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

Fast food giants McDonald's (MCD) and Taco Bell (YUM) are tapping into fan nostalgia to boost traffic.

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

The Double Decker Taco was introduced in 1995 as a limited-time offering before it became a 13-year menu mainstay from 2006 to 2019. It includes a soft flour tortilla layered with beans then wrapped around a crunchy shell with beef, lettuce, and cheese.

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

Beginning today, rewards members can cast votes daily in the Taco Bell app until October 6. The winner will be revealed on October 7 and appear on menus at participating locations at a later date.

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

In Taco Bell's parent company's third-quarter earnings call with investors, David Gibbs, Yum! Brands CEO, noted, "Demand for the Mexican Pizza was seven times 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."

In the recent quarter, system sales for Taco Bell U.S. increased by 9%, boosted by 8% same-store sales and 2% unit growth.

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

Following years of pleas and requests to bring back former menu items, Taco Bell is introducing an in-app voting experience. (Courtesy: Taco Bell)
Following years of pleas and requests to bring back former menu items, Taco Bell is introducing an in-app voting experience. (Courtesy: Taco Bell)

A Happy Meal, of sorts, for adults

McDonald's is looking to appeal to fans with a different type of memorabilia — its collectible figurines.

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

Customers can choose between a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNugget and includes its coined World Famous Fries, but here's the catch — the boxed meal will include a surprise of one of four collectible figurines. 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 every week, including custom 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 buy the merchandise starting October 3 at 11 a.m. ET.

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

In a press release, Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA chief marketing and customer experience officer said the company plans to take one "most nostalgic McDonald's experiences" and repackage it, adding, "This is another way we're reigniting a new generation’s love for our food and the brand.”

Cactus Plant Flea Market is popular with younger audiences for its limited-edition drops. In the past, the "market" has teamed with both Kayne West and Nike (NKE) for different sneaker collaborations, as well as Supreme, among others.

Shares of McDonald's are down 3.4% compared to 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 her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

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