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McDonald’s menu items you won’t see coming back – and thank God for that

Posted by mandyf on August 1, 2011

Photo by: just jane

For all the popular menu items McDonald’s has created, they have created some real losers as well. In some cases, the food itself was awful, in others it was the marketing of the food that failed, and to a degree, they sometimes failed on both counts. McDonald’s has at times made menu choices no one could figure out the reasoning for. The McRib for instance has been pulled and added to the main menu time and again despite never really losing popularity, while other items that were found repulsive were pushed until there was no shadow of a doubt they were  massive failures.

The McDonald’s menu items seen as the greatest failures may no longer be on menus, but they live on in the memories of many people that tried them. While little pleasure was gained from these foods, the stories behind them are a least a little bit entertaining.

Before the implementation of Vatican II that changed dietary requirements for Catholics, among many other things, eating fish on Friday was the norm for a practicing Catholic. Even after the change, many stuck by the old traditions and would not eat meat on Friday. Ray Kroc, then McDonald’s owner, decided that by not offering a non-meat menu choice he was losing money. His great idea was the McDonald’s Hula Burger which was a piece of grilled pineapple with a slice of cheese served on a bun. The Hula Burger was a near instant failure. What was never understood however was why Kroc pushed the Hula Burger when a McDonald’s franchisee that realized the same thing was already doing tremendous business selling the sandwich now marketed as the Filet-o-Fish.

Around the late 1980’s, McDonald’s felt the need for a menu item they could market as a dinner specialty. The McMuffin was for breakfast, the sandwiches did well at all hours but were thought of as a lunch item, so there had to be a dinner menu item. That item was the McPizza. It wasn’t just the McPizza actually, spaghetti and lasagna were tried out too, but the McPizza was going to be the game changer. It did change things insofar as letting McDonald’s know that when it comes to Italian food they are really bad. The food tasted okay by fast food standards, but people had no desire to wait 10-15 minutes for their McPizza. Franchisees didn’t like laying out $50k for pizza ovens. Bit by bit, the McPizza disappeared, and within about 4 years all traces of it were gone from the McDonald’s menu and lexicon.

The Arch Deluxe was going to be the sandwich that made McDonald’s a favorite stop for adults. McD’s spent over $100 million marketing the Arch Deluxe as a sandwich for the sophisticated eater that offered a taste “too grown up for kids.” The ads them self were awful and actually damaged the family friendly McDonald’s image, and the sandwich that was portrayed as “icky to kids” didn’t make adults break down the doors to get a taste. The Arch Deluxe was pushed and pushed, but it never took off and holds a place as being the greatest marketing flop in McDonald’s history.

The McClean Deluxe was supposed to be the healthy burger. Opposed to the normal high fat McD’s offerings, the McClean was supposed to be 91% fat free. They made it that lean not by using better beef, they made it so lean by using seaweed (carrageen) to bind water to the beef to make up for the 10% of fat content that was removed. The idea sounded pretty disgusting to most people, and tasted disgusting to even more. Maybe America wasn’t ready for the idea of a low fat McD’s burger in 1991, but even if they were it was too disgusting to eat. Since the McClean was pulled, the briquette-like burger has been affectionately renamed the “McFlop.”

The biggest McDonald’s menu item flop was not because it tasted bad, it was the marketing that killed it. Most people have never heard of the 2002 menu item the “McAfrica.” The McAfrica was nothing more than vegetables and beef served in pita bread, and most people that ate it seemed to think it was a pretty decent bite to eat. The problem is that when the McAfrica was released, Africa was in the midst of a massive famine. The naming and timing of the sandwich was cited as being in poor taste which prompted it being pulled from most menus. Fortunately for McDonald’s the McAfrica never made it past the testing phase in Norway so the damage was slightly limited.

McDonald’s menu items come and go, and sometimes come back. These are menu items that are almost a near certainty to never come back – aside from the McAfrica which tested well enough from the taste perspective that it may surface again under another name. The next time you’re enjoying that Big Mac, just remember that there is a failed sandwich for every good one on the menu.

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One Response to “McDonald’s menu items you won’t see coming back – and thank God for that”

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