Fast Food Hot Dogs That Completely Disappeared From Menus
Quick: name your all-time favorite fast food burger. Would you go with a classic like the Big Mac, or something more modern (and comparatively upscale) like a never-frozen beef patty used by Five Guys? Whatever your metaphorical poison, there’s a seemingly unlimited number of fast food burgers to choose from — meaning there’s no shortage of potential answers one can give for top burger.
Now, along those same lines, name your all-time favorite fast food hot dog. If you came up empty-handed in that second category, you’re not alone. After all, while quick-service burgers are literally everywhere coast to coast, hot dogs often feel relegated to 7/11 hot rollers, or the not-quite nationwide Wienerschnitzel (which only operated in 10 states as of January 2023).
Now, while fast food hot dogs are relatively sparse compared to their all-beef cousins, that doesn’t mean a number of chains haven’t tried adding a hot dog to the menu over time. In fact, whether it was a well-known flop, a beloved canceled item, or a limited-time promotion, there’s a fair number of fast food hot dogs that have come and gone through the years. With that in mind, we gathered some of the more prominent examples, and present those fast food hot dogs that completely disappeared from menus.
If McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc had had his way, the fast food burger chain would have skipped its McHotDog chapter entirety. In fact, according to his autobiography "Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s," Kroc was firmly against adding hot dogs, writing "there’s no telling what’s inside a hot dog’s skin, and (the restaurant’s) standard of quality just wouldn’t permit that kind of item." But once the Mickey D’s founder passed away in 1984, all bets were off. And in 1995, the chain introduced the McHotDog to the world — only to see it crash and burn, just as Kroc warned.
It’s hard to say the precise reason why this seemingly-perfect companion to McDonald’s burgers, fries, and McNuggets landed with a thud. Frankly, though, our inability to pinpoint anything specific about the McHotDog’s failure stems from the genuine dearth of information surrounding the item and its time on the menu. In fact, if you were completely unaware that a hot dog was once briefly sold under the Golden Arches, we can’t say we’d fault you for that.
Of course, as most people are undoubtedly aware, the McHotDog hasn’t returned in the U.S. this century — though we’d be intrigued to see it pop up on the menu one day. Not that we’ll hold our breath. After all, we’d assume McDonald’s will instead honor its late founder’s hot dog wish, and keep the item away.
Mini Corn Dogs (Jack in the Box)
The few times we’ve been able to patronize Jack in the Box, we’ve been struck by the sheer number of available items. Frankly, given its robust menu, we wouldn’t have been shocked to learn the chain had never discontinued a single item. Yet as you may have concluded, we wouldn’t be discussing it otherwise. And while the chain appeared enthused when announcing the release of its Mini Corn Dogs in 2012, the fact remains the miniature hot dog snack is nowhere to be found in 2023.
To be sure, Jack in the Box sounded supremely hopeful that customers would enjoy its new hot dog product upon rollout. As the company’s director of menu marketing and promotions Tracy Dunn told RestaurantNews.com in 2012 upon the Mini Corn Dogs’ release, the item was a "fun and tasty twist on an American classic" that offered a "convenient, easy-to-eat add-on to any meal … to share with family and friends."
While we wish we could further enlighten you regarding the fate of Jack in the Box’s fast food hot dog entry, we weren’t able to find any real information about the product beyond its initial release. Clearly, then, we can’t say what caused its Mini Corn Dogs disappear — but it seems there’s virtually no chance the snack will return any time soon.
Grilled Dogs (Burger King)
Of all the fast food hot dogs that came into our lives — only to eventually disappear, because all things must pass — we have to admit we held a particular fondness for Burger King’s Grilled Dogs. First introduced nationally in early 2016, the Grilled Dogs were sold in several different varieties, including a classic version (topped with mustard, ketchup, relish, and onions), a chili cheese variety, and a Whopper Dog, which featured all the standard Whopper fixings on a hot dog.
Of course, when you consider the Grilled Dogs appeared to have been discontinued by August 2017, according to one Redditor – and, well, the fact the Grilled Dogs remain gone as of March 2023 — it’s clear the item hardly set the world on fire. We may have greatly enjoyed (and still miss) the charred flavor of this discontinued hot dog, but there’s no disputing the fact that Burger King’s Grilled Dogs were a major flop.
We can’t say for sure why Burger King’s Grilled Dogs weren’t embraced by the world at large. All we can say is we’ve never gotten over this fast food hot dog’s complete disappearance from the menu — and (pause facetiously for dramatic effect) we don’t think we ever will.
Dunkin Dawgs (Dunkin’)
We can’t say we’ve always been entirely on-board with the shift in focus by Dunkin’ (nee Donuts) over the years. In fact, while it’s crystal clear the Quincy, Massachusetts-founded coffee and donut chain has been desperate to expand beyond its, well, coffee and donut identity, that doesn’t mean we have to like its choice to expand menu items beyond breakfast. Of course, some items have always felt like a bridge too far, like the chain’s very-short-lived Dunkin’ Dawg from 2006.
Now, unless you were at one of the small handful of Dunkin’ locations around the U.S. that sold the Dunkin’ Dawg (including a Nashua, New Hampshire store), the odds you experienced this bagel dog-type product are slim to none. Was it an issue with the item’s quality that caused it to come and go from the menu without a wider release, or perhaps something more innocuous — for instance, the Dunkin’ Dawg presented too many logistical challenges for store staff to handle? We may never know.
Frankly, while it’s easy to imagine Dunkin’ marketing executives excited for its hot dog launch, we can just as easily envision a scenario where they simply chose to pull the cord before it made any impact at all.
Chicago Dog (Sonic Drive-in)
No restaurant chain may have embraced the idea of a fast food hot dog more than Sonic. The Drive-in-themed restaurant has sold numerous hot dogs throughout its existence, after all, and offers four hot dog varieties on its menu as of March 2023, including a chili cheese dog and a corn dog. Unfortunately for customers, not all hot dogs remain part of the company’s long term business plan or strategy — such as the previously-sold Chicago Dog, which (you guessed it) featured all the toppings famously found on a Chicago-style hot dog.
Now, as is often the case when restaurants discontinue a product (including several fast food items we sadly lost in 2022), Sonic wasn’t very forthcoming with the rationale behind the Chicago Dog’s discontinuation in 2017 – or the fact it chose to stop selling the item in the first place. But it’s not as though the item was without fans. In fact, as seen by a series of Twitter comments about the Chicago Dog’s disappearance, the specialty fast food hot dog seemed widely beloved by consumers.
Like any other discontinued fast food hot dog, there’s always a chance the Chicago Dog makes a triumphant return to the Sonic menu. Until that day, though, we’ll have to make do with the memories.
Hot Dog Bites Pizza (Pizza Hut)
Are any food items more evocative of American culture than hot dogs and pizza? There’s simply no denying the duo’s combined popularity among U.S. diners, or that the two foods have become intimately ingrained in U.S. life. Given this, it’s not especially shocking that Pizza Hut once sold a Hot Dogs Bites pizza with a circle of hot dog bites (essentially pigs in a blanket, or mini crescent dogs) instead of a standard crust — nor was it surprising to see it eventually disappear from the menu.
Now, if you’re going to create an off-the-wall pizza with mini crescent dogs as a crust, you need to nail the hot dog component. And if you’re searching for an answer as to why people stopped buying the Hot Dogs Bites pizza after its 2015 introduction, it appears to lie in its subpar hot-dog-as-crust product. Does the fairly unexpected fact that this product was originally developed for and sold in Asian markets (rather than the U.S.) make its not-quite-right hot dogs more understandable? Well, we can’t say for certain, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Hot Dogs (Wendy’s)
On the one hand, the idea that Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King have each tried to incorporate a hot dog into their respective menus is easy to believe. But the idea that none of the three largest fast food burger chains in the U.S. as of 2020 could find a way to keep a hot dog on their menu over time is rather stunning. Along those lines, while the Wendy’s all-beef hot dogs seen in a 1985 commercial make us wish we could enjoy one with a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger and a Frosty, it’s been an impossible dream since the end of the 1980s.
Even the addition of a Chicago-style dog (no ketchup!), as seen in a 1989 commercial, couldn’t save hot dogs at Wendy’s. Now, while we often aim to be optimistic, we’re prone to pessimism when it comes to the potential future of hot dogs from the Dave Thomas-founded fast food burger chain. After all, in response to one Twitter user asking whether a hot dog is a sandwich in 2017, Wendy’s offered a curt reply, noting it doesn’t sell hot dogs — leaving little hope that that will ever change.
Corn Dog Nibblers (White Castle)
As far as we can tell, White Castle (a fast food chain Ted Cruz is obsessed with) has offered a variety of Nibblers side options through the years. In fact, as of March 2023, the square slider-slinging chain has several Nibblers available for purchase, including shrimp and fish Nibblers. However, as you likely noticed, that list doesn’t include Corn Dog Nibblers, the restaurant’s formerly-offered fast food hot dog snack it introduced in 2015 (and again the following year).
The Corn Dog Nibblers featured a honey-flavored corn breading, and by all accounts, were a deep-fried, bite-size delight. Thankfully, White Castle seems wholly aware of the Corn Dog Nibbler deliciousness, as evidenced by the product being reintroduced several times, including in November 2019.
In other words, we may not have the Corn Dog Nibblers at this very moment. But compared to the vast majority of other fast food hot dogs that completely disappeared from menus, most of which appear dead and buried to the world? There is a reason to be over-optimistic.
Double Down Dog (KFC)
As demonstrated by the March 2023 return of KFC’s famed (and famously extravagant) Double Down chicken sandwich, it’s clear the one-of-a-kind fast food concoction continues to grab the public’s attention. Of course, most folks are undoubtedly aware of the Double Down’s existence. But there’s a fair chance many of those same individuals have never heard of KFC’s one-time offered Double Down Dog — a hot dog that (surprise, surprise) used a U-shaped piece of fried chicken in place of the standard bun.
There is an important caveat to keep in mind with this particular fast food hot dog — U.S. customers have never had the opportunity to purchase one. In fact, as shown by a 2015 Facebook announcing the one-day, while-supplies-last promotion, the Double Down Dog was only available at select stores in the Philippines.
Since KFC made it clear it had no plans of importing the Double Down Dog to U.S. soil, hoping this fast food hot dog returns (or even appears for the first time) may be wasted energy. At least we have the classic Double Down to console us.
Corn Dog (Burger King)
We’re not too proud to admit this: every so often, a corn dog can be a phenomenally sweet and salty indulgence. We wouldn’t go as far as Mary (Cameron Diaz) in "There’s Something About Mary" and endorse the introduction of widespread meat-on-stick options. But on occasion, a corn dog can check a lot of boxes. Of course, the magic words are on occasion, a belief that may have led Burger King’s Corn Dogs to completely disappear from the menu before it even made a nationwide release in the mid-2010s.
Corn Dogs were briefly sold at select Burger King locations in Maryland and Michigan in 2015, alongside the not-yet-nationally-sold Grilled Dogs. Now, while the Grilled Dogs obviously earned a (brief) call-up to the big show in 2016, the fact its test companion was left behind says a lot — though Burger King has said very little about its decision.
Since we have trouble conceiving of a corn dog being anything less than mouthwatering from Burger King, we can only speculate a non-quality reason caused this item’s discontinuation. What are those reasons? Frankly, we’d love the answer to that question, as well.
Hot Dog Pizza (Domino’s)
When Pizza Hut decided to combine pizza and hot dogs, it zigged rather than zagged by going the crust-replacement route. Domino’s, meanwhile, took the decidedly more standard approach with a hot dog pizza concept introduced in 2019. In fact, some might say (or, at least, we would say) Domino’s decision to use hot dogs as a simple topping (along with mustard and onions) was sort of boring.
Now, contrary to what we’d have expected, the Hot Dog Pizza was hardly despised, at least by several UK-based commenters on a 2020 Reddit thread after its discontinuation. But we have to ask of Domino’s: Why? Why bother with putting hot dogs and mustard on a pizza? And why would any consumer consider that combination enticing in any way?
Frankly, we’d much rather do as the world intended, and have hot dogs as one dish, and a pizza as a separate, unrelated culinary treat. We won’t shed any tears for this fast food hot dog-featuring product’s disappearance, then.
Hot Dog McNuggets (McDonald’s)
The logic behind McDonald’s corporate tendency to add ‘Mc’ to the beginning of certain food’s names — in turn creating a unique, trademarked name tailormade for marketing purposes — is simple to see. After all, when we hear a certain name (like McNuggets), it creates a very clear mental picture. Unfortunately, that very expectation regarding McNuggets flavor and appearance may have contributed to the failure of the chain’s Hot Dog McNuggets from 1991.
Now, it’s no secret chicken McNuggets are an insanely popular snack (or meal) enjoyed by adults and children alike (though based on a 1991 commercial for Hot Dog McNuggets, it may have been aimed at kids). But the item’s very high regard may have unintentionally caused an inflated (or misleading) idea of what customers should expect from the hot dog variety. Additionally, it’s plausible some consumers could have been turned off by the use of McNuggets’ batter for this hot dog product — namely those folks expecting something more akin to a mini corn dog.
As with several other fast food hot dogs on this list, we can’t say for certain what the reason was (or timing of) McDonald’s decision to discontinue its Hot Dog McNuggets (since we weren’t able to unearth that information). But we can say it’s nowhere in sight as of March 2023 — and is likely to stay that way.