In our lifetime, lots of things come and go. Just when you’re not looking, your favorite thing just vanishes and is quickly replaced with the next new thing. The same goes for our favorite fast food items. However, there is usually a good explanation for their disappearance; here are 10 Biggest Fast Food Failures of All Time and probably the reason they no longer exist.
10. McDonald’s- McRib.
The McDonald McRib Sandwich disappeared into obscurity in the 1980s. Approximately 38 years ago, before anyone ever heard of pulled pork sandwiches, McDonald’s created this barbecue-flavored pork sandwich which consisted of boneless pork patty made from pork shoulder meat that was molded to resembled a miniature rack of ribs. The sandwich, which consisted of a patty slathered in barbecue sauce came topped with onions and pickles, served on a 5-and-a-half-inch submarine roll. It was first introduced to the menu in 1981. After poor sales, it was removed from the menu in 1985 and reintroduced a few years later. It stayed on the menu until 2005 in many countries. Here is a little bit of trivia; did you know that the process of restructuring meat was first developed by the US Army as a low-cost measure for troops in fields during wartime? The process was refined by meat scientist, Dr. Roger Mandigo, which lead to the creation of the McRib patty as we know it today. From 2006 to 2018, the McRib made an occasional reappearance on the menu for a short period of time every year during the fall; but only in markets where sales were good. Nonetheless, McDonald’s executives decided that pork was not eaten as often in most parts of the US for it to stay on the menu long term. In case you are really dying to try the McRib, a short trip abroad is in order to Germany or Luxemburg where a sampling of this can be had at McDonald’s anytime.
9. Burger King’s- Veal Parmigiana
The Burger King’s Veal Parmigiana sounded like a sure thing in the ’80s. Everyone loved this proverbial Italian favorite, tasted like Nonna’s homemade veal sandwich, slathered with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella on a panini shaped bread. It was delicious, even though no one believed it was an actual veal. The introduction of this veal-based sandwich in 1980 did not come without controversy. It caught the eye of many animal rights activists in the US, Canada, and New Zealand. A few years later, several groups were alleging that the veal being sourced to Burger King was inhumane towards the treatment of these animals. The group claims that Burger King uses special-fed calves that are separated from their mothers at an early age, confined in two-foot-by-four-foot stalls, unable to turn around, until they are killed at three months old. They wanted Burger King to stop serving the sandwich, which Burger King refused to do. In protest, a boycott of the sandwiches resulted, but critics of the boycott argued that the type of veal that was being used was a free-range veal due to cost issues. The rights groups refused to back down despite the cost claims, Burger King eventually announced that it intended to pull the sandwich from the market, stating that it was not because of the boycotts but because there was a lack of consumer demand. In fact, the chain said the sandwich sold best in the markets where the majority of the protests were occurring. What is that all about!
8. Pizza Hut’s-Taco Pizza
This one is for all those kids in the 80’s who will remember Pizza Hut’s Taco Pizza. Who can forget it, it was the best thing invented since sliced bread! Introduced in the late ’70s and popular until the ’80s, Pizza Hut’s Taco Pizza came served on their original crust pizza, topped with seasoned ground beef, taco sauce, and a mix of cheddar and melted mozzarella cheese. The lettuce and tomatoes were added on top after it had been cooked. “It was a pizza looking taco tasting pizza”, as the commercial says, watch it on YouTube it’s quite catchy. For those who missed the chance at eating this delicious pizza, it actually looked good and tasted decent. A cross between Mexican and Italian food, it was really popular for a while trying to emulate both food genres. Some chains still make a taco pizza or a variation of it, fast food fans are still craving this dish decades later. Taco Bell has its own version these days called Mexican Pizza, but they use tortilla instead of dough. The best way to eat a taco in the ’80s was to eat it on a Pizza Hut pizza apparently. A couple even got engaged while eating a taco pizza in 1979 at Pizza Hut. They subsequentially ate one every year on their anniversary since and when they no longer served it at Pizza Hut, they have been making their own version for decades since the pizza was discontinued. If that’s not a sign of a good pizza, we don’t know what is.
7. Wendy’s -Frescata Deli Sandwich
Wendy’s is best known for its square hamburger patties, and even those have been replaced as of late. But in 2006 they came out with a new menu item, deli sandwiches. Wanting to get in on the market because of slumping sales and the popularity and rise of Subway restaurants at this time. Wendy decided to cut in on Subway’s action and also increase their profit margin in that market and began offering their own line of freshly prepared deli sandwiches. Sold under the name Frescata, the sandwiches offered multiple variations on the ham and cheese sandwich, they served it on artisanal bread and even got all fancy by offering dabs of pesto. The sandwiches in the Frescata line up included the Frescata Club, Roasted Turkey with pesto & Swiss, Black Forest Ham & Swiss and Chunky Chicken Salad Frescata. The word Frescata in Italian means fresh, the sandwiches were freshly prepared and initially welcomed as a lower-calorie and healthier alternative, to Wendy’s burgers and fries. However, the idea never really caught on due to poor sales. The other major glitch was that it took too long to prepare the sandwiches, and people were waiting too long in line to receive them. While the burger orders were flying out the window, the Frescata fans were left behind in line waiting. They were also a headache to prepare for the staff. Wendy’s discontinued the sandwiches a year later.
6. Burger King-Burger Bundles
Burger King has had no shortage of epic food failures. None is more evident than their Burger Bundles which were released in 1987. Presented as a slider, a very small hamburger meant obviously for massive consumption in more than multiple quantities. Burger King figured they were so small, that people would have to order two or more at a time to really get their fill. Therefore, doubling their sales and resulting in more money in their pockets. The Burger Bundles were popular with teens and the late-night crowd, who did not have too much money to spend after an evening of partying. Despite their popularity, the burger bundles had their issues as well. Preparation was tedious and difficult as they had to so many more, because of their size. The cooks also had issues with the cooking process as they would fall through the grills on the stoves. Losing more patties that ended in the garbage at the end of the night, than those that actually made it out of the kitchen and were actually sold. Ultimately, the technical demands required to make them proved too much, and they were discontinued just months after they were introduced. In reality, this new item menu was not as cost-effective as they were very expensive to produce and not very profitable for Burger King. Greediness does have a way of backfiring and it did to come back to bite them in the buns.
5. McDonald’s-Hula Burger
McDonald’s has also had its share of failures more than any fast food outlet in the US. I can list 10 just in this one sentence. It is normal for the marketing team to think up new ideas to please its customers, following more often the trends of the day. But nothing was more inane than the invention of this burger from McDonald’s. The Hula Burger was a meatless burger introduced in the 1960s by Ray Kroc. Today meatless burgers, like Beyond Meat are popular because of the introduction of vegan lifestyles. Back in the ’60s, meat was still good and not processed the way it is 40 years later. This burger was invented as a substitute for American Catholics who could not eat meat on Fridays. The burger was a slice of grilled pineapple with cheese on a bun. Yuck.! Designed to go up against the Filet-O-Fish, which was created by a Catholic McDonald’s Franchisee Louis M. “Lou” Groen. McDonald’s killed the Hula Burger early on, as it became quickly evident that its alternative, the Filet-O-Fish, was getting much better traction.
4. McDonald’s-Fish McBites
McDonald’s Fish McBites were similar to the Chicken McBites, except they used the Alaskan Cod found in the Filet- O-Fish Sandwiches. The McBites were small pieces of flaky white fish dipped in batter and deep-fried until they were golden brown and served with tartar sauce for dipping. They were offered in three sizes; snack (10 pieces), regular (15 pieces) and shareable (30 pieces). The Fish McBites were a welcome change and the first new addition to the Happy Meal menu in a decade. Again, they mostly were marketed and catered to Catholics during Lent and were specifically meant to have a short run. But Fish McBites failed to hook enough diners to get the fast-food chain’s U.S. sales growth for two reasons; they were marketed to the wrong demographic. Happy Meals cater to children and not many kids like fish, even if they look like nuggets. The launch marked the start of what McDonald’s said was a bigger pipeline of new limited-time offers. By adding more variety to its menu, the company was hoping to fend off competition and tempt customers to eat out more. The Filet-O fish remains a popular contender for fish during Lent and the McBites did not really catch on. It can also be another short-lived victim of the McDonald’s nugget-shaped curse. But battered, deep-fried fish isn’t an unusual menu item, and given that Lent happens every year, maybe these could definitely return.
3. Pizza Hut-Bigfoot Pizza
Pizza Hut’ Bigfoot Pizza was a big thing in the ’90s, named so because of its size, it was one of their more popular pizzas. The pizza measured 12 inches by 24 inches (or 2 square feet) and was cut into twenty-one slices. Ideal for parties, big groups, or a very hungry family with lots of leftovers for breakfast the next morning. With the Bigfoot, you could choose up to three toppings of your liking for under $11.00. There were all kinds of extra promotional things surrounding the Bigfoot Pizza. In 1993, Pizza Hut put in a free trial month of HBO or a free video rental from Blockbuster with a purchase of the Bigfoot as a limited-time offer. There was also the “Bigfoot Big Six”, which was a variation with six different toppings and sold for the same price as the standard Bigfoot. Throughout the ’90s, Pizza Hut offered and combined all kinds of promo stuff like free admission to theme parks, extra pizza toppings and much more. This pizza competed with the likes of Little Caesars’ Big! Big! Cheese and the Dominator from Domino’s Pizza. The Bigfoot won over but big time. It was really well-liked and popular and the gimmicks were not really necessary. Over time, Pizza Hut retired the pizza and moved on to other things, but fans have been screaming for its comeback for a while now. Let’s hope it does return.
2. McDonald’s- McDLT
Even though McDonald’s has a dominant position in the US marketplace, they still have to attract customers. Marketing departments and research teams are constantly on the lookout for new ways to attract customers with new and better ideas. However, not all of the ideas are a good thing and successful all the time. But we have to give it to McDonald’s for trying. In the ’80s, the decade of excess, McDonald’s introduced the McDLT. It was a simple idea, nothing more than a hamburger with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, packaged in a double-sided Styrofoam container that kept “the hot side and the cold side separate”. It was the customer’s job to put the two sides together, ensuring a balanced burger and evenly distributed heat. It was sold on the premise that it was more appetizing this way. McDonald’s was already facing public relations issues because of its environmental unfriendly standards concerning too much packaging, the McDLT only emphasized their problems. The burger was discontinued in 1990, because of the backlash it received regarding the container which was its signature feature. The Styrofoam containers fell out of favor because of environmental concerns, and some stores were still serving up the cold ingredients warm anyways. Defying the whole purpose. The product was withdrawn and never made an appearance again. But thanks to the Internet, we can still cherish the memory of this commercial featuring Jason Alexander dancing to the virtues of the McDLT.
1. Taco Bell’s -XXL Chalupa
Taco Bell is another fast-food chain that tries very hard with different concepts to please their customers. In 2010, they came out with the XXL Chalupa. The XXL Chalupa was 57 % larger than the original Chalupa and contained more seasoned ground beef, crispy lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and nacho cheese sauce, topped with sour cream all rolled up in one big Chalupa flatbread. When Taco Bell announced the debut of its new Oversized Chalupa the customers were ecstatic, now they could have double their favorite meal. The chain generated an insane amount of hype among fans with a fake magazine type advertisement. The double-stuffed fried tortilla looked pretty awesome, and over the top. The problem arose when the customers ordered the meal but it did not look anything like the pictures. Apparently, the restaurant was not delivering twice the amount of meat filling and toppings as promised in their ads. Customers were very disappointed and took to the internet. The complaints were that they were being duped into paying more for almost the same thing as a regular chalupa. The XXL Chalupa was removed from the menu a few short months after it was launched. In 2011, they tried to bring back a version of the large Chalupa, calling it The Double, but it failed again. Taco Bell does not give up easily when they know they have a good thing; they keep trying to bring this one back from the dead.