate combo of three fast-food staples: tacos, pizza, and regret. (Photo: Fat Wallet)
  • Nacho Burger from Burger King Netherlands. BK stateside is pretty tame considering their most boundary pushing menu item at the moment is a bacon milkshake. BK in the Netherlands, however, is pushing the burger bar by stuffing a Whopper with tortilla chips and some  mildly offensive sounding "Mexican sauce." (Photo: Yummly)
  • Dessert Pizza from Pizza Hut. These sweet pizzas were topped with either cherry or apple pie filling, then doused with a serious amount of brown sugar oatmeal crumble and finished off with vanilla icing. If you don't live by the rare Pizza Hut that still churns these out, you should join this Facebook group dedicated to bringing them back. (Photo: Facebook)
  • Doritos Locos Taco from Taco Bell. Perhaps the most famous of fast-food mashups, this use of Doritos as a taco shell gave birth to one of Taco Bell's best sellers. (Photo: Taco Bell)
  • Fried Cheese Melt from Denny's. You can now get a grilled cheese casually stuffed with deep fried mozzarella sticks for a mere $4. Gluttony at it's finest. (Photo: Huffington Post)
  • Grilled Cheese BurgerMelt from Friendly's. Just in case you feel like you need to eat three sandwiches at once, Friendly's has you covered. This burger rests on buns made from two grilled cheese sandwiches. (Photo: The Worlds Best Ever)
  • Mac N' Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt from Denny's. This next-level patty melt not only has all the usual suspects grilled between two buttery pieces of bread, but also an added layer of macaroni and cheese. This is not for the weak of heart. (Photo: Signature 9)
  • Pizzabon from Cinnabon. This is the moment we've all been waiting for—Cinnabon's entrance into the pizza game. They take their decadent soft dough and stuff it with melty cheese, pepperoni, and tomato sauce instead of the usual heaps of cinnamon sugar and icing. (Photo: Gawker)
  • Pop Tart Ice Cream Sandwich from Carl's Jr. Pop Tarts are are no longer just for nutritionally questionable breakfasts. This year, the folks behind Carl's Jr. decided to sandwich a serious scoop of vanilla ice cream between two of them and sell them for less than $1.50. (Photo: Huffington Post)
  • Waffle Taco from Taco Bell. Masters of the fast food mash-up, Taco Bell did a limited launch of their sausage, scrambled egg, and maple syrup-filled Waffle Tacos in Southern California recently. Watch this space. (Photo: Daily Finance)
  • Pizza Hut World Wide. The international outposts of this chain is the reigning champ of fast food mash-ups. In Japan they have a corn dog-crusted pizza, while in the UK they are offering a hot dog-stuffed pie, and to top it all off, at locations throughout the Middle East, Pizza Hut is selling a pizza with cheeseburgers or chicken fillets in the crust. They make your large Meat Lover's pan pizza look like child's play. (Photo: Foodbeast, NPR, Blogspot)
  • Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich from Dunkin' Donuts. "Egg patty" and bacon sandwiched between a glazed donut. At only 360 calories, this is the least gut-bombtastic thing on the list...but still. (Photo: Eater)

This week, Dunkin’ Donuts got the Internet buzzing by dropping its Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich, a gluttonous creation featuring bacon and eggs stuffed between two glazed doughnuts. On paper, it’s not much of a stretch from the infamous Luther burger, or doughnut burger, that pops up from time-to-time at publicity-starved restaurants across the country. But within the fast-food world, it represents an ever-growing trend toward mash-up cuisine, or Franken-foods, in which two previously distinct items are combined into one loud package. Doritos and tacos. Dessert and pizza. Burgers and nachos.

These mash-up creations have become increasingly popular, and we’d surmise that there are two main reasons: 1) They are easy to understand, since they take two things that already exist and that people are familiar with and combine them into one over-the-top item—this is, by and large, how all creativity works in the Internet age. 2) They often allow chains to compete in new areas by creating ambiguous foods that are not recognizably breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Taco Bell wants a share of the breakfast market, so it recently dropped its waffle taco. When IHOP puts a cheesecake in between pancakes, it can get you salivating at 10am and 10pm.

If you look at the history of fast-food mash-ups, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are the clear game-changers, pushing the boundaries of their offerings as often as they can. What’s also interesting is how popular this trend is at international outposts of franchises—Pizza Hut Middle East seems to make headlines every other day with its creations such as cream-cheese cone crust pizzas and Kit Kat-stuffed breadsticks. Perhaps there’s no better representative of all-American excess than the junk food mash-up.

Click through the gallery above for the key touchstones of fast-food mash-ups in recent history. 




  • Lexxa

    this is disgusting!

  • Guest

    Fritos locos tacos 3 kinds of flavors like plane, chili cheese, flame in hot

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