In 1948, the McDonald brothers reduced the restaurant’s offerings down to just nine items to make their Speedee Service system even more efficient.
The new menu included hamburgers, cheeseburgers, soft drinks, milk, coffee, potato chips, and a slice of pie for dessert. In 1949, potato chips were swapped with french fries and McDonald’s began selling milkshakes.
In 1965, McDonald’s introduced the Filet-O-Fish sandwich nationwide.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, it was created in 1962 by Lou Groen, a McDonald’s franchise owner in Cincinnati, Ohio, after he realized hamburger sales were declining on Fridays during the season of Lent.
Groen then decided to create a sandwich featuring fish instead of beef. Three years later, it was made available nationwide and has remained on McDonald’s menus ever since.
McDonald’s is also experimenting with celebrity collaborations in a bid to reach Gen Z customers.
Rapper Travis Scott’s collaboration with the chain was a huge success — so much so that McDonald’s reported it was experiencing burger shortages as people clamored to try it. About a month after the release of the Travis Scott meal collab, McDonald’s launched another partnership with reggaeton star J Balvin.
Since then, McDonald’s has partnered with South Korean boy band BTS and rapper Saweetie on meal collaborations, which both included limited-edition sauces.
Burger King opened its doors in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1953, as “Insta-Burger King.”
The chain, which quickly grew to be the second-largest fast-food chain in the country, behind McDonald’s, served 18-cent flame-broiled burgers, milkshakes, and fries.
In 1957, Burger King released its signature burger, the Whopper.
The Whopper was 37 cents compared to Burger King’s original burger, which cost 18 cents. The Whopper came with sauce, cheese, lettuce, pickles, and tomato, all piled on top of a larger patty.
Today, Burger King still broils and flame-grills its burgers.
The Dwarf Grill in Hapeville, Georgia, opened in 1946. It would eventually become what we now know as Chick-fil-A.
The business, owned and operated by founder Truett Cathy, started off by selling standard items like waffles, breakfast foods, sandwiches, and burgers.
However, everything changed when Chick-fil-A created its original chicken sandwich in 1964.
According to Chick-fil-A, Cathy tested hundreds of recipes for the original chicken sandwich before landing on a winner — a fried chicken fillet with two pickles on a toasted butter bun.
Though Chick-fil-A has expanded immensely since then, the chicken sandwich has remained virtually the same.
In-N-Out became California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand when it opened in 1948.
In 1958, In-N-Out replaced its bottled drinks with fountain service, offering customers beverages like Pepsi Cola, Nesbitt Orange, and Hires Root Beer. According to In-N-Out, a 12-ounce soda cost just 10 cents at the time.
In 1963, In-N-Out began serving its famous Double-Double burger.
In 1975, In-N-Out began serving milkshakes. A few years later, In-N-Out opened its first location with a dining room in Ontario, California.
However, while some new items have been added since 1948, the menu is still pretty similar to the original menu, offering basic fast-food items like burgers and fries.
White Castle is regarded as the first fast-food hamburger chain in America. It opened its doors in 1921.
Founded by Billy Ingram as a family-owned business, the fast-food establishment originally sold 5-cent, small, square hamburgers by the sack. They would come to be known as “sliders.”
In 1943, White Castle would sell hot dogs and fried eggs instead of its iconic burgers as a result of the war’s beef rationing.
In 1962, White Castle began selling cheeseburgers.
This addition came 15 years after the chain secured a patent for its “holy” burgers — each burger is still grilled with five holes punched into it to add more flavor and help them cook faster.
Today, White Castle still sells its iconic sliders.
The sliders are also sold in grocery stores nationwide, meaning you can get your White Castle fix right at home. In 2018, White Castle revolutionized its menu by offering the plant-based Impossible Slider.
Popeyes first opened in 1972 as “Chicken on the Run” in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi, Louisiana.
The restaurant originally served traditional, Southern-style fried chicken. However, after the restaurant faced lackluster sales for a few months, founder Alvin C. Copeland Sr. changed the restaurant’s name to “Popeyes” and began selling spicy New Orleans-style chicken.
In 1983, Popeyes began selling buttermilk biscuits.
The biscuits are now regarded as one of Popeyes’ most iconic menu items and come with the chain’s combo meals.
Since then, Popeyes has also started experimenting with celebrity collaborations.
On October 19, Popeyes launched a new collaboration with rapper Megan Thee Stallion. The collab included a new iteration of its iconic chicken sandwich, which comes covered in limited-edition “Hottie” sauce, a slightly spicier version of sweet-and-sour sauce.
When Insider’s Erin McDowell tried the sandwich, she thought it was better than the original, although the sauce could have been spicier.