Top 10 Failed McDonald’s Products (Part 2)
“I’m Lovin’ It” is a popular McDonald’s slogan that sums up the way millions of customers feel about the fast food chain. But this doesn’t mean McDonald’s never falls on its face. Over the years, the chain has offered products that have fallen hard and leave us scratching our heads. So let’s check out more of the top 10 failed McDonald’s products.
10. McCrab cake sandwich
McDonald’s tried a McLobster Roll and that didn’t go very well, so the fast food chain decided to double down with the introduction of its McCrab cake sandwich. In 2003 McDonald’s tested this new sandwich in 35 restaurants along the Eastern seaboard stretching through Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. A similar crab based sandwich was tried in limited areas in 2001 and 2002. The company supposedly learned from these trials when it introduced the 2003 version. Unfortunately McDonald’s version of the crabby patty didn’t go over any better than the previous version did. Between the lobster roll and the crab cake sandwich It’s long past the time the fast food chain should have resigned itself to the fact that it should stick to the Filet-O-Fish sandwich, which has been popular for decades. As a burger and french fry joint, also serving a good fish sandwich is rare. But instead of being satisfied with that, Mickey D’s seemed to go out of its way to fail. Local Baltimore media talked to an owner of a local McDonald’s store who described the crab sandwich as an improvement over the earlier iterations, but he also had a vested interest in customers buying the sandwiches. It should not have been surprising to the fast food chain that a crab sandwich would fail to compete in coastal areas where high quality seafood was abundant.
9. The Angus Burger
McDonald’s has become a very successful business selling billions of decent hamburgers at reasonable prices. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” is a piece of wisdom sometimes ignored by successful enterprises. McDonald’s charged ahead in 2006 with its introduction of the Angus Burger, the first big chain to offer a genuine Angus beef patty. Angus beef comes from a breed of cows raised in Scotland. However, because McDonald’s is a global corporation, you didn’t have to travel to the Scottish highlands to get a taste of this premium beef. The fast food chain test marketed its Angus burger in several American markets including Chicago and upstate New York. It probably tastes good, perhaps even better than McDonald’s standard beef patties. So isn’t that a problem? Why go out of your way to point out to your customers that the hamburgers they’ve been eating regularly were mediocre all along? The Angus Burger was made from premium Scottish beef so were customers supposed to demand Angus beef for all the hamburgers? If not why not? The fast food chain could in theory replace its standard beef patties with Angus patties, but this would inevitably raise the prices of McDonald’s burgers and destroy its ability to compete successfully in the competitive fast food market. In the end, there was no place for such a high-end burger with high-end prices.
8. The Big N’ Tasty – Down and Out
Big N’ Tasty might be an appropriate description of this particular hamburger introduced by McDonald’s in 1997. It was one of several burgers the fast food chain developed to compete with Burger King’s flagship sandwich, the Whopper. More than a decade before the Big N’ Tasty was launched, McDonald’s went head to head with the Whopper with the McDLT, which was introduced in 1984. This was the sandwich that was distinguished by the unique double packaging that allowed the hot patty and the cold toppings to be separate until the customer put the two sides together. The Big N’ Tasty was test marketed in California markets and was slowly rolled out to a national market in 2000. During the test market phase this sandwich was marketed as the Big Xtra on the East coast of the U.S. The Big N’ Tasty burger became one of the key items on McDonald’s dollar menu when it was first introduced, but in 2003 it was removed from the dollar menu where the Double Cheeseburger took its place. After a little more than a decade on the menu, the Big N’ Tasty was removed, although it does continue to be served at McDonald’s locations on some U.S. military bases. Several variations of this failed burger were introduced for limited runs including the McOz, the Boss and the Big Tasty Bacon, but these did’t fare much better than the Big N’ Tasty.
7. That’s a McWrap
McDonald’s is of course famous for its hamburgers and fries and when it has branched out into serving chicken, the results have been decidedly mixed. The fast food chain can definitely point to the Chicken McNugget as a success story, but we, in turn, can point to the McWraps as a product that failed. Chicken placed in a flour tortilla was supposed to be aimed at younger, supposedly more health conscious customers who may have been reluctant to embrace the heavier burgers and fries. Premium Mcwraps were introduced in 2013 and were touted as “Subway busters” – a reference to the popular sandwich chain that is a competitor of McDonald’s. However, McDonald’s apparently over estimated millennials’ desire for lighter fare at the fast food chain and had to eat its words. By 2016 McWraps were being phased out. Some of the McWraps were relatively healthy and featured grilled chicken and some vegetables, but you would have had to be wary of any creamy sauces. The fried chicken McWrap didn’t make any sense; customers might as well have ordered the McNuggets. McDonald’s, of all corporations, should have known that its customers don’t frequent its restaurants searching out healthier options because there are plenty of other restaurants for that.
6. Chopped Beefsteak Sandwich
McDonald’s, like all businesses, want its customers to like their products and hopefully return again and again to enjoy them. Over the years the fast food chain has been pretty good at this, so its failures are that much more noticeable. The Chopped Beefsteak Sandwich seems like it should have been a winner. This sandwich was introduced to customers in 1979 as a speciality sandwich and McDonald’s, no doubt, had high hopes for its success. It consisted of an elongated beef patty that sat on a hoagie style bun and was topped with onions and steak sauce. Interestingly, this sandwich was sold with fried onion nuggets instead of french fries and was only sold between 4:00 and 9:00 pm. Presumably the Chopped Beefsteak Sandwich was meant to inject some class into a fast food chain largely thought of at the time as a children’s restaurant. Although customer satisfaction with this sandwich was very high, with some apparently saying it was the best best McDonald’s sandwich they’d ever had, it never got out of the test phase. Price was likely a major reason for this. At a time when the standard burger cost only 40 cents, the Chopped Beefsteak cost a relatively pricey $1.29. Regardless of the price it’s unfortunate that a highly regarded sandwich wasn’t able to make it into the regular McDonald’s line up. Even though it failed in 1979 perhaps the time is right for McDonald’s to bring this one back for another try. They should bring back the fried onion nuggets too and see what happens.
5. McStuffin it
You might not know what a McDonald’s McStuffin is, as opposed to a McMuffin, but you might know what a Hot Pocket is: a McStuffin is the McDonald’s version of a Hot Pocket. You could also think of them as a hamburger chain’s misguided attempt to offer its customers a fast food take on a calzone. This 1993 concoction featured a french bread shell filled with pepperoni and melted cheese. Perhaps it was predictable to customers, although not to the people at McDonald’s who thought the McStuffin was a good idea, that the McStuffin would fail. The McStuffin has to go down in fast food history as one of the more egregious failures because it was a completely unforced error. McDonald’s customers were not clamoring for a cheap knock off of a calzone any more than they’d been clamoring for the opportunity to get pizza or spaghetti from the fast food chain. If you had to have a Hot Pocket, even in the 1990s, all you had to do was open your freezer, grab a hot pocket, put it in the microwave for a few minutes and bingo! With little effort at home you had a hot and tasty enough snack. Why would you go to McDonald’s to get one of these marginal items instead of a Big Mac and fries? Unfortunately for McDonald’s, They were never able to answer that question either.
4. McDonald’s Roast Beef Sandwich
What is it about success that has made McDonald’s implement a series of embarrassing changes to its popular menu? We’ve already gone over items like the ill-fated McStuffin, but then there is the Roast Beef sandwich that was meant to compete with Arby’s, a restaurant well known for roast beef sandwiches – this is what Arby’s does. It’s their thing and they seem to do it pretty well. Customers go to Arby’s mostly for the roast beef sandwiches not the burgers. Apparently, back in 1968 McDonald’s didn’t think it had cornered the market enough when it came to the hamburger and fry business so it went after Arby’s. The McDonald’s version of an Arby’s sandwich came with a packet of barbecue sauce and it sold pretty well, but McDonald’s soon realized there was a problem – aside from than the basic fact that they weren’t Arby’s. Equipping every McDonald’s location with its own meat slicer was so prohibitively expensive that even if brisk sales were maintained, the Mickey D’s roast beef sandwich would never see a profit. After confronting this fact, McDonald’s dropped the sandwich and it never returned. The roast beef sandwich idea sounds like a good example of greed leading to a silly decision. McDonald’s wasn’t satisfied making gobs of money selling countless hamburgers that so manypeople enjoy. Instead the fast food chain tried to find a way to earn more profits to compete with Arby’s and it failed.
3. Just a McSalad Shaker
In an episode of the 1990’s sitcom “Seinfeld,” Jerry is embarrassed when he orders “just a salad” while on a date with a woman who loves to eat meat. Salads can be a much healthier than much of the food served at fast food chains like McDonald’s. Salads that are made with fresh vegetables and grilled meat with low calorie dressings are good choices. However, this isn’t necessarily what you were getting if you ordered a McSalad Shaker. These salads that were served in a clear plastic cup that came in four varieties including a Chef salad, Garden salad and a Grilled Chicken Caesar salad. These failed fast food salads featured ingredients such as cheese, eggs and your choice of creamy salad dressings. When these high fat ingredients are used generously, the salads could rival the fat found in a McDonald’s hamburger. McSalad Shakers were introduced in the U.S. market in 2000 and they were supposed to give customers a healthier option, but McDonald’s seemed to forget that most of their customers eat at the fast food chain knowing that it’s not the healthiest place to eat and they accept this fact. There are plenty of places to get a decent, healthy salad so why did McDonald’s think they had to be one of them? The failed salad in a cup idea makes sense only as a matter of convenience because you could try to eat them while you’re driving your car, but why would you want to?
2. McDonald’s Cheddar Melt
Cheeseburgers are popular so it stands to reason that a burger with melted cheese – such as McDonald’s Cheddar Melt should have been popular too. This burger with melted cheddar and grilled caramelized onions served on a rye bun has been offered to the public several times, but hasn’t gotten the response the fast food chain has been hoping for. The lack of enthusiasm for this burger is a bit of a mystery because cheddar cheese and grilled onions sounds like a can’t miss combination. Even the rye bun should have been a welcome change, but so much depends on the execution of the idea and perhaps that’s where McDonald’s fell short on this one. However, the Cheddar Melt is pretty popular with a certain segment of the public even though it hasn’t been around in a while. This burger even has a dedicated Facebook page where fans of the sandwich hope to convince McDonald’s to bring it back once again. At least one fan of the failed cheddar burger suggested the Cheddar Melt could become a secret menu item, but this just seems like wishful thinking. However, even if you won’t be able to get one of these burgers at McDonald’s, you could make your own at home with any of a number of online recipes. If you get some quality cheddar cheese and cook the patties on your backyard grill, the cheddar melts you make will probably be better than the McDonald’s version anyway.
1. Red, White and Blueberry Shakes
Milkshakes are very popular at fast food burger restaurants like McDonald’s. The ones at McDonald’s are simplycalled “shakes” and they usually come in the three classic flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. In 1976, as part of a patriotic Bicentennial promotion, McDonald’s locations around the U.S. offered customers strawberry, vanilla and blueberry shakes as a red, white and blue tribute to the nation. Vintage marketing posters from 1976 show a cartoon colonial soldier in blue with an assortment of red, white and blue shakes. Just as the green tinted Shamrock Shake has been a popular speciality item for 50 years around St Patrick’s Day, why not make the red, white and blue shake promotion a yearly tradition around Independence Day? Maybe blueberry shakes wouldn’t be a huge hit if offered all year round, but as a limited time offer they might see some interest. While there are many rumors on the Internet about the ingredients in McDonald’s menu items, you don’t really have to worry about McDonald’s shakes. Although some say they don’t contain any actual dairy, the first ingredient in the fast food chain’s shakes is reduced-fat vanilla ice cream. The shakes also contain sugar cream and corn syrup, but in what exact proportions is unclear. State regulations vary on the amount of dairy required to be in the beverage to officially call it a milkshake so McDonald’s decided to make it easy on itself and just go with the word shake. It’s unfortunate the red, white and blue shake idea failed because it seems like there’s room for it – at least around the 4th of July holiday.