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10 Most ridiculously-named menu items at chain restaurants

IHOP's Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n Fruity is the grand-daddy of goofy menu names.
IHOP's Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n Fruity is the grand-daddy of goofy menu names.

There once was a time when you could go out to eat at a little restaurant and order an appetizer, a burger, and maybe have a coffee after. Not anymore. Today, especially if you choose a chain restaurant, you’re far more likely to have an Appe-Teaser, followed by a Kickin’ Gargantuburger and a Buzzalottacinno. Chances are good the word jammin’ will appear on the menu somewhere.

Once hamburgers and fish sandwiches became Whoppers and Filet-o-Fishes, simply-named menu items flew out the window. While that’s great for marketing, it’s a challenge for the customer, who’s forced to have to say some pretty silly-sounding things, or just go home and make a sandwich.

Here are ten of the menu items with the most absurd names.

1. Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity (IHOP)

It’s the grand-daddy of goofy menu names, having been a staple at IHOP for almost thirty years. IHOP swears that people “love saying Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity," but just about everyone knows someone who will order their eggs, bacon, and strawberry pancakes a la carte, just to avoid the ridicule.

2. Moons Over My Hammy (Denny’s)

Second only to IHOP’s fruity fabrication in frivolousness, the Moons Over My Hammy still ranks high, not just for menu longevity, but also its inescapable ability to remind the customer of a carload of teenagers with their rear-ends hanging out a window. Nothing says breakfast like random butt sightings! Even the promise of pork products can’t make the idea of mooning sound delicious.

3. Road Kill (Texas Roadhouse)

While ordering Road Kill might not kill your dignity quite as much as the top two entries, it’s guaranteed to kill your appetite -- and that of anyone in your presence. It’s better than it sounds (ground chuck smothered in onions, peppers, and cheese), but you can’t help but wonder if the meat was recently meandering down the nearest interstate.

4. Joey Bag of Donuts (Moe’s Southwest Grill)

Moe’s entire menu seems designed to make customers feel uncomfortable, from the Earmuffs burrito bowl to the taco called Funk Meister. (The Moo Moo Mr. Cow proves that they’re equally dedicated to humiliating your young child.) The Joey Bag of Donuts takes top prize at Moe’s for not only being hard to parse, but making it sound like you’re ordering a sackload of donuts when all you want is a dang burrito. (Next new menu item at Moe’s: The Dang Burrito?)

5. Old Timer’s Breakfast (Cracker Barrel)

The corporate bigwigs behind Cracker Barrel probably didn’t think too hard about it when they signed off on their marketing team’s naming of the Old Timer’s Breakfast. (They were probably too busy fighting discrimination lawsuits.) While the name might seem quaint to those who are young, it’s not so cute to, say, the middle-aged woman who probably doesn’t want a lot of attention drawn to her age. Believe it or not, even the elderly aren’t often keen on being called “old timer.” Try it, and see how quickly you get bashed with a walker.

6. Kids’ Naked Tenders (Popeye’s)

It’s sketchy enough to express your interest in Naked Tenders to a cash register jockey. It’s even sketchier to express your interest in Kids’ Naked Tenders. If you choose to do so, make sure you have an actual kid in tow. Even better, make sure it’s your own. Order quietly, or Chris Hansen may pop up from behind the deep fryer.

7. Texas Tonion (Longhorn Steakhouse)

How can you read the words “Texas” and “Tonion” together, much less say them, and not want to give someone in marketing a vicious papercut with your menu? It’s alliterative for no real purpose. It’s like having a Chicken Chandwich for sale, or a Papple Pie. And what the crud is a tonion, anyway? Good thing they trademarked it, or else every restaurant would be serving up Tonion Rings and topping off finer dishes with caramelized Tonions.

8. Scattered, Smothered, Covered (etc.) Hash Browns (Waffle House)

It’s difficult enough ordering at Waffle House, considering that if you’re in one, it’s either so early that you’re not yet awake, or it’s so late that you’re still semi-drunk. The last thing you need is a mouthful of modifiers. The trick to ordering Hash Browns is remembering which adjective means what topping, like a secret code. If you want it all, you’re golden: simply say you want everything. But what if you want everything, minus one or two things? You’re stuck saying “Hash Browns scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, diced, capped, peppered, and topped”—leaving off “country.” Can you imagine ordering at Burger King and requesting your Whopper slathered, bloody, green, and crying?

9. Chocolate Thunder From Down Under (Outback Steakhouse)

Outback’s insanely-named dessert is just an ice cream-topped brownie with chocolate sauce. There’s nothing thunderous about it. Then again, there’s nothing “from down under” about it, either. It’s not drenched in Foster’s, it wasn’t cooked on a the barbie, and it won’t come back to you if you throw it. That’s not stopping Outback from giving the concoction that sounds like a toss-up between a pro wrestler or a porn star.

10. Screamin’ Nacho Burger (Buffalo Wild Wings)

If you’re going to include adjectives in menu item names, here’s a tip: use a word that actually suggests what might be in the food. Words like spicy, cheesy, deep-fried, or lard-laden are all acceptable. “Screaming” is so far removed from food as to be meaningless. Buffalo Wild Wings may as well offer a Thoughtful Nacho Burger or Cuddly French Fries. The burger in question happens to be two patties drenched with BBQ and ranch dressing, topped with corn chips, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, and pico de gallo. Honestly, if anyone ends up screaming, it won’t be the burger, but you.

What’s the silliest menu item name you’ve encountered, whether locally or nationally? Tell us below.

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