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Anyone who has heard me wax poetic about fast food and chain restaurants will tell you that I have a love-hate relationship with them. I hate the fact that they tend to have food that tastes awful and is horrible for your health.
Bad as they are, I have to say that I admire them. They're efficient. They manage to gain loyal clientele, and always (erm, almost always) have a natural knack for marketing and creating menu items that people tend to enjoy.
However, that's not to say they're infallible.
The real juggernaut of the fast food restaurants is McDonald's—and even they tend to have some serious fails once in a while. Love 'em or hate 'em, these menu items proved that even Ronald McDonald's can't make some things appetizing.
The McLobster Roll
A while back, every fast food chain somehow decided that they should be selling lobster—in the form of a lobster roll, of course. The old school Northeast treat sounded great on paper, right?
Well, McDonald's failed to remember that people don't go to McDonald's for lobster. They also forgot that lobster is really expensive and that it goes bad a bit too quickly for it to be sustainable.
It was chopped lobster, with "McLobster Sauce" (shudder), in a hot dog bun. Not very appetizing, is it? Shockingly, the McLobster is still actually rumored to be available in some parts of the Northeast and Canada.
If morbid curiosity takes hold of you, then head up north for your very own McLobster.
The McGratin Croquette
A lot of the strangest things to ever grace a McDonald's menu were created specifically with Japanese customers in mind. In Japan, McDonald's is known for its "American-style" excesses and for having combinations that aren't *quite* American in flavor profile but are sort of oddly good anyway.
The McGratin Croquette is an example of the whole, "American-but-not-and-kind-of-weird" quality that many menu items McD's debuted in Japan tends to have. The McGrating Croquette, also known as Gurakuro in Japan, was...
It was a fried ball of creamed shrimp, macaroni, and potatoes in between two buns. Gurakuro failed mostly due to taste, which proves that some things are universally unappetizing—even with potentially LSD-induced commercials to promote them.
If there's one thing McDonald's is good at, and has always been good at, it's awareness of the cultural differences that could impact a person's diet. That's why you see McDonald's edamame in Japan, vegetarian McAloo Tikki in India, and McFalafels in Egypt.
One of the earliest attempts at cultural inclusion was the Hula Burger. Founder Ray Kroc noticed that Catholics often abstained from eating meat on Friday, so he tried to come up with an alternative. Since it was the 70s and no one heard of tofu yet, he created the Hula Burger.
The Hula Burger was a pineapple-based burger. We imagine it was horrible because it was killed relatively quickly. The Filet-o-Fish, another invention geared towards Catholics, ended up being a hit—and it's still served up today.
Much like there were breakfast menu wars among fast food companies during the 2000s, there was a seriously intense pizza war going on during the 1980s. Pizza was the dinner takeout item of choice during this time. McDonald's, seeing Pizza Hut's dinnertime success, wanted in on that action.
So, the company set out to make it happen. The only problem is that the McPizza wasn't the company's forte. The McPizza would take as long as 30 minutes to make, which basically negated the "fast" part of fast food.
Even though it took a while to make, the franchise kept making pizza on and off until the early 90s. At the very least, it probably was still better than Sbarro's.
Okay, anyone who is from the New York City metropolitan area can now start gagging. You have my permission. This monstrosity is known as the McSpaghetti—and yes, it came out around the time that the McPizza did.
This... stuff... has a lot of problems. First off, it apparently tasted like noodles and ketchup. Second, they couldn't make it look appetizing in commercials, which is actually kind of impressive if you think about it. Third, people go to fast food restaurants so that they don't have to have pasta with jarred sauce for dinner.
From what we can tell, we couldn't actually find a commercial for it online. Maybe it's because McDonald's realized they made a culinary abortion and decided to try to brush it under the rug.
Despite this being awful, the McSpaghetti apparently has a cult following in the Philippines and Japan. Yeah, we don't get it, either.
During the 90s, McDonald's was one of those fast food resturants that was known for having a hyper-youthful demographic. With its ample Play Places and Happy Meals, it's easy to see why they were popular with kids. Adults, though? Not so much.
To try to get a more adult-friendly menu, they created the Arch Deluxe. It was—get this—a burger, lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, ketchup, a secret sauce, all on a sesame seed bun. Wait! That's a regular hamburger! Executives added peppered bacon to make it different. Because somehow, bacon equals maturity.
It was a catastrophic failure and remains one of the most expensive mistakes the Golden Arches ever had. $100 million went into promoting it, and it still sucked. Thankfully, vaporwave artists can splice the commercials into a new song, so it's not a total loss.
The Mc HotDog
Unlike other items on this list, the Mc HotDog had no issues with taste or design. It even made sense, in terms of menus. After all, every backyard cookout you'll ever go to will have hot dogs and hamburgers.
The Mc HotDog's failure, though, came from timing. Ray Kroc, for one reason or another, really fucking hated hot dogs. During his time as CEO of McDonald's, he refused to have them in the restaurants because you could never tell what was in them.
By the time he stepped down and let others take control, the introduction of the Mc HotDog was a flop. Customers simply didn't see hot dogs as being very "McDonald's-like."
As far as failed fast food menu items go, the McDLT is the stuff of legends. The executives came up with a fake problem (having lettuce get soggy on a hot bun) and created a solution involving styrofoam packaging to keep things crispy on one side and warm on the other.
Most people are aware of the McDLT these days from the Family Guy clip joking about it. But, it was a real thing. It's amazing how excited people are about a partially assembled sandwich in the commercial, isn't it?
The McLean Deluxe
McDonald's is not known for being healthy. In fact, part of the "ugly American" trope is being overweight and eating McDonald's. During the 1990s, they were beginning to lose people who wanted to keep their waistlines intact. To combat this issue, they made the McLean Deluxe.
McLean, as in, skinny. Deluxe, as in, has extra crap on it.
The McLean was 91 percent fat-free, but that's not what made it fail. When word got out that they were adding water to the beef and also using seaweed-based additives to keep it glued together, people got grossed out and stopped eating it. It also allegedly tasted funky, which might be a reason why people stopped ordering it, too.
The Big N' Tasty
If you're a Millennial like me, you might actually remember the Big N' Tasty. This burger was designed to compete against Burger King's Whopper—and was meant to be a bigger, beefier burger than a typical McD's burger.
Truth be told, this burger actually ended up having a good run. However, when the Angus burger came out, people definitely showed a strong preference for that one. The Big N' Tasty was quietly pulled off the menus as Angus had its time in the sun.
Most people will agree that spicy wings and burgers are good menu items to pair together, and with the success of Chicken McNuggets, it's easy to see why the guys at the Golden Arches thought the same, too.
Mighty Wings were released in 2013 as a way to offer a spicy wing option during football season, with the hope that people would want to keep eating them otherwise. Mighty Wings definitely didn't show themselves to be too mighty in terms of sales.
There was a mild spiciness, and people said that they tasted good. Tasters did note, though, that they tasted quite a bit like KFC. Between the lack of sauce, the slight spiciness, and the fact that people just didn't see McDonald's as a place to get wings, they failed.
Overall, it was a case of it being a good concept with bad follow-through.
In the early to mid-70s, McDonald's got a little funky. Onion Nuggets, as the name suggests, were basically chicken nuggets with chopped onion where the chicken should be.
What's interesting about this is that someone had to think this was a good idea—and how surprisingly little there is on the net about them. No one remembers what they tasted like. No commercials can be found of them.
They didn't last long, but apparently, one guy on YouTube remembers it. Proof they existed?
The Corn Shrimp Burger
Yep, this was an international entry. Corn and fried creamed shrimp. In a burger. You'd expect something like this to be made in the 1970s or 1980s, just to show that McDonald's was wild or something, right? Nope!
The McDonald's Corn Shrimp Burger was actually a Korean menu item to promote Despicable Me 3. However, that's not the only shrimp-based burger they made. A number of shrimp burgers were released throughout Japan, South Korea, and other parts of Asia fairly recently.
I'm curious, but leery. Would you try this thing?