Fast food items have the ability to become major hits, like the Big Mac or the Baconator. Every once in a while, one of those gems comes along and changes the game for plenty of other restaurants, who then scramble to find their own competing version. These beloved items aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and have become so well known and beloved that people basically riot in the streets when the recipe is changed. However, sometimes the choices fast-food restaurants make are more flopper than Whopper. We’re talking about those cringe-worthy menu items that make you wonder, “Who in their right mind would order this?” Here are some of those very epic fails we can’t forget about, even if we try.
10. Long John Silver’s Big Catch Meal
This seafood monstrosity was added to the Long John Silver’s menu in 2013. It contained a 7.5-ounce piece of haddock served with a pile of onion rings and a side of hush puppies. At first, it seemed like the most epic meal for anyone who loves their fish and chips. Long John Silver’s described the meal as “the largest fish we have ever offered” and claimed it was a game-changer. As it turns out, it was mostly a game-changer for the way they fry their foods. The Big Catch Meal was launched in May and was discontinued by August of that same year due to a significant backlash. It turns out that Long John Silver’s was also serving up a shockingly unhealthy amount of calories and fat. In total, it contained about 1,320 calories, 3,700 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of saturated fat, and 33 grams of trans fat. For comparison, it’s recommended that the average person eat no more than two grams of trans fat per day. That means that the Big Catch Meal contained more trans fats than the average person should eat in two entire weeks. A lot of this was attributed to the fact that these items were cooked up in a big vat of partially hydrogenated frying oil, which has been linked to heart disease, obesity, and other damaging health issues. By the end of 2013, after this backlash, Long John Silver’s agreed to look into new oil for their fryers that would replace hydrogenated oil in their restaurants. This meal was actually panned as the worst restaurant meal in America by the Center For Science in the Public Interest. In fact, researchers actually discovered that there was only around four ounces of actual fish, and the batter accounted for at least three ounces. Now, fish on its own is a healthy source of protein. Smothered in batter, fat, and grease – that’s another story.
9. Pizza Hut’s “Gourmet” Rebrand
Pizza Hut is basically known for serving greasy, cheesy pizza. But in 2014, after declining sales, they decided they wanted to appeal to foodie millennials and updated their menu to include new artisan options. They dubbed this rebrand Flavor of Now. Some of these artisan toppings included honey sriracha sauce, Peruvian cherry peppers, and asiago crust. The company even reached out to some of the more trendy food trucks in New York City to help suggest menu flavors and items that would appeal to the hip foodies out there. This came a few years after Domino’s pulled a similar style of rebranding focusing on better quality food items and recipes. However, the whole thing was a flop. At the end of May 2014, the CEO of Pizza Hut’s parent company, Yum! Brands Inc., admitted at a conference in New York City that the rebrand was not working. In fact, his exact words were, “We obviously have not been happy with the performance of the relaunch of Pizza Hut.” What was once referred to as the biggest rebrand in the company’s history was now the biggest flop they’d seen, at least in a long time. It turns out that they neglected one major thing – their target audience just wanted cheap, greasy pizza. And, as it turns out, millennials aren’t just one sweeping population of people with the exact same specific taste across the board. Imagine that. Within a year, Pizza Hut ended up making a complete reverse back to their original menu.
8. McDonald’s Pizza
When you think of McDonald’s, you generally think about a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder, one of those greasy fast food burgers that hit the spot when you’re craving something cheap. One of the food items you don’t think about is pizza. But in the late 1980s, that’s what they wanted you to think about. Enter McDonald’s Pizza. With the rise of pizza chains at this time, the company decided it wanted to tap into this corner of the dinner food market and introduced its own pizza. By the early 1990s, they implemented it in a portion of their Canadian and American locations. However, there were a lot of complications that came with this decision. First, there was an equipment issue. The McDonald’s pizza required a new oven to cook, which was designed to quickly cook pizza dough from frozen within six minutes. It meant that every single restaurant location would have to obtain a new oven and find room for it in their kitchen. Next, there was a drive-thru issue. The boxes designed for the pizza didn’t fit through the window, which meant that they had to be expanded. That called for more renovations. The pizza also took a total of 11 minutes to cook and prepare, which is way too long to keep up with drive-thru times. People frequently had to pull over and wait a long time for their pizzas. Not only was this a flop, but it angered many popular pizza chains and prompted them to create smear campaign-style ads against McDonald’s, calling on the company’s cooked-from-frozen style. Overall, not a success. However, rumor has it that if you go to one of two locations in all of the United States (one in West Virginia and one in Ohio) you can try a McDonald’s pizza in the flesh.
7. Burger King’s Halloween Whopper
In 2015, Burger King was consumed by the Halloween spirit. This happens to the best of us, but for Burger King, it resulted in the Halloween Whopper being added to the menu. It was your average Whopper, but it was served on a spooky black bun. To achieve the dark hue, the buns were infused with A.1 Steak Sauce. The burger itself also came in a cute, mummy-themed wrapper as an added bonus. It turns out that the burger was more nightmare-inducing than anticipated. Customers began to report that the black whopper was turning their poop green. And not just any green – neon green. The reason for this was the dye in the sauce. However, according to some nutritionists, a typical serving of A.1 Steak Sauce doesn’t contain enough dye to have this effect. The consensus was that Burger King was clearly using a diluted, concentrated version in their buns. Now, the green poop wasn’t really a health hazard. It just came as more of a shock to people who were not mentally prepared for the experience. No fast food restaurant really wants to leave a green poop legacy behind.
6. Domino’s Oreo Dessert Pizza
2007 was an interesting year. The iPhone was launched, the Red Sox won the World Series, and for $3.99, you could order a giant pizza-sized cookie from Domino’s. It was served as an addition with any purchase. The Oreo Dessert Pizza consisted of a warm giant chocolate chip cookie slathered in Oreos and super sweet, sticky vanilla syrup. While this seems like a delicious option, the general public didn’t really agree. Most people agreed that this concoction was way too sweet, and also too chewy. To call a cookie too chewy generally means there’s a serious issue going on. According to some reviews, the cookie portion was also pretty bland. There is also the fact that no one really wants to eat just an Oreo cookie. It’s that signature creamy filling that we really care about, so when you take it out of the equation, it’s not the same. Overall, it was unappealing and didn’t last very long on the menu. While Domino’s has developed a substantial reputation for affordable pizza delivery over the years, it has never really been known for its desserts. It seems as though they’ve taken the hint. After trying to launch other types of dessert pizzas over the years, the company has seemingly decided to stick with brownies and lava cake for the time being.
5. McDonald’s Spaghetti
You could probably make a separate list just for the fast-food fails McDonald’s has created. Among them would be the McSpaghetti meal. In the 1970s, McDonald’s decided to develop McSpaghetti. The dish was long spaghetti noodles covered in marinara sauce, topped with shredded cheese, and served in a cardboard container. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, McDonald’s decided to give it another try. They launched a McSpaghetti in some locations across the United States, mostly the south. This time, they tried a few varieties, including lasagna and fettuccine alfredo. These products were launched in those locations to be tested over the course of a year. But, like the McPizza, people do not go to McDonald’s for Italian food. It turns out that customers just weren’t interested in getting spaghetti from the same place they could get a Big Mac. This item was taken off the menu pretty quickly because the demand just wasn’t there. There’s just something about fast food pasta that’s been sitting under a heat lamp or in a warming container that isn’t the same as the homecooked version. In fact, many Italians would probably be offended this even happened in the first place. McDonald’s did try to bring back their McSpaghetti in other locations around the world. You can try it yourself, but you have to go to the Philippines to get it. Some locations there currently serve McSpaghetti, and you can even order it with a fried chicken leg on the side.
4. Burger King’s Satisfries
In 2013, Burger King decided they needed to cater to a more health-conscious audience in Canada and the United States. Most restaurants do this by adding side salad options, apple slices for kids’ meals, or lower-calorie menu items like grilled chicken. However, Burger King decided that the best way to do this was to release “healthier” fries. Now, you may be wondering just how a french fry could possibly be healthy. It turns out, it can’t be. The Burger King Satisfries were made with a different type of batter that was designed to absorb less of the frying oil. This way, they wouldn’t contain as much fat as regular fries. The result were fries that contained 40% less fat and 30% fewer calories than their regular fries. They also came with a higher price tag than the regular fries. They were, in reality, only four grams less in fat than the regular fries and still contained 270 calories in a small serving, only about 70 calories less than regular fries. In fact, a small french fry order from McDonald’s actually has fewer calories (230 in total) because the serving is smaller. And the name “Satisfries” wasn’t really spot on, either. As it turns out, they were not comparable. According to some reports, many customers started calling them “Saddest Fries.” Let’s face it. When you’re hungry for french fries, you don’t care about calorie content because you know you’re not making a healthy choice, to begin with. For example, even though McDonald’s has released a lot of “healthier” options, their biggest sellers are still french fries and burgers. Burger King’s top seller is still the Whopper. Most people who are on a healthy diet don’t stop into Burger King in the first place. Within a year, Burger King started discontinuing the Satisfries from their menu and went back to the good old greasy fries people know and love. What’s really funny is that at the same time they discontinued the Satisfries, they relaunched their chicken fries. Quite the opposite to a focus on healthy options.
3. Dairy Queen’s Breeze
Just like Burger King, Dairy Queen also decided to try to appeal to more health-conscious customers. However, they did this over a decade before Burger King got on the healthy bandwagon. The problem was similar, though – people go to DQ for a sweet, sugary treat and not something healthy. In 1990, Dairy Queen launched the Breeze. It was basically a Blizzard made from frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. It lasted about a decade before the company finally pulled the plug and discontinued it. The problem was that it just didn’t sell. Some employees actually stated that the frozen yogurt supply in the store would often go bad or expire before they could sell any of it. One of the issues could be that a frozen yogurt-based Blizzard still isn’t actually healthy. Especially when you mix in a bunch of candies and chocolates that completely defeat the purpose of a healthier base. It was technically lower in calories than a regular Blizzard, but still had a ton of them when the mix-ins were added. Or, perhaps the problem is that Dairy Queen was too early in their thinking. Now, frozen yogurt chains are incredibly popular and people enjoy turning to this alternative as a healthier way to enjoy a cool dessert.
2. Taco Bell’s Seafood Salad
During the 1980s, the restaurant chain best associated with stoners and post-bar runs decided to try to invent a “healthy” seafood item to compete with the successful Fillet-o-Fish at McDonald’s. In this vintage commercial for the concoction, you can clearly see that they are trashing the competition by implying that ordering fish at a fast-food chain isn’t real fish. Ironic, coming from a chain that is constantly under scrutiny for the quality of its beef. Now, the more logical solution to compete with the seafood market would have just been to introduce fish tacos. However, Taco Bell decided they were going to do something completely different and decided on a salad instead. The Taco Bell seafood salad contained a mixture of typical salad vegetables, topped with shrimp, whitefish, and snow crab. Extra toppings also included cheese and olives. And, in Taco Bell style, the whole thing was served inside an edible taco shell bowl. Does anyone really want seafood when they go to Taco Bell? It turns out the answer is “no,” because this item was discontinued. Some rumors also say that Taco Bell’s decision to pull the seafood salad was also influenced by the fact that there were numerous reports of food poisoning.
1. Wendy’s Superbar
When you think of a salad bar and buffet-style experience, you don’t typically think about Wendy’s. But back in the ’80s and ’90s, they gave it a go with their Superbar. Basically, this was a big self-serve buffet bar that featured salads, fruit, Mexican food, and pasta. The pasta section included two types of pasta with sauce options and garlic bread made from hamburger buns. In the Mexican section were nachos, refried beans, and a build-your-own taco bar. Then, dessert was a choice between chocolate or vanilla pudding. The Superbar costs about $2.99 (about $5.40 today after inflation) per person, which if you ask us is a steal. And a lot of other people thought so, too. In fact, so many people loved the idea that Wendy’s really couldn’t keep up with running a buffet and still preparing their regular orders. They now had to do their usual job, with the added responsibilities of cleaning, restocking, and preparing foods for the Superbar. Not to mention it’s probably not very profitable to be charging that little when you know that people are going back for as many helpings as they can and abusing that free refill policy. By 1998, the Superbar was discontinued, while some locations still carried it until 2006.