Every year, U.S. food companies introduce new products and line extensions in a bid to capture consumers' attention and boost sales. Many of those introductions are perfect social media fodder. This year did not disappoint. Here are some of the items from packaged-food companies and fast-food chains around the world that grabbed our attention in 2014.
Taco Bell's Waffle Taco, U.S.
Earlier this year, Taco Bell launched its breakfast menu nationally, its largest menu expansion since opening its doors in 1962. The A.M. Crunchwrap may be positioned as its signature item, but the Waffle Taco was the one that CEO Brian Niccol said "has gotten more buzz than a lot of other breakfast products." Unlike some of the items on this list, this is no limited-time offer.
Pizza Hut Doritos Crust, Australia
We're starting to wonder if everyone working with or at Frito-Lay are simply fulfilling ideas hatched during their highest moments in college. First the Doritos Locos Taco at Taco Bell, and now the Doritos Crunchy Crust Pizza in Australia. The pizza has sprinkles of bite-sized pieces of Doritos covering the crust, which also happened to be stuffed with mozzerella cheese.
Doritos-Flavored Mountain Dew, U.S.
You didn't read that wrong. Known as Dewitos, the drink was tested on various college campuses. "We knew students would be intrigued but never imagined it would take on a life of its own the way it has," a Mountain Dew spokeswoman told Bloomberg News. By students, we think she means potheads.
Domino's Peanut-Sauce Stuffed-Crust Pizza, Taiwan
It's safe to say that the large U.S. pizza chains take a lot of liberty overseas, adding unusual ingredients to their pizzas. Domino's in Taiwan began offering a peanut-sauce stuffed-crust pizza -- not the most outlandish thing, considering peanuts are a popular ingredient in some Asian cultures. The most bizarre part, however, was that the pizza also included mozzarella cheese in the stuffed crust. Call us crazy, but peanut sauce and mozzarella cheese seem like an odd combo.
McDonald's and Burger King's Black Burgers, Japan
Not one, but two major chains introduced black burgers in Japan. Burger King introduced the Kuro burger in September, complete with bread and cheese colored by bamboo charcoal and a sauce dyed from squid ink. Not wanting to be left behind, McDonald's countered with its version of the burger in October for Halloween.
Lay's Mango Salsa and Cappuccino-Flavored Potato Chips, U.S.
Lay's once again held its "Do us a flavor" contest, in which the company solicits ideas for a new chip flavor from consumers. This time around, the four finalists included bacon mac & cheese and wasabi ginger, but the mango salsa and cappuccino flavors were among the most bizarre to ever be put in chip form. After 14 million votes and three months on the shelves, according to Lay's, the winning flavor was wasabi ginger.
Little Caesars Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza, U.S.
Pretzel has seen a rise in popularity lately -- mostly as a preztel bun, like Wendy's has employed. But Little Caesars took it a step further and in September rolled out the limited-time soft pretzel crust pizza, which has pepperoni and a cheddar cheese sauce in addition to the four-cheese blend sprinkled. The product got a lot of social-media attention, and was even deemed the most-remembered ad among Millennials in September.
Domino's "Specialty Chicken," U.S.
This product caused a lot of confusion with food writers when it launched. Some sites referred to it as a fried chicken crust pizza, but that was not the case. In reality, it was just pieces of fried chicken with pizza toppings -- like bacon, pineapple and jalapeno -- on it. Is it a lazy idea -- using ingredients already in the kitchen and simply tossing them on top of chicken -- or resourceful? You decide. Either way, Domino's said chicken is one of its best selling items, so it's no surprise the company would roll out more poultry products.
Burger King's PooPoo* Smoothie, China
It's not clear why this mango and vanilla smoothie was named what it was. It's also not clear why there is an asterisk in the name. According to Kotaku, "this unfortunate name is only the English name of the beverage. In Chinese, the beverage is called something along the lines of 'mango ice smoothie with blow up pearls cold beverage.' Which fits the smoothie very well." Despite the horrific name, Kotaku maintains the smoothie is, in fact, quite delicious and similar to Taiwanese boba tea.
McDonald's Crab Burgers, Japan
Americans are used to a certain menu at McDonald's, and that menu doesn't involve crab. So to them, a crab burger at McDonald's, unveiled earlier this year, may sound more outrageous than a crab-cake eggs benedict. But the crab burger in Japan isn't all that different from a crab cake benedict or the Filet O' Fish, for that matter. The crab burger at McDonald's uses a crab croquette, similar to a crab cake, as its patty and tops it off with lettuce, tomato sauce and a ciabatta bun. Wendy's Snowcrab Special unveiled in December 2013, on the other hand, seems a bit more unusual, given it has a beef patty and then big hunks of crab on top.
Burger King's Fondue Burgers, Japan
Burger King in Japan will offer beef fondue and chicken fondue burgers early in 2015. These are not the bite-sized pieces of chicken or beef cubes typical in most fondue -- these are full burgers that come with a fondue sauce, which is made of a few different kinds of cheeses and white wine. Some promotional images show the sauce poured over the entire burger.