Fast Food Failures
If these 14 dishes were all still on the menu today, America’s average life expectancy might be much shorter. Some of these may be your old favorites; others may be your arch nemeses (the ones that broke your resolve and clogged your arteries). All of these were either deemed too unpopular, too healthy or just too crazy to be on a fast food menu. If we missed any of your personal favorites, definitely let us know in the comments.
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The Arch Deluxe
McDonald’s introduced the Arch Deluxe in 1996 and according to one estimate, they spent nearly $200 million promoting the product. A big part of the problem is that this burger just tasted too unusual to most fast food eaters. It featured pepper bacon, Spanish onions and a blend of mustard and mayo. Recognizing that this item was different than all its others, McDonalds actually went so far as to use its advertising to criticize the “unrefined taste buds” of its customers, essentially arguing that people needed to try harder to like it. Sadly, nothing worked and the Arch Deluxe crumbled forever.
This is just the first of many failures for the fast food giant.
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Burger King has struggled over the years to introduce mini burgers, somewhat akin to what White Castle currently sells. According to the Nation’s Restaurant News, “In the 1980s, Burger King introduced miniature burgers called Burger Bundles. That product was discontinued and resurrected as the Burger Buddy, but the small patties reportedly often slipped through the production broiler. The product was discontinued.” Earlier this year, however, the chain once again introduced minis onto their menu, this time thinking it would be a good fit for cash strapped recession eaters.
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The Choco Taco is exactly what it sounds like. Unfortunately, this treat has been removed from the menus of most Taco Bells, though it allegedly can be found in certain stores. Still, there is an online petition (with hundreds of signatures) to bring back the Choco Taco everywhere. Here’s a recipe for how to make your own, but your best bet is to look to other ice cream companies that sell similar items.
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The McDLT was a schizophrenic burger, through and through. Introduced in the mid 1980’s, the burger was served separated (by a chunk of Styrofoam) into the cold side (veggies) and the hot side (the meat) so that customers could “keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool,” as the slogan went. It was then up to the consumer to take the bold step of combining the two when ready. About the only thing that this product actually accomplished was giving Jason Alexander (soon to be known as George Costanza) an early taste of the limelight and a rare chance to showcase his endangered full head of hair.
Catch a video of his McDLT commercial here.
Dairy Queen Breeze
One fairly common theme we found in researching this list is that when a fast food chain tries to introduce a healthier version of their standards, it usually fails. Case in point: the Dairy Queen Breeze. It was introduced in the late 80s as a spinoff of their hugely popular Blizzard drink, a soft serve ice cream with candy or cookies. The Breeze was made with frozen yogurt instead, but it failed to catch on. (They’d actually tried to introduce a similar frozen yogurt product back in 1975, but that failed as well.) According to Dairy Queen’s Web site, all frozen yogurt products were discontinued “because there was not enough demand for the product.” Dairy Queen recommends trying sugarless items on the menu instead if you have a craving for the slightly healthier guilty pleasure.
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Taco Bell's Bell Beefer
The Beefer was marketed as Taco Bell’s version of a sloppy joe. The Bell Beefer was sold in the 70's and 80's, and was essentially a heaping portion of taco meat served in a hamburger bun. I personally can’t imagine anything more delicious than that. If you want to resurrect it, here’s a recipe we found.
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When McDonalds first introduced this item onto the menu in the late 1980s, competitors like Pizza Hut were worried enough that they tried to undercut McDonalds by dropping their pizza prices. But the McPizza was quickly riddled with problems. According to Associated Content, it took much longer to make this than other products, which made fast food customers angry. On top of that, it couldn’t even fit through the drive through window.
Sonic's Fried Pickles
Sonic, the drive-in fast food chain, used to sell a delicious item called the Fried Pickle. The Village Voice’s food blog described this item the best: “A vegetable rendered almost nutritionally null by its high sodium content made 20 times worse by a date with a deep fryer.” We’re actually kind of surprised that it failed. After all, Americans are willing to fry anything, so why not pickles? Maybe they should consider bringing this item back. Sonic has had a pretty lousy financial year on the whole.
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Imagine a world where you could walk into a Wendy’s and get an all-you-can-eat buffet of a wide variety of food ranging from salads and spaghetti to burritos. For just over a decade this heaven on earth actually existed. But in 1998, the company pulled the plug on the Superbar, claiming that it did not fit in with their overall fast food model. There are still groups of people pining for its return.
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Back in the early 1960’s, McDonald’s started to scrounge for a good meatless sandwich option. No, this wasn’t to lure the burgeoning vegan population, but rather to appease Roman Catholics who refused to eat meat on Fridays. So McDonald’s introduced two new meatless items. The first was the Filet-O-Fish, a hugely popular fish sandwich with tartar sauce that is consumed by hundreds of millions of people every year. The second sandwich was the Hula Burger, which was essentially a slice of grilled pineapple between two buns… with cheese. This item was quickly removed from the menu.
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Taco Bell’s Frito Burrito may have had the advantage of a catchy rhyming name, but ultimately it was destined to fail. It was a chili-cheese burrito mixed with, you guessed it, Fritos. Apparently Taco Bell customers prefer their chili-cheese to be pure and separate from anything else, though frankly I and much of America think they are missing out.
Burger King's Shake 'em Up Fries
In the spring of 2002, Burger King decided to encourage eaters (mostly kids) to “play with their food” by introducing Shake ‘em Up fries. Essentially, you just poured the fries into a special Shake ‘em Up bag, then sprinkle some powdered cheese on them and shake until the fries got covered in cheese. This actually isn’t such a bad idea. Think about it: at least this way people get to work off some of the calories. Like maybe one fry’s worth. Unfortunately, the Shake ‘em Up Fries didn’t even last the year.
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Of all the items on this list, the McAfrika is by the far the biggest public relations failure. McDonalds introduced this item in Norway back in 2002. The actual sandwich was fine – a mix of beef, cheese and salad on pita bread. But McDonalds was bombarded with bad coverage from the media and from various aid agencies questioning the reasoning behind marketing a burger called the McAfrika when millions of people in Africa were starving to death. So the burger was discontinued. Amazingly, there is even a group of people calling for this item to be resurrected. Obviously there is no accounting for taste.
Think some of these fast food flops sound gross? Read our recent article on the grossest fast food meals you can buy right now.