McDonalds and Taco Bell tap into nostalgia with the return of menu items and collectibles

Fast food giants McDonald’s (MCD) and Taco Bell (YUM) are harnessing fan nostalgia to drive traffic.

On Tuesday, Taco Bell announced its first-ever in-app voting experience, allowing fans to vote for the Double Decker Taco or Enchirito to return to menus for a limited time.

The Double Decker Taco was introduced in 1995 as a limited-time offering before becoming a menu mainstay for 13 years from 2006 to 2019. It features a soft flour tortilla topped with beans then wrapped around a crispy shell with beef, lettuce and cheese. .

The Enchirito lasted 40 years. The soft flour tortilla filled with beef, beans and onions rolled up and covered in red sauce and cheddar cheese was first introduced in 1970 before being retired in 2013.

Starting today, rewards members can vote daily in the Taco Bell app until October 6. The winner will be revealed on October 7 and will appear on the menus of participating establishments at a later date.

The fan offer comes after the mega-hit limited-time offer of its Mexican Pizza earlier this year, now a permanent menu item.

On parent company Taco Bell’s third quarter earnings call with investors David Gibbs, Yum! The CEO of Brands, noted, “Demand for Mexican pizza was seven times higher than previous levels, reaching over 20 million pizzas sold nationwide, with some stores selling out within a week, creating a sustained positive halo for the brand.

During the last quarter, system sales for Taco Bell US increased 9%, driven by 8% same-store sales and 2% unit growth.

Shares of Yum! Brands are down 14.5% from a year ago.

After years of calls and requests to bring back old menu items, Taco Bell is introducing a voting experience into the app.  (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

After years of calls and requests to bring back old menu items, Taco Bell is introducing a voting experience into the app. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

A Happy Meal, of sorts, for adults

McDonald’s is looking to entice fans with a different kind of memorabilia – its collectible figurines.

On Tuesday, the Chicago-based chain unveiled a collaboration with streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market for a new lunch box designed specifically for adults. From October 3, the box will be available in restaurants, via drive-thru, by delivery and can also be ordered via the McDonald’s app, while supplies last.

Customers can choose between a 10-piece Big Mac or Chicken McNugget and includes its world famous fries, but here’s the catch – the boxed meal will include a surprise from one of four collectible figures. Fans will get either Grimace, the Hamburglar, Birdie or newcomer Cactus Buddy.

Fans who purchase the McDonald’s box will automatically be entered to win exclusive merchandise each week, including personalized Cactus Plant Flea Market x McDonald’s items like t-shirts and a Grimace chair. Fans who don’t score a box or just want the toys can purchase the merchandise starting October 3 at 11 a.m. ET.

McDonald's USA x Cactus Plant Flea Market (Courtesy of McDonald's USA)

McDonald’s USA x Cactus Plant Flea Market (Courtesy of McDonald’s USA)

In a press release, Tariq Hassan, director of marketing and customer experience for McDonald’s in the United States, said the company plans to take one of “McDonald’s most nostalgic experiences” and repackage it, adding: “It’s another way to rekindle a new generation’s love for our food and brand.

Cactus Plant Flea Market is popular with younger audiences for its limited edition drops. In the past, the “marketplace” has partnered with both Kayne West and Nike (NKE) for various sneaker collaborations, as well as Supreme, among others.

Shares of McDonald’s are down 3.4% from a year ago, with one analyst suggesting the stock could turn “cold” in the near term.

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email him at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

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