10 Bizarre McDonald’s Menu Items That Disappeared
McDonald’s has launched some innovative and extremely successful menu items over the years. From the Big Mac to the chicken nuggets or the McFlurries, these signature items have had customers crawling back over and over again to get their fix. Just think about how many people freaked out when the restaurant changed their recipe for their beloved apple pie. But for every winning menu item, there are a few more that are now buried in the McDonald’s graveyard of failed menu items. Here are 10 Bizarre Food Items That Disappeared From McDonald’s Menus.
10. The Hula Burger
If you are one of those people that think putting pineapple on pizza is bad, you’re going to be appalled by this one. Back in the ’60s, before veganism was a huge thing, McDonald’s decided to offer a meatless option for the church-going folk who don’t eat meat on Fridays. As you may have guessed, Friday is a big day for McDonald’s because it’s the beginning of the regular weekend sales boom. Ray Kroc, the famous head honcho of the chain, saw that there was a lag in sales for restaurants located in areas with a large Catholic following, and this was the reason why. So, Kroc’s solution was the hula burger, which consisted of a slice of grilled pineapple with two slices of American cheese on a bun. At the time, Kroc was trying to compete with the new Filet-O-Fish that had just been launched by producing another Catholic Friday-friendly alternative. The Filet-O-Fish was invented by franchisee Lou Groen, who owned a McDonald’s in an area that was 87% Catholic. Kroc and Groen were in disagreement over whose idea would be more popular, so Kroc agreed to put both on his menu to see which one fared best. As you can imagine, the hula burger tanked, while the Filet-O-Fish was a massive hit. The Filet-O-Fish is still a popular McDonald’s menu item to date, and it often goes on sale during Lent, while the hula burger basically was wiped from existence. Now, the veggie burger hadn’t been invented yet, so there weren’t a lot of creative options for restaurants to offer people who didn’t have meat and grilled pineapple is a staple dessert for Brazilian steakhouses. Usually, it’s grilled with brown sugar, syrup, or other pieces of fruit to create a perfectly sweet treat. But this pineapple and cheese sandwich? No wonder it disappeared.
9. Onion Nuggets
Originally introduced in the ’70s alongside a chopped beefsteak sandwich, McDonald’s onion nuggets seemed to be a reasonable choice. They were made from little clumps of diced onions that were battered and deep-fried. They were basically the same as onion rings but in little bite-sized pieces. Who wouldn’t want that? Well, everyone, apparently. The onion nuggets disappeared from the menu sometime in the ’80s and were never to be seen again. There isn’t really one specific explanation as to why these onion nuggets didn’t last. It was probably bad news for those onion ring fans who pick out pieces of onion and just eat the batter. You know the type. Biting into a chunk of onion in a ball doesn’t have the same taste as the round, thin onion ring style we all know and love. Onion rings are also a bit challenging for fast food places to serve because they would need extra frier space. If they were fried in the same oil as McDonald’s signature fries, they’d likely change the flavor and since McDonald’s fries are extremely popular and beloved among Americans, the company probably doesn’t want to risk that for a product that may or may not sell. Another explanation could be that other restaurants, like Burger King, have already nailed down the onion ring game and even introduced it into some burger options. That’s some pretty tough competition. Interestingly enough, McDonald’s has never tried to introduce onion rings to its menu, something that is considered a pretty common fast food staple. Some locations in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong do apparently serve them, but they just aren’t in demand from the burger joint in the United States.
8. Chicken Fajitas
McDonald’s has tried many different types of cuisine styles with its menu items instead of just sticking to what it does best – American food. So it’s no surprise the company once dove into the world of Tex Mex cuisine. The McDonald’s chicken fajitas were released alongside the breakfast burrito in the early ’90s and landed on the popular dollar menu. They contained chicken, peppers, onions, and cheese and were served with a packet of either mild or hot Picante sauce. According to a 90’s commercial, McDonald’s fajitas tasted like, “a taste of Mexico, without the sunburn.” While a quick Google search shows that people did really enjoy this menu item but unfortunatley it disappeared and is no longer available. In 2013, a Change.org petition circulated begging McDonald’s to re-introduce the chicken fajitas. 58 people added their name to the petition, but that’s not quite enough to show any hint of consumer demand. At the time of the Change.org petition, the organizers claimed it was unfair that the fajitas were offered in Canada and not the United States, but it seems they’ve been removed from that menu as well. A Facebook page was also created around the same time with 800 followers dedicated to the cause. For now, customers who miss the spice of the fajitas will have to settle for options like the cajun chicken McWrap. Rumor has it there are some locations outside of North America that still have the fajitas on their menu, but there aren’t any more details on which ones have it.
7. McDonald’s Pizza
Another example of McDonald’s going outside of its element is when the company took a stab at their take on Italian cuisine. This came after the realization that it didn’t really offer a lot of options for dinner. So, back in the late ’80s, McDonald’s attempted to break into the pizza industry. After 4 pm, customers could try a personal-sized McDonald’s pizza. It was also not called McPizza, which is slightly disappointing. Regardless of what it was called, it was not successful. Most McDonald’s restaurants slowly began removing pizza from the menu, and by 2000, only one or two locations had held on to this option. Apparently, if you visit specific McDonald’s in Ohio and West Virginia, you can taste this pizza creation for yourself. But don’t expect it to be quick. One of the biggest issues with McDonald’s pizza was the fact that it took a long time to make. Since it was made to order, customers had to wait for the pizza to bake, which could take up to 10 minutes. On top of timing, there was also a cost factor. In order to make the pizzas, each restaurant had to install a new oven to bake the pizza crust, as well as expand the size of the drive-thru windows to fit the pizza box through them. Then there came the blowback from other pizza chains, who were angry that McDonald’s was trying to capitalize on the market they were dominating. Chains like Pizza Hut and Domino’s started publicly trashing the whole thing, urging customers not to “make a McStake” and choose pizza made from “McFrozen” dough. Eventually, the pizza was axed and McDonald’s went back to its original ways.
6. The McLean Deluxe
In 1991, long before health-conscious food items were a mainstream part of any menu, McDonald’s introduced the McLean Deluxe. The restaurant had started generating some negative feedback about its unhealthy options and decided to do something about it. That’s when the McLean Deluxe came in. This was a burger designed to contain significantly less fat than the regular patty, with claims that it was up to 91% fat-free. This level of fat-free was achieved by replacing fat with water and using carrageenan, a type of seaweed extract, as a binding agent to hold it together with the beef. So they ended up with a burger that was about 90% beef and 10% water/seaweed. The company had high hopes for this burger because no other fast-food chain had developed something like it. They envisioned a flock of health-conscious customers running to get their hands on a “healthy” new burger. Advertisements positioned it as a healthy breakthrough in the fast-food world. But while the McLean Deluxe did achieve the goals of being nearly fat-free, it didn’t win in the taste department. Customers complained that the burger was too dry and bland, and they certainly didn’t taste like the classic burgers. By 1993, it accounted for less than 2% of McDonald’s overall sales and eventually disappeared from the menu.
5. Fish McBites
Imagine chicken nuggets, but with fish instead. That was the vision when McDonald’s launched Fish McBites. Pieces of Alaska pollock fish were chopped into little bite-size portions, dipped in batter, and then deep-fried. They were served with a side of tartar sauce for dipping and were the first food item to be added to the Happy Meal menu in quite a long time. The fish itself was Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified, which meant it was sustainably souced. While the Fish McBites were originally introduced during Lent in 2013 as another Friday friendly option to go along with the Fillet-O-Fish, these fish just weren’t biting. It was always supposed to be a short-term item, but at the time, parents were pressuring the burger giant to add more seafood options to the kid’s menu. So if it had done well, it probably would have stayed on. But the company reported that sales were down during this time. There may be hope yet. Just like the long-lost onion nuggets, there is currently an active online petition to bring back Fish McNuggets. So far, there are 140 signatures.
These creations were released in the early ’90s and were basically a McDonald’s version of a hot pocket. The McStuffins were enclosed sandwiches with ingredients that were baked inside a loaf of baguette-style French bread. There were a few different flavor options for the middle, including pepperoni and cheese and chicken teriyaki. This doesn’t even sound that bad, despite being pretty out of character for McDonald’s. But, as with any other time the restaurant ventures out of its comfort zone, things just weren’t meant to be. Hot pockets are a staple food for many starving college students, but somehow these ones were not popular. Perhaps it was the silly name that turned people away or maybe it was just the fact that people would rather stay at home and microwave their own hot pockets. Regardless, it seems as though the world wasn’t ready for a McDonald’s version. This one disappeared from the menu within the year and was never thought about again.
3. The Arch Deluxe
Known as one of the biggest flops in McDonald’s history, the Arch Deluxe was an attempt at catering toward a more luxury, adult market. Released in 1996, this burger was a more gourmet-style burger that came with circular peppered bacon, cheese, two slices of lettuce, and a secret Arch sauce, all assembled on a gourmet potato sesame bun. It was labeled as a grown-up burger and came with a higher price tag. McDonald’s spent a ton of money on advertising for this burger, plunging as much as $200 million into marketing campaigns and development. That’s what makes this such a notable fail in the company’s history.Here’s the problem; McDonald’s has built a lot of its atmosphere and vibe on being a family-friendly restaurant with cheap options that appeal to both children and their parents. That was the whole point of introducing the McDonaldland culture with play places, Ronald McDonald and friends, and Happy Meals. Commercials for this adult burger even depicted children being disgusted by the taste, which obviously didn’t go over well with the parents.So, ultimately the targeting was all wrong as people were not going to McDonald’s looking for gourmet, mature options. Those customers certainly weren’t willing to pay more for those options either. McDonald’s ultimately decided to go back to its child-friendly ways and cut its losses.
Surprisingly, McDonald’s pizza wasn’t the company’s first attempt at entering the world of Italian dining options. Back in the late ’80s, McSpaghetti entered the scene, along with lasagna and fettuccine alfredo. The McSpaghetti was just as it sounds. It consisted of spaghetti with tomato sauce, meatballs, and a shredded cheese topping. Each pasta dish came with a side of mashed potatoes and vegetables. Whether the spaghetti tasted good or not was beyond the point. It didn’t sell because people were not interested in ordering Italian food from McDonald’s. When you want a nice bowl of pasta, you don’t think about fast food, and you certainly don’t think about going out of your way to pay for something that’s drenched in some type of Ragu sauce. This was just way too off-brand and some customers reported that it tasted like ketchup soaked noodles. Clearly, someone didn’t run this past their Nonna before launching the product. If you really want to try McSpaghetti for yourself, it’ll cost you a plane ticket to the Philippines, where it’s still on the menu. There, it usually comes served alongside a chicken leg or chicken nuggets.
1. The McHot Dog
This one isn’t really that surprising. McDonald’s is often used as a symbol of American food, so it’s no surprise they tried out America’s favorite barbecue option, the hot dog. Ray Kroc, the mega-mogul we mentioned before who was responsible for the Hula Burger, was known to hate hot dogs. He was open to the idea of the restaurant trying out other new foods but believed that hot dogs were well below the high standards McDonald’s had. In fact, he wrote in his autobiography that the whole idea of a bunch of mystery meat wrapped in some type of casing straight-up disgusted him. But after Kroc passed away, the company decided to give hot dogs a shot and they were added to the menu in the ’90s for a summer. They were brought back a few times after that but weren’t overly successful. It’s not hard to screw up a hot dog but the McDonald’s hot dog didn’t get a lot of popularity. People were already loving McDonald’s for its signature items, like the burgers and fries. They didn’t care about hot dogs. You can get hot dogs just about anywhere, from the ballpark to the grocery store, and they’ll taste about the same. Maybe that’s karma for going against Kroc’s wishes posthumously.