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5 fast foods that captured everyone’s imagination in 2018

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

The introduction of fattening new foods took a backseat in the fast-food industry in 2018, with good reason.

This year has seen the world’s biggest fast-food chains focus on inking delivery partnerships with the likes of Uber Eats, hawking two for $6 deals and unveiling new touch screen ordering machines inside of restaurants. For example, McDonald’s will end the year with more than 15,000 out of its 37,000 restaurants globally offering delivery. Self-order kiosks are also set to be available in more than 15,000 or so McDonald’s around the world by year end.

With fast-food chains focused on opening up new avenues to reach consumers and the economy firing on all cylinders, the fast-food industry has returned to growth. Restaurant industry same-store sales gained 1.2% in the third quarter — the best since the third quarter of 2015 — according to industry research firm Black Box Intelligence. Traffic in the third quarter dropped 1.3%, but even still that marked the best result in the past three years.

While fast-food chain’s played their menus somewhat safe compared to the innovations that crept up in 2016 and 2017, some did take a few chances to try and attract consumers and get them snapping photos for Instagram.

Here are several fast-foods released in 2018 that left an impression on Yahoo Finance.

Arbynator

Say hello to the Arbynator. Credit; Arbys.com

This meat mountain from Arby’s (owned by Inspire Brands, which also owns Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic) dropped in mid-November. The limited-edition sandwich features thinly sliced roast beef topped with curly fries, cheddar cheese sauce and Arby’s sauce all on a sesame seed bun.

It comes in three sizes: classic, double and half pound. Go for the half pound and call it a day. YOLO.

Arby’s Seared Duck Breast Sandwich

Arby's has ventured into duck breast. Credit: Arbys.com

After finding success selling deer meat in 2017 (aka venison), Arby’s released a seared duck breast in late October. The sandwich, which was only available in 16 locations across the country, boasted a seared duck breast, smoked cherry sauce and crispy onions all on an Arby’s bun.

KFC Chicken & Waffles

KFC finally brought waffles into its chicken equation. Credit: KFC.com

Mark this creation down in the “what took so long” column. Yum! Brands owned KFC released the combination in early November. It features KFC’s extra crispy chicken tenders and waffles topped with Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup.

The item is scheduled to roll off the menu on Dec. 31.

Triplelupa

The Taco Bell triplelupa is triple the size of a chalupa. Credit: Thrillist courtesy of Taco Bell

Staying on the excess theme from Yum! Brands, the company’s Taco Bell chain began testing the Triplelupa at 12 California locations in late November. The 11-inch item is essentially three chalupas fused together.

Talk about Instagram food in its finest form.

McDonald’s Fresh Beef Patties

McDonald's now uses fresh beef.

Although not appearing any different, new fresh beef patties from McDonald’s deserve to be on the list because of the logistical challenges of getting them to market given the company’s size.

McDonald’s began testing fresh — not frozen — beef patties in mid-2016. The Golden Arches rolled them out nationwide earlier this year. Now McDonald’s is more in keeping with long-time rival Wendy’s who has always used fresh beef.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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