Taco Bell
Taco Bell

11 Fast Food Oddities Nobody Had Asked For

Taco Bell
Taco Bell

Good news, everyone. Taco Bell’s waffle taco has been so successful in SoCal test markets that they’ve decided to expand the test. Get excited, Omaha, Fresno, and Chattanooga. Sausage, scrambled eggs, and syrup all snuggled up in a warm, breakfasty waffle, is headed your way.

Sound strange? Or delicious? No matter what your opinion is on the waffle taco, one thing's for sure: It’s not the weirdest fast food to ever cross a counter. Here are 11 other oddities that chains once tried out.

1. Pizza Hut's Kit Kat Pops

Heavy.com

This dessert item (or, let's be honest, appetizer) is like a sweet version of pigs in a blanket. For customers who just don’t care about calories, Pizza Hut Middle East offers little pillows of sugared pizza dough with Kit Kats tucked inside.

2. KFC's Cheese Top Burger

This is not a clever marketing name—the KFC Cheese Top Burger literally places a slice of cheese on top of the bun. Though it was released only in the Philippines last year, it caught the attention of writers at Jimmy Kimmel Live, who were able to pinpoint the problem with this creation—you can see that above.

3. McDonald's Hula Burger

This may have been one of the original failed fast food offerings, but the logic behind it was pretty solid: McDonald’s needed something that would appeal to Catholics abstaining from meat on Fridays. While a fish sandwich may be the obvious choice now, back in 1963, Ray Kroc thought, “Hey, I know—pineapple.” The fast food giant slapped a slice of grilled pineapple in a bun and topped it with cheese, then scratched their heads when it wasn’t a best seller. After an abysmal test run, the fruity fare was scratched off the menu.

4. Jack in the Box's Bacon Milkshake

Gizmodo

Here’s another idea that takes two separate and delicious foods and combines them into something that’s neither separate nor delicious. It uses bacon flavoring, not actual bacon, but I’m not sure if that’s a consolation or not. The reviews are in, and they’re... mixed. Some people think the smoky bacon flavor mixed with vanilla ice cream is actually pretty good, while others deem it “aggressively” bad.

5. Burger King's Shake ‘Em Up Fries

In 2002, customers who just weren’t content with plain old salty fries could get a “Cheezy Flavor Blast” packet to sprinkle on their Burger King fries. The fries came in a paper bag, so after sprinkling, you’d simply close the bag and shake like hell. Voila! Cheez Fries.

6. White Castle's Chicken Rings

MightySweet

You love onion rings? You love chicken nuggets? You’ll adore chicken rings. Or not. One writer described them thusly:
“The juiciness is more like a semblance of juiciness, in that it feels like moist meat, but there is actually no visible juice in the strangely crisscrossed fibers of the 'chicken.' And at the end, there’s a very weird, chemical kind of bitterness, a taste that throws the reality of what I’m chewing to the fore: This is a lab-created facsimile of food.”

But don’t take his word for it. It would appear that the chicken rings are still available, so get thee to a White Castle immediately if “lab-created facsimile of food” is appealing to you.

7. McDonald's Kolacky

While a Bohemian pastry may be a good addition to Dunkin’ Donuts or even Panera Bread, it doesn’t exactly scream “McDonald’s.” Ray Kroc found this out the hard way when he launched the product in honor of his mother, who apparently made damn good kolacky (also spelled kolache, by the way). Maybe it would have lasted longer in stores if he had used her recipe.

8. Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza

CBS News

You know how sometimes you can’t decide if you’d rather have a hot dog or a couple of slices of pizza? Pizza Hut knows that feeling, too. Enter the Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza, an unholy hybrid of the two. Unfortunately/fortunately, this is another delicacy not available in the States—the Hot Dog Stuffed Crust has only been released in the U.K. and Canada.

9. Burger King's Meatloaf Sandwich

Making your own meatloaf sandwich out of leftovers at home: Yum. And yet, going to Burger King and ordering a sub-sized meatloaf sandwich just seems like all kinds of wrong, though Bob Uecker disagrees (and so does Dan Cortese).

10. Burger King's Pumpkin Burger

While we’re on Burger King missteps, let’s look at a burger topped with slices of kabocha, commonly known as a Japanese Pumpkin. It’s also smothered in a creamy nut sauce that includes sesame seeds, peanuts, cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts. You won’t find this one at a drive-thru near you unless you live in Japan, though.

11. McDonald's McSpaghetti

Delish.com

Most people go to McDonald’s for burgers, chicken nuggets, maybe a milkshake or even the rogue salad. But Italian? Not so much. That didn’t stop Golden Arches execs from putting McSpaghetti on the menu several years back, though. Because what’s more appealing than eating spaghetti with watery sauce out of a flat, styrofoam container? Though McSpaghetti didn’t do so hot in the U.S., it’s still available in some international markets, where it developed a cult following.

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Health
20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer
iStock
iStock

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]

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Food
9 Healthy Frozen Meals to Keep in Your Freezer

Frozen dinners don’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to nutrition. Many of the pre-made meals you’ll find at your local supermarket are loaded with sodium, fat, and calories. But there are still a few nutritious (and tasty) options, as long as you know where to look. Here are a few frozen food brands to keep in your freezer for those times when you need something quick, painless, and yes, healthy.

1. LOVE THE WILD

Pescatarians rejoice: This Colorado-based company specializes in meals made from sustainable, farm-raised seafood. They have your traditional microwaveable meals—like the Baja-style fish taco bowl and the sweet and spicy Korean BBQ bowl—but they also offer oven-ready fish kits. Cooking is easy: Simply place the provided (heart-shaped!) parchment on a baking sheet with the filet on one side; put the frozen sauce cubes on top; wrap it up; and pop it in the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes. You can also throw in any veggies you might have in your freezer, and Love the Wild provides some tasty recipe ideas on its website. Even Leonardo DiCaprio is a fan: “LoveTheWild’s approach to sustainable, responsible aquaculture is promoting the development of a secure and environmentally-conscious solution to feeding our planet’s growing population," he said last year after investing in the company.

2. CAPPELLO'S

Who says pizza has to be bad for you? With Cappello’s naked pizza crusts, you can build your own healthy pie just the way you like it. The crusts are made from arrowroot and coconut flours and are gluten-free, grain-free, and paleo-friendly. The brand also makes pre-made pizzas, vegan cookie dough, and a few varieties of pasta, including lasagna sheets, fettuccine, and gnocchi. Cappello's recommends recipes on its website, and the summer pesto pizza with chicken breast, goat cheese, and arugula is a great, light dish to serve at outdoor parties this season.

3. BEYOND MEAT

Vegetarian burgers on the grill
Beyond Meat

The Beyond Meat team set out to create a vegan burger that looks, tastes, and even "bleeds" like a real beef patty (due to the beet juice used to make the patties red). Ethan Brown, the company's founder, insists that the patties aren't much different from meat burgers. "Our company observation has always been that you don’t need an animal to produce a piece of meat," he tells Forbes. "You can obtain all of the core parts of meat—the amino acids, the lipids, the trace minerals and of course water from non-animal sources. And you can assemble those in the same architecture as animal meat." Some of their products are sold in the meat section of grocery stores, but a few items are available frozen, including The Beast Burger 2.0. Bill Gates and DiCaprio are both investors, and the company just announced it will start selling its products on six continents this summer.

4. GOOD FOOD MADE SIMPLE

As the name suggests, you’ll find simple, wholesome ingredients here. Since it was founded in 2011, the brand has been on a mission to offer minimally processed meals that "add nothing unnecessary" by way of ingredients. The company abides by a long list of "unacceptable ingredients" [PDF], including a variety of hydrogenated oils as well as artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, and sweeteners. Although they originally dealt only in breakfast dishes for busy workers on the go—burritos, scrambled egg bowls, pancakes, steel cut oatmeal, and more—they later branched out and started offering ready-made entrées. Their egg white patties are perfect for making your own customizable breakfast sandwiches.

5. DAILY HARVEST

This subscription food service proudly wears the frozen food label. "For decades, the space has been dominated by unhealthy or pseudo-healthy products that are hyper-refined and preserved," Daily Harvest founder Rachel Drori told the Huffington Post. "We are working hard to tell a new story, about the potential in freezing unadulterated to solve the modern eating dilemma of wanting convenience without compromise." Daily Harvest points out that after three days, some frozen fruits and vegetables contain more antioxidants and vitamins than their fresh counterparts. Their produce is frozen on the farm within 24 hours of harvesting, and they offer everything from cauliflower rice and kimchi harvest bowls to chocolate protein and almond chia parfaits. The pre-portioned meals, which are delivered to customers’ homes, are backed by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Serena Williams, and chef Bobby Flay.

6. EVOL

A burrito
Evol

Evol urges its customers to “think outside the microwave.” The brand’s burritos and quesadillas can be heated up in a panini press, on the stove top, or on the grill, allowing a level of customization that most frozen food brands don’t offer. A range of Asian, Italian, and Mexican dishes are available, all of which are free of antibiotics and preservatives. When asked by Dining Out why Evol has become so popular, the company's founder, Philip Anson, replied, "We built a brand rooted in love and farm-to-table values, but with some hipness to it in a category known as a cold and lonely place—legacy brands, uninspiring, mystery meat, sodium and fat." He said Evol's bowls—like truffle parmesan mac and cheese and butternut squash-sage ravioli—are their most popular dishes.

7. LUVO

Luvo’s meals are based on what they call the 3-2-None policy. This involves balancing protein, whole grains, and veggies; limiting sodium and added sugar; and avoiding all artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and antibiotics. In addition to steam-in-pouch meals and pasta bowls, Luvo offers “power bowls” that are packed with at least two servings of vegetables. The company's emphasis on nutrition goes beyond its products, though: Luvo also partners with WhyHunger, an organization that's addressing the issue of hunger in America by tackling the root cause of the issue while recognizing "nutritious food as a human right." Luvo also partners with A Sense of Home, which helps foster children who have "aged out" of the system transition into a new home.

8. BEETNIK

Organic frozen meals with simple ingredients are the name of the game for Beetnik. Their meals are free of preservatives, gluten, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, hormones, artificial colors and flavorings, and antibiotics. One of their most popular dishes is their Peruvian seasoned chicken stew, made with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and spices. The company's founder, David Perkins, is a chef; when asked by Paleo Foundation what his favorite Beetnik dish is, Perkins replied, "I love our flat iron steaks, our Peruvian chicken stew, and our sablefish, but tomorrow I might give you three different items. I eat our products regularly, which is how I got into the business. Start with great ingredients."

9. EATOLOGY

Like Daily Harvest, this subscription food service delivers frozen meals right to your door via UPS. Eatology meals combine aspects of both the paleo and zone (low-carb) diets, while also incorporating lots of lean proteins and healthy fats. In addition to being paleo-friendly, there are plenty of low-carb, Whole30, and vegetarian options available. Bad news for carb lovers, though: You won't find bread, potatoes, or pasta on the menu. Their dishes change daily, but past meals have included white chicken chili on a bed of yellow squash, ratatouille, cilantro jalapeno burgers, and chili cheese fries (using sweet potatoes and carrots).

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