Top stunt foods are those wild ‘n’ crazy fast-food selections that make you go, whaaat? and head out immediately to try something on the cutting edge of culinary creations. These innovative treats are often born from a partnership between two entities, such as in the case of Burger King’s Mac N’ Cheetos or Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco, while others are simply edgy, inventive alternatives to the usual fast-food fare.
But don’t think these treasonous treats come into being without a lot of forethought and hard labor. Quite the contrary: From conception to menu choice, a stunt food can be in the works for a year or more as food scientists, engineers, nutritionists and other experts pool their knowledge and talents to develop, test, and tweak the new item until it looks glorious to the eyes, feels perfect in the hands, tastes like heaven in the mouth, and sits beautifully in the belly. This is no small feat, requiring endless focus groups and market tests and numerous attempts before reaching top stunt food perfection.
As an homage to the great American top stunt food tradition, here are the five most innovative–and successful–stunt foods in America.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich
Super sweet and perfectly salty, the Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich eschews conventional bread in favor of a finger-lickin’ good glazed donut sliced horizontally and stuffed with an egg, sausage, and cheese. Fans can’t get enough of this breakfast treat, and while it’s probably not the healthiest way to start out your day–okay, it’s definitely not the healthiest way to start out your day–it’s a daring, delicious, and decadent comfort food treat that’s the antithesis of a conventional breakfast for those who like to break their fast with something a little different.
Del Taco’s Chili Cheese Fry Burrito
When Del Taco got wind that customers were concocting their own chili cheese fry burritos in the store–and some were even growing so bold as to ask the counter staff to make it for them even though there was no such item on the menu–the company quickly brought in their research and development people and instructed them to make this chili cheese fry burrito thing happen for realz. They did, their legions loved it, and it’s been a huge hit ever since.
Burger King’s Mac N’ Cheetos
June 27, 2016 is a day that will live on in the hearts of scores of BK fans who, on that day, first tasted the burger chain’s Mac ‘N Cheetos, a stunt food for the ages. Resembling mozzarella sticks but far oranger and cheesier, Mac N’ Cheetos consist of a Cheetos-flavored shell filled with creamy, steamy mac ‘n’ cheese. While some say it’s too salty and carries only a hint of crunch, others think it’s the best mashup since mashed potatoes and gravy.
KFC’s Double Down
Imagine a sandwich that uses fried chicken fillets instead of bread, and you’ve got the KFC Double Down. This burger patty, bacon, and jack cheese abomination tastes so good, apparently, that fans lucky enough to be included in its testing took to YouTube in droves to spread the love, mugging for the camera while trying the new delicacy and bragging about being the first wave of Americans to get to try it out. So loud was the initial buzz that KFC didn’t even wait for testing to end before announcing the Double Down’s nationwide arrival, explaining that they wanted their fans to be able arrange their schedules in advance to be one of the first to try the new menu selection.
Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco
This bright-orange nacho-cheese taco treat debuted in 2012 and proceeded to sell like hotcakes to the tune of a million units a day. Teens in particular fell in love with the DLT, taking to social media in exultation that something so delicious and decadent could be so accessible. So successful was the DLT, in fact, that Taco Bell had to hire an additional 15,000 workers to handle the uptick in business.