The 10 Biggest Flops in Burger King History
Offer most people a Whopper and they will respond with an overwhelming “YES Please!” Burger King definitely has some rabid fans and their signature burger is a big reason why. But not everything that Burger King has touched has turned deserved a crown. The chain has released plenty of items into the world only to have the world tell them to, please take them away. These are the marbles even the Hungry, Hungry Hippos didn’t want to eat – the 10 biggest flops in Burger King history.
10. The Halloween Whopper
This one wasn’t actually a bad idea (unlike some other ones on this list). To celebrate the 2015 Halloween season Burger King had the idea to create a Halloween Whopper. And what that entailed was just taking a Whopper and dying the bun black. No, it wasn’t going to scare anyone, but it did fit the theme and it even looked pretty cool. However, the problem wasn’t with the coloring used in the buns going into people, but instead with what color was coming out of them. This next part might not be appropriate for the squeamish among you… customers who tried the black-bun Whopper and then went to the bathroom noticed that their number 2s were looking very green. It wasn’t long before the social media toilet overflowed with reports of the green discharge and the color of the burger was no longer what everyone was talking about. Expect in the context of why would a black bun be turning people’s poop green? The story reached such a level that even major news outlets were running stories about it and talking to doctors about why the color-change was happening. Spoiler Alert: It has to do with the dyes that Burger King already puts in their buns and how those react with the black dye. This then interacts with your bile to reach the final destination looking green. Needless to say Burger King didn’t bring back the Halloween Whopper again the following year.
9. Flame-Broiled Meatloaf
Just because their flame-broiled burgers are delicious doesn’t mean that Burger King can flame-broil anything and people will like it. And proof of that is the flame-broiled meatloaf. While there is a good chance most folks don’t even remember this early-90s concoction, most people who were alive back then, and owned a television set, will probably remember the commercials. Remember Dan Cortese? Well, the former MTV VJ was the star of one of the ads they ran. In the commercial Cortese has a baseball cap on backwards and is yelling right into the camera, “Wendy’s doesn’t have it! McDonald’s doesn’t have it!” This is sure to bring back some pop culture memories for some of you. The problem was that, for some reason, people didn’t want a meatloaf sandwich – flame-broiled or not. Meatloaf is a hard sell. While there are some hipster foodie places doing elevated meatloaf these days, back in the 90s it was still the boring meal mom made every Sunday. The chain did everything they could think of to make the sandwich sound cool, but people weren’t buying it – literally! So, as it turns out, Wendy’s and McDonald’s were probably pretty happy that they, “didn’t have it!”
8. The Super Seven Incher
Sometimes it isn’t the food item itself that causes it to fail. Sometimes it’s the ad-campaign that’s the reason an item is taken off the menu – as was the case with Burger King’s Super Seven Incher in 2009. We’ll give you three seconds to guess what the problem was? And don’t worry about trying to come up with your own double-entendre innuendos because Burger King already did it for you in the marketing of this big burger. So, the burger itself, as the name suggests, was a long burger on a seven inch bun. And sure they could have called it the mega-whopper, the whopping-whopper, the burger-grande, or any number of other things. But they went with the Super Seven Incher and the ad campaign that followed saw posters featuring a woman’s head in profile with her mouth wide open and the burger a few inches from her face. And they nailed the point home with the tagline: It’ll Blow Your Mind Away. And there was even more copy telling consumers that the burger would “fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame grilled.” They say that sex sells, but not in this case. When it came to this ad campaign, the public backlash was pretty harsh and the chain pulled not only the ads, but the sandwich as well.
As the general public has become more concerned with eating healthy, fast food chains have all jumped on the bandwagon over the last couple decades, trying to come up with menu items to attract the health-conscious among us. One such attempt was the Satisfries from Burger King. These “healthy” french fries were said to have 40% less fat and 30% fewer calories than regular french fries. And while we applaud the wonderful, punny word-combo name, the public didn’t applaud the fries themselves. Burger King has never really been known for their french fries in general, but with 40% less fat and 30% less calories there was no way these fries were going to taste as good as regular fries. However, there were probably bigger factors at play with this failure. While the idea of marketing some food items to healthy eaters makes sense, the problem is that most healthy eaters aren’t going to Burger King to begin with. As one executive at a research company put it, “French fries are an indulgence, just like ice cream. You don’t eat them if you’re worried about your diet.” It’s really too bad, because honestly, that name – Satisfries – is gold!
6. The Enormous Omelette Sandwich
In 2005 Burger King claimed that they were getting a lot of feedback from consumers about wanting something more filling for breakfast. Well, if it was more filling they wanted, Burger King definitely delivered on that request with the enormous omelette sandwich. This offering consisted of a two-egg omelet, a large sausage patty, three strips of bacon and cheese – and all of this was served on a toasted hoagie roll! So, there is no doubt that it was going to fill you up. The problem was that it was filling you up with 730 calories (the Whopper only has 700), 47 grams of fat and more than your daily recommended amount of sodium. While the sandwich did make its way into plenty of “I ate that…” review videos, the enormous sandwich just wasn’t a hit with the general public. At least not in the United States, where it was gone from the menu within a year. Not in Canada though. Be it the climate, the love of hockey, or some other reason, America’s neighbors to the north can still get themselves an Enormous Omelette Sandwich.
5. Shake ‘Em Up Fries
The idea for Shake ‘Em Up fries was pretty simple. Customers would get a bag of regular Burger King Fries and a “cheesy flavor blast” packet. All you had to do was empty the packet into the bag then seal the bag, give it a big shake and voila! You could now chow down on some – now orange – cheesy flavored french fries. It actually sounds pretty fun and a perfect opportunity for a James Bond-themed commercial, “I’ll have some french fries – shaken, not stirred.” Unfortunately, for some reason the fries never really caught on and Burger King took them off the menu before they could get to any Bond-esque marketing campaigns. While the Shake ‘Em Up Fries failed with Burger King customers back in 2002, the idea didn’t die there. 13 years later it was McDonald’s testing out their version of seasoned fries in a bag. The home of the Big Mac tested the idea in a California franchise back in 2015 and by all reports it was pretty much the exact same concept as what Burger King had tried at the turn of the century – bag of fries, season packet, shake, eat! But, just like it did 13 years prior, the concept didn’t catch on with consumers – or at least that is what we can assume based on the fact that after the testing, the Golden Arches never introduced them nationally.
4. Grilled Hot Dogs
Hamburgers and Hot Dogs go together like chocolate and peanut butter, like Ross and Rachel, like wine and cheese…like…you get the picture. Although, it seems like every time one of the big fast food burger players tries to introduce hot dogs to their menu, they end up like Ross and Rachel when they’re “on a break.” Ok not exactly since the hot dog just gets taken off the menu, and the burger doesn’t go and sleep with the girl from the copy place. And that is how it went back in 2016 when Burger King decided it was time for them to try and do the hot dog thing. And again, it would seem to make sense. They have the grills and people have been grilling hot dogs in their backyard since backyards were invented. But it just didn’t work. Even with Snoop Dogg as one of the spokesmen for the launch, or the “Grilled Dogs Training Ambassador” as he was billed in the ads, wherein he would train employees on how to properly prepare a hot dog. Maybe Burger King thought that enough time had passed since McDonald’s had tried, and failed, introducing their hot dogs back in the 1990s. Or maybe they thought that the grill would absolutely make the difference. Whatever they thought, they were wrong and once again the people voted with their wallets, and said they really didn’t want hot dogs.
The Yumbo is a ham and cheese sandwich – and while that sounds kinda boring, this one might be the most impressive item on this list in that it actually failed twice! The Yumbo was first introduced in 1974 and didn’t spend too long on the BK menu before getting the axe. Then 30 years later, in 2014, Burger King decided it was a good time to bring the Yumbo back. Which they did, with a retro, nostalgic, 1970s-themed ad campaign. Why they thought this basic, ham and cheese sandwich would be a hit this time around, only the BK King knows. But needless to say…. It wasn’t! It didn’t “bring back memories for loyal guests” as Burger King had said it would in a statement at the time. And it wasn’t long before, once again, the Yumbo was off the menu. Maybe it just wasn’t as yummy as the name wants you to believe. And not only did it fail to bring back many fond memories for customers, but there was even a rumor that circulated claiming that there never was a Yumbo in the 1970s, and that Burger King was just trying to create fake nostalgia. People on social media had a field day with this conspiracy theory as one user posted, “I have vague, misty memories of the 70’s BurgerKing, and I don’t remember anything called a Yumbo I think you’re full of it” Well, regardless of people’s “vague memories” the claims that the sandwich never existed weren’t true. There really was a Burger King Yumbo in the 1970s. However, the fact that the rumor gained as much traction as it did is evidence that Burger King made a huge misjudgment on the nostalgic value of this ham and cheese sandwich. And really?! Who would ever really get all nostalgic over a ham and cheese sandwich? Now, maybe if it were a sandwich with ham, cheese and a one hundred dollar bill, we may all feel differently.
2. The Pizza Burger
This might be the most crazy sounding item on this list – as well as the one we would most want to try. Get a load of this: A huge hamburger topped with pizza toppings (marinara sauce, mozzarella, pesto and pepperoni) on a nine and a half inch sesame seed bun. Then the whole thing is cut into triangle-shaped sections (just like a pizza would be). The mega-meal was cut into six sections and was meant to be shared among six people. Burger King introduced this monstrous meal back in 2010 in it’s New York City locations only. But as ridiculous, and we must admit delicious, as it sounds, the Pizza Burger just never caught on. Maybe it was the need to have a group of people to share it with, or the fact that if you didn’t want to share it you would be consuming 2500 calories if you were to eat the whole thing yourself (not including any soda and fries you got with it). When you do the math, it means that if you and two friends went in on the Pizza Burger (that’s two “slices” each – which doesn’t sound so crazy) that’s over 800 calories right there – which is over 100 more calories than a Whopper. Still sounds good though.
1. Turkey Burger
Burger King appears to have been talking out both sides of their mouth for about a 10 year period between 2005 and 2015. While on the one hand, it was during this period that they introduced a couple of their most monstrous, calorie-heavy offerings (The Pizza Burger and the Enormous Omelette Sandwich). It was also during this same time frame that they brought us the “healthy-ish” Satisfies and the turkey burger. The turkey burger was introduced in 2013 and, as Burger King’s head of global innovation told CBS News back then, “Turkey burgers as a category is growing pretty rapidly in the restaurant space.” That might have been true at the time, but in the Burger King restaurant space, the turkey burger made a quick exit from the menu. Turkey burger offerings weren’t something new. They had been introduced by competitors such as Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr and had found success at both chains. But for one reason or another Burger King customers weren’t as enamored. And as it turns out, the “health” factor might not have been as relevant as one would assume. The turkey burger from Burger King came in at 530 calories, which is just over 100 less than the Whopper and 60 more than the chain’s grilled chicken sandwich offering.