Over the years McDonald’s did some tinkering with their menu as one would do if one was a giant fast-food chain. Some of the tinkering was met with approval and that meant that the menu item was here to stay. Others, however, didn’t make it and soon disappeared from the public menu if not from the public memory. Here are more items we still remember fondly.
10. Cheesy Bacon Fries
The page on the McDonald’s US website that used to rave about cheesy bacon fries now asks you with a hidden surprise, “How did you get here?” One is supposed to feel embarrassed and admits that one had made a mistake. But we didn’t make any mistakes. Cheesy bacon fries used to be a thing and they still are in several countries across the world. The fact that McDonald’s has removed the item from their menu without even an explanation tells us that the cheesy thing wasn’t the success it was hoped to be. Which is fine. We get it. These things happen and you can’t always expect your food experts toiling away in the bowls of your food labs to churn out one culinary hit after another. There’s bound to be some duds. BusinessInsider reviewed McDonald’s cheesy bacon fries and came to the conclusion that it was a “gross, mucky mess of gobbed cheese.” That’s kind of harsh though. Considering that you’re getting three of the most popular fast food ingredients in one nifty box. To McDonald’s credit, they never intended the the item as a side dish. It was originally conceived and marketed as a snack. Something to munch on when the afternoon hunger hit. But somewhere along the way between the drawing table and the drive-thru window, something went wrong. You could blame it on the paper box that doesn’t do a good job of keeping the cheese from creating a surrealist painting all over the snack. Whatever the reason, it seems all that cheese-bacon-fries goodness wasn’t meant to be.
9. Jalapeño Double
Jalapeño Double was test marketed, found to be lacking, and quickly removed from the public menu just as fast as it had appeared. And while the US website still has a page for the now-defunct item, there’s no image there. Maybe McDonald’s is embarrassed about the Jalapeño Double that they want to erase it from everyone’s memory. But that’s neither fair to the sandwich nor to the customers who took to online forums and social media asking about whatever happened to their favorite sandwich. You see, even for their short and brief life and despite the fact that the Jalapeño Double was officially being test-marketed, it had managed to create a loyal fan base. So why, oh why, was it pulled off the menu even when it was selling like hot cakes? Or was it? The answer comes from deep inside the McDonald’s franchise itself. It seems the sandwich wasn’t the success story the online ravings make it to be. Some outlets would go whole days without selling a single sandwich. Add to that the fact that Jalapeño doesn’t have a long shelf life which meant that most of the sandwiches were being thrown in the trash by the end of the day instead of landing on paying customers’ trays and you start to get a clear idea of why the Jalapeño Double was an embarrassment to the company.
8. The McHot Dog
McDonald’s has a long history with hot dogs. In fact, hot dogs were the backbone of McDonald’s menu long before burgers became the staple of the franchise. So it’s only natural to dig out a few hot dog skeletons buried deep in the McDonald’s closet. And this one really rattles. See, once the fast food giant realized that people were all about burgers and it was long over for hot dogs the smart executives made the switch rather quickly. The decision not only ensured the survival of the franchise but helped make it the multi-billion dollars global brand it is today. However, some people were still harking back to the early beginnings of hot dogs and pickles. And those people wanted to reintroduce hot dogs to the menu just in case the customers were feeling just as nostalgic as the top executives of the franchise. Enter the McHot Dog. The retro sandwich made its entrance with a lot of marketing fanfare in the 1980s. And it had tried to stay true to its origins. It was a hot dog in a bun with some mustard and ketchup. Just the way hot dogs have been served for decades throughout the 20th century. But either the unimaginative sandwich had failed to entice the customers or people were too attached to burgers and weren’t willing to let go, the result was the demise of the McHot Dog after clinging on to its place on the menu for over 10 years.
7. Fish McBites
For a while now McDonald’s has been seeing its sales decline or remain flat at best. And just like every living thing, a flat line is never a good sign. So to bring some life back to sales the marketing folks decided to bring in the heavy guns. And be heavy guns we mean introduce a single new item to the Happy Meal menu. Something that hasn’t been done for a decade. So you’d think that for 10 years they have been working hard on a secret menu item that would take the fast food market by a storm. Well, it turns out that that secret weapon was the humble Fish McBites. It coincided with Lent and cautiously McDonald’s added the new item as a seasonal side dish. Now you might be wondering how a seasonal item would revitalize sales and ignite the appetites of the weary customers. And it’s a good question. Because the answer, of course, is that it wouldn’t. Foodies everywhere just had a lukewarm response at best to the fishy bites while the general public just ignored it. And since it didn’t help sales much if at all, the item was briskly removed from the menu and the marketing department hoped that nobody would notice. Some people did notice though and they kept asking about the fishy nuggets from time to time.
The McRib had two appearances on the public menu and both of them were brief. In 1980 the pork sandwich was test-marketed. The results were encouraging enough to make it to the official menu in 1981. But right from the start, there was something off about it. Maybe it was the oblong slab of pork with the barbecue sauce. Even back in the ‘80s where appetites were easier to satisfy and customers were less finicky, the McRib just couldn’t cut the mustard, so to speak. As sales kept declining the plug was pulled on the pork sandwich in 1985. At the time it was stated that pork is just not a big hit in the US market. Some customers expressed their dissatisfaction and demanded the return of their favorite sandwich. So in 1989, the McRib returned with a whole new sandwich. Only it was just the same old slab of boneless pork smothered with barbecue sauce, onions, and pickles stuffed in a roll. This time it was offered as a promotion and it stayed on and off until 2005. The McRib remains a staple of the public menu in countries like Germany where it has been a popular item. But in the US its journey finally came to an abrupt end after a McRib Farewell Tour. Which is a fitting ending to a sandwich that couldn’t capture the spirit of the times.
5. Chicken Fajita
Chicken Fajita has loyal customers in the American market who still carry fond memories about it. Some went even so far as to start campaigns on social media to bring it back. One such campaign on change.com after pointing out that the item is still available in Canada but not the US declares that such “type of regional menu discrimination is unfair to Americans who also deserve these ‘lighter choices’, or at least a chicken fajita.” And that’s the voice of fans who miss their chicken fajita so bad they can’t imagine their life without it. And ignoring that part about geopolitical envy since Canadians enjoy something that’s not available in the US, we can only empathize with these sentiments. Another campaign on Facebook was met with the same fate. It seems that chicken fajita has left the US for good. Chicken fajita was on the dollar menu and was just as yummy as it sounded. They contained chicken, cheese, onions, green and red bell peppers all rolled in a flour tortilla. You could also request packets of Picante sauce with it and enjoy a favorable and yummy meal. But for some reason, the sandwich wasn’t a huge success and around 2013 it was finally retired to the chagrin of at least 50 signees of the petition to bring it back.
4. McLean Deluxe
It was the 1990s. The ‘80s were over and simple fatty meals were a thing of the past. Customers were starting to question what their sandwiches were stuffed with and whether it was healthy to eat fried stuff day in day out and have their hearts pay the price. McDonald’s couldn’t ignore the rising murmurs of discontent any longer. What with the declining sales and the other fast food chains offering healthy alternatives. So McDonald’s came up with their own version of healthy sandwiches. The McLean. Touted as having 91% less fat than a normal sandwich. And that doesn’t sound bad at all. For years having a burger with so little fat was something foodies only had in their dreams. But now it was a reality at long last. And the secret? Well, you’d better not ask. Because you might not like the answer. But if you must know then it’s the seaweed which makes the burger leaner and less fatty. Without fat how would you make the burger tasty? Well, beef flavors were used to make the sandwich more appealing. As you can imagine a lot of fiddling went on behind the scenes and the end product wasn’t as tasty as anybody had hoped including the health conscious advocates. Which is why after one year the whole idea was buried deep in the basement never to be talked about again.
3. Hot & Spicy McChicken
The idea behind the Hot & Spicy McChicken was simple. Get a toasted wheat bun, slice it open and stuff it with a breaded chicken patty, some lettuce, and mayonnaise. Voila. Simple and tasty with a dash of fresh veggies to satisfy those people worried about eating fried chicken every day. What could go wrong? Well, a lot actually. Lack of flavors and the chicken patty was a little dry. So after disappointing sales, it was pulled off. Chicken McNuggets replaced it and were a huge success right from the get-go. End of story, right? Wrong. A few years later and prompted by the huge popularity of the nuggets, the McChicken was given a second chance in 1988. But after 8 turbulent years, it was finally decided that this item wasn’t really what customers were looking for in the US. Again it was replaced with the Crispy Chicken Deluxe which fared better among the customers.
2. Brownie Melts
A blast from the not-so-distant past. Brownie Melts were a delicious treat that both children and adults adored. Now to be fair we need to add hastily that they were a bit of an acquired taste. They were brownies dunked in hot chocolate and drizzled with icing. Some people swore by them while others thought they were too sweet and messy. Well, to each his or her own, we say. But the fact remains that they were quite popular for some time on the menu until McDonald’s decided they weren’t going to sell them anymore. That was in 2010. But you could tell the decision created seismic shifts in the culinary world as customers looked around frantically for something to fill the sugary hole in their diet.
1. Philly Cheesesteak
The Philly Cheesesteak is a popular sandwich so when McDonald’s decided to “borrow” the concept and create its own fast food version fans of the restaurant were quite excited. Only as we have seen over and over again that not all good ideas translate into compelling products. In fact, all the items on this list prove that you can’t trust a concept until millions of customers have come back to buy it. And just because the Philly Cheesesteak is loved by a lot of people doesn’t mean that the fast food customers would love it too. McDonald’s found that out the hard way. The outcry of the customers could be heard in almost every outlet where the bad copy of the original thing was sold. People called it every name they could think of. And they had every right to be disappointed. The McPhilly Cheesesteak was nothing like the original one. It was messy and pricey too. It still had a few things going for it like it had fewer calories than the Big Mac. But that didn’t save its fall from grace and like many other items on this list it was swiftly swept under the carpet and never mentioned in the company’s meeting rooms ever again.