Eating fast food is an American rite of passage. It’s not something you should do every day — or even every week. But as an occasional indulgence, a quick stop by your favorite drive-thru isn’t going to derail your diet too badly.
While McDonald’s isn’t the biggest fast food restaurant in the world, it is the most profitable, and that’s what really matters. It reportedly sells more than 75 hamburgers every second and feeds 68 million people per day — about 1% of the world’s population.
There’s no question that McDonald’s is a success story. But not every menu item has been a hit. Remember McSpaghetti? Yeah, nobody else does either. It seems like the undisputed king of fast food should stick to selling what it knows best: its top 10 best-selling menu items of all time.
10. McGriddles breakfast sandwich
Sitting down to a giant stack of pancakes is a luxury for people who have the time. But what about those folks who rush around in the morning and still want a balanced breakfast? They head to McDonald’s to get a portable version.
This No. 10 top-selling item features bacon and eggs sandwiched between two pancakes stamped with the letter “M.” The eggs are frozen and slightly modified. But they are reminiscent of the real thing, which makes hungry breakfast seekers shrug and say, “Close enough.”
Next: Double cheeseburger
9. Double cheeseburger
When you’re not hungry enough for a Big Mac but a paltry single burger seems like a snack, the double cheeseburger saves the day with double the beef and cheese for a tiny price.
The double cheeseburger was first introduced in 2003 as part of the Dollar Menu, a veritable hit for McD’s from day one. You can’t get one for a dollar anymore — the cost of cheese is too high — but at $1.69, it’s still a great bargain for a whole lot of meat.
Next: Premium salads
8. Premium salads
You might not think many people head to McDonald’s for their salad fixes, but you’d be wrong. Premium salads are the No. 8 best-selling item in the company.
In 2003, McDonald’s ditched boring, tasteless iceberg lettuce for a new blend and came up with new recipes to entice health-conscious customers who didn’t mind paying more for quality. These days, Southwest Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Salad and Bacon Ranch are top picks.
Just be careful. When you opt for salads topped with cream-based dressing and breaded chicken, you could be scarfing more calories then you would with a regular old burger.
Next: Chicken nuggets
7. Chicken nuggets
There are some fast food restaurants solely devoted to chicken because that’s what people like to eat. McDonald’s may be burger-focused, but there’s no denying the popularity of its nuggets.
McNuggets were first introduced in 1980 and have been extremely popular ever since. The grown-up version of nuggets, Chicken Selects, were taken off the menu in 2015. But fans can still order Buttermilk Chicken Tenders for basically the same taste.
Next: Apple pie
6. Apple pie and apple slices
“Would you like an apple pie with that?”
This dessert item was introduced in 1992 and has remained a top seller thanks to the taste and low price point. (It’s only 99 cents.)
The McDonald’s apple pie has more natural ingredients than you might expect. But if you want to go ultra-healthy, you can order the plain apple slices, too. This nutritious side is also a great alternative to french fries in Happy Meals. The popularity of both these items is what propelled apples to the No. 6 spot on the list.
Next: Egg McMuffin
5. Egg McMuffin
The Egg McMuffin will go down in history as the first true breakfast item offered by a fast food restaurant.
Fast food exec Herb Peterson set out to recreate the classic breakfast dish Eggs Benedict in sandwich form, which is how the Egg McMuffin came to be. The fifth best-selling McDonald’s sandwich of all time includes an English muffin, poached egg, cheese, and Canadian bacon.
Next: Happy Meal
4. Happy Meal
You might be surprised to find out McDonald’s is the largest toy distributor in the world. Even more surprising? Despite its success marketing to kids, the concept is fairly new. Boxed kids meals weren’t introduced until 1979.
Happy Meals may have been a late addition, but now they’re a McDonald’s mainstay. These colorful meals for kids are the fourth best-selling item in the restaurant’s history.
Next: Snack wraps
3. Snack wraps
When you’re hungry but you’re not starving, a snack wrap satisfies that craving in a hurry. Whether you choose Grilled, Crispy, or Buttermilk Crispy, these portable meal options are cheap and tasty. It’s what makes them the third best-selling items on the list.
Next: Big Mac
2. Big Mac
It’s hard to think of McDonald’s without picturing a Big Mac in all its greasy, gluttonous glory. It’s the second best-selling product of all time thanks to clever marketing efforts.
Recently, the Big Mac got a bit of a makeover. And it’s now offered in two sizes: Grand Big Mac and Mac Jr.
Next: French fries
1. French fries
It turns out that yes, America does want fries with that. McDonald’s french fries are the best-selling menu item of all time.
Hot, salty, and addictive, these side items have been on the menu since the beginning, and customers just can’t get enough. Here’s a pro tip for ensuring your fries are fresh: Order them without salt (and add your own later). This forces employees to make a special batch just for you.
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