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Top 10 Failed McDonald’s Products

McDonald’s is one of the biggest companies in the world, and not just in the fast-food industry. As popular as they are, McDonald’s always likes to keep on top of our food eating habits and they constantly come up with new products to keep the customers happy. However, while many of their products work to great effect, some really don’t and become infamous as a stain on the fast-food world. With that in mind here are the Top 10 Failed McDonald’s Products.

10. McAfrika / McAfrica

As we start our list of the top 10 failed items in McDonald’s history, we kick things off with one of their biggest disasters ever. Unlike other entries on this list, the reason the McAfrika failed wasn’t because of the food itself. Beef served with cheese and salad and then wrapped in a pita sandwich actually sounds pretty good and normally this item would be a great addition to McDonald’s menus. However, the reason the McAfrika failed so badly was mainly because of the name and the marketing campaign. Given the fact that poverty and famine were at their height in Africa at the time, people didn’t like the idea of stuffing their faces with a sandwich carrying the Africa name. The backlash was so bad that not only did McDonald’s pull this item from their menus and apologize for it, they actually added donation boxes for famine relief in most of their restaurants. Unfortunately, McDonald’s didn’t learn their lesson and to help with the promotion of the 2008 Olympics, they re-released the item. Switching the pita bread for a more traditional bun, they renamed it the McAfrica, with a “c” instead of a “k”. As you can imagine, people were still unhappy with McDonald’s choice of the name and advertising campaign and the item was pulled once again.  Will McDonald’s ever learn?  

9. McHotdog 

When it comes to fast food items, there are a few products which are staples that we simply can’t do without; like burgers, fries, fried chicken, pizzas and sandwiches. All of those products are popular worldwide and are a must for all fast food lovers. However, there is one item that is hugely popular with many of us but a lot of fast-food chains avoid serving them as much as possible –  and that is the humble Hot Dog. While Hot Dogs are consumed by millions all around the world, McDonald’s never put hot dogs on their menus in the early days. You would think that Hot Dogs would be a perfect fit; you can prepare them quickly, store them safely and they are cheap, and that was the McDonald’s way after all. The reason for the lack of Hot Dogs on the McDonald’s menu was all down to Ray Kroc. The fast-food legend didn’t like Hot Dogs at all. He thought they were unhygienic and didn’t fit the McDonald’s image, even though many people pushed for it. Eventually, after Ray Kroc had passed away, McDonald’s did release a Hot Dog and despite its seemingly low risk, the Hot Dog didn’t do well at all. Despite the popularity of Hot Dogs and the fact that McDonald’s could sell them cheaply, the McHotdog didn’t take off. McDonald’s kept trying to make us fall in love with their Hot Dogs and re-releasing them every now and again, but to no avail. Apparently the McDonald’s loving public would rather stick to their burgers. 

8. Arch Deluxe 

One of the more appealing things about fast food restaurants, especially McDonald’s, is that they are very family-friendly. Their food, image, and even restaurants are perfectly set up so that anyone from the ages of eight to eighty can enjoy themselves. However, despite McDonald’s being incredibly successful for families and young children, they decided to try and up their image by creating a menu just for adults. The jewel in their adult crown was the Arch Deluxe burger. This burger was designed with only adults in mind and it used grown-up and sophisticated flavors. The Arche deluxe was a quarter pounder with peppered bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, ketchup, and a secret sauce. The burger itself wasn’t too different from what had come before but the real downfall of the Arch Deluxe was the marketing campaign. After spending millions and millions on a new advertising campaign; the commercials actually showed kids making ‘yucky’ faces at the new Arch Deluxe burger. They even had Ronald McDonald turning his hands to more ‘Adult’ games such as golf and pool. The whole campaign was a complete disaster as everyone was turned off. The result was one of the most expensive mistakes in McDonald’s history and actually caused the company to take a long, hard look at themselves and make some big staff changes. 

7. McGratin Croquette

Every now and again McDonald’s, as well as other fast-food chains, like to come up with something that is so different and ‘out there’ with the hope of creating the next big thing. Unfortunately, some of these products just baffle us. This is what happened when McDonald’s came out with their McGratin Croquette sandwich. Designed more for the Japanese market than for the US, the McGratin Croquette consisted of deep-fried Macaroni, Shrimp and mashed potato which was then served on a bed of cabbage and stuffed into a bun. The combination of ingredients alone is enough to put anyone off the McGratin Croquette, and in fact, the number one complaint about this product was the taste, as many Japanese people didn’t like the idea of potato, macaroni, and bread together – the texture alone screams mushy! The other reason was that the marketing for the McGratin Croquette didn’t really set the world on fire and no one rushed to their local McDonald’s to try this new item. However, given the failure of this product, it surprisingly does still pop up from time to time in some Japanese McDonald’s. There are obviously some people that like thisitem, we really don’t know why?

6. McDLT

During the 1980’s McDonald’s thought there was a problem with their burgers. They thought that sometimes people didn’t like all the ingredients in their burgers. Whether it was the sauce or the salad, McDonald’s thought they could fix this problem and improve sales by having people build their own burgers. Obviously this problem didn’t really exist but McDonald’s ran with the idea anyway and gave us the McDLT. The idea with this burger was that the warm sections of the burger; such as the meat patty, were kept separate from the cold sections; the salad, the sauce, and the cheese. Not only could you build your own burger and leave out the bits you didn’t want, but it was also meant to keep the separate parts fresher for longer. The idea didn’t really catch on as people didn’t really want to assemble their own fast food meal. But the main reason the McDLT didn’t work was due to the packaging. As the world was moving towards a more environmentally conscious society, people had issues with the giant Styrofoam containers McDonald’s was using to serve their McDLT. Because of this, McDonald’s struggled to promote this product and it was eventually pulled from their menus.  

5. McLobster

We all know what we’re getting when we head to our local McDonald’s; fast, cheap and tasty food. We know it’s not the best stuff for us but that’s probably one of the reasons why we love it. However, sometimes McDonald’s likes to think they are a bit more high-brow than they actually are and this was the case when they came out with their McLobster sandwich. The sandwich itself consisted of Lobster meat and lettuce shoved into a hotdog bun, which may sound fancy for a fast-food chain, but it didn’t look very appealing. One of the main reasons people were turned off by the McLobster was its price. Because of the Lobster content, this sandwich was truly overpriced compared to any other sandwich or burger on the Mickey D’s menu. The other reason for its failure was that it’s difficult to keep seafood fresh while maintaining good quality and fast service. Although the McLobster bombed in most places, it is still available in some Maritime Canadian McDonald’s locations and even in certain parts Maine – usually coinciding with lobster fishing season. Maybe the McLobster can work in those places, but for the rest of us, the McLobster was a big no thank you.  

4. Hula Burger 

Next on our list of failed McDonald’s products we come to the most outrageous dud from the Ray Kroc era. While Ray Kroc was a fast-food legend, he took the McDonald’s idea and pushed it to heights the world had never seen before, he also had his bad ideas and failures. The Hula Burger was one of the biggest flops to happen to the Golden Arches chain. During the 1960’s McDonald’s had really started to take over the fast food world. However there was one group of people that McDonald’s couldn’t seem to accommodate on a certain day of the week and that was devout Catholic population. As Catholics couldn’t eat meat on Fridays, McDonald’s decided to come up with a meat-free burger in order to please the religious group. Two products were pitted against each other; The Hula Burger and the Fillet-o-Fish. While the Fillet-O-Fish took off and is still a popular choice today, Ray Kroc’s Hula Burger bombed. The Hula Burger was essentially a cheeseburger but instead of the meat patty, a slice of grilled Pineapple was topped with cheese and served in a bun. Yes, this was a pineapple cheeseburger. We have no idea why Ray Kroc thought this was a winning idea, but it resulted in one of the biggest failures in McDonald’s history. 

3. McPizza

On our list of the top 10 failed McDonald’s products, we have already seen a few items that you would think would be sure fire hits, the McHotdog is a great example of this. Another popular food that McDonald’s tried to add to their menus was pizza. On the surface, selling pizza should have been a safe bet. After all, pizza is a billion-dollar industry and even the bad pizza chains seem to make money, so surely McDonald’s could grab even a small percentage of that business couldn’t they? Well the easy answer is…no. McDonald’s spent a lot of money and certainly tried their best to crack the pizza market. They rolled out the McPizza with a huge marketing campaign. They even redesigned a lot of their restaurants to be able to add pizza ovens and wider drive-through windows to make passing pizzas to customers possible without having to tilt and twist it. However, all that advertising and mass redesigning was a big waste of time as the McPizza was a big failure. One of the biggest problems with McDonald’s selling pizza was that it just took too long to cook. People had gotten used to the speed of which they could get their McDonald’s meal and they just weren’t willing to wait for a pizza to be prepared. Another reason for the McPizza failure was that the pizzas themselves weren’t very good and most people complained about how bland they were. But when it comes down to it, the main reason for the McPizza fail was that when people wanted pizza, they tended to go to one of the many pizza chains rather than McDonald’s, which makes sense. McDonald’s is best when they stick to what’s made them what they are – burgers, sandwiches and fries.

2. McPasta / McSpaghetti  

Over the years McDonald’s has tried to add many popular food favorites to their menus and it has to be said that most of them have failed. Not too long ago McDonald’s tried to change their image a little and they wanted to encourage people to stay in their restaurants for longer and have an actual dining experience rather than just grabbing their food and leaving. With that in mind, McDonald’s came out with their dinner menus. As well as failures such as the McPizza, McDonald’s once tried adding pasta to their restaurant menus as well. The pasta dishes McDonald’s experimented with were Lasagna, Spaghetti with Meatballs and Fettuccine Alfredo. They also tried to complete the dining experience with some new side dishes such as mashed potato with gravy or a vegetable medley. The problem the public had with McDonald’s introducing a dinner menu to their restaurants was that they had spent decades building up a reputation for great, fast food. No one wanted to eat a slowed down dinner at their local McDonald’s. The dinner menu failed so badly the whole idea was quickly scrapped and never mentioned again. Around the world, McDonald’s has tried to bring out the odd item from the dinner menu but people still aren’t that interested in eating pasta or pizzas in a McDonald’s. But there is one or two hold outs when it comes to the McSpaghetti. Apparently it is still served in the Philippines and parts of Indonesia.

1. McLean Deluxe 

As the world moves towards a more health-conscious society, even fast-food chains are jumping on board and offering their customers healthier options. With the addition of many fat-free products, salads and vegetable options – as well as the recent surge in meat-free burgers and Beyond meat products – fast food chains are starting to get the healthy side of eating right. However, it wasn’t too long ago that the idea of a healthy fast food option was strange and even crazy. Back in the early 1990s, particularly after the huge success of products like Diet Coke, McDonald’s tried to get in on the fat-free and sugar-free markets that were gaining steam with the introduction of the McLean Deluxe. This burger was advertised as over 90% fat-free and as a healthy alternative to more traditional fast food items. The burger itself looked like a regular McDonald’s burger. However, in order to make this a virtually fat free option, McDonald’s replaced most of the fat with water. This in itself caused the first problem as the burger patties wouldn’t hold their shape because their was no fat to bind them together. McDonald’s solution to this was to inject the patties with Carrageenan, which is a type of seaweed often used in the food industry as a thickening agent. Although this did help to mold and hold the burger patties together, it did nothing for the taste. People were soon turned off from the fat free McLean Deluxe and it was never seen again. Luckily McDonald’s did learn their lesson from this failure and nowadays they have much better-tasting healthy options on their menus for the more health-conscious Mickey D’s fans out there.

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