Fast food restaurants are constantly switching up their menus to keep customers satisfied and engaged.
Sometimes, however, what seems like a winning quick culinary achievement falls very, very flat. Here’s a look at some of the most memorable fast food fails that couldn’t quite cut it.
1. McDonald’s Hula Burger
Who doesn’t love a pineapple burger? Apparently, plenty of people. In the 1960s, a franchise owner in a Roman Catholic neighborhood informed McDonald’s president Ray Kroc that a meat-free option would be a good solution for locals who were giving up meat on Fridays during Lent.
Kroc put his money on this nontraditional grilled fruit burger, while the franchise owner made a gamble of his own: he debuted the Filet-O-Fish at the same time, which has since become an American Micky D’s classic.
2. McDonald’s McDLT
Complete with a TV spot featuring a young Jason Alexander, the McDLT (meaning McDonald’s Lettuce and Tomato) was the chain’s reaction to the popularity of the whopper.
The main selling point was that a styrofoam container split the cold ingredients (vegetables and sauce) from the hot ingredients (the meat and cheese), making it as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
It died in the early ’90s when environmentally conscious consumers protested against the packaging.
3. Taco Bell Seafood Salad
Served in a taco shell (of course), Taco Bell’s seafood salad of the ’80s contained shrimp, whitefish, and snow crab, and was meant to be a competitor to McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.
Unfortunately for Taco Bell, the two dishes are inherently very different, and something about ordering a bowl of questionably fresh seafood at a fast food restaurant sounded, well, fishy.
4. Dairy Queen Breeze
The low-fat health craze of the ’90s brought with it plenty of slightly less sugary but worse tasting iterations of classic foods.
Frozen yogurt became the only-a-little-bit-less-bad-for-you ice cream alternative, and Dairy Queen seized the opportunity to include a froyo version of their famous Blizzard, named the Breeze. The menu item was discontinued when the dismal sales meant that more yogurt was spoiling than actually being sold.
5. Jack in the Box Frings
In 1979, Jack in the Box decided to combine everyone’s two favorite fast food side dishes — fries and onion rings, aka “Frings.” But as Jack had to learn the hard way, two good things don’t always make a better third thing, and customers were typically happy to pick one side or the other and stick with their usual fave.
6. Pizza Hut Priazzo
The priazzo was a Pizza Hut pie made with two crusts, and was apparently meant to resemble/rival a Chicago deep dish pizza. One crust was loaded with sauce, cheese, and meat pizza paraphernalia and topped with a second crust, on which the whole process was repeated.
The mega pie was then thrown in the oven for…way too long. This thick double layer took far too long to cook, and impatient pizza eaters chose Pizza Hut’s much quicker options instead.
7. Wendy’s Superbar
This is the only product that failed because it was too successful. Wendy’s Superbar was an all-you-can-eat buffet of salad, Mexican food, and pasta options offered for the sweet 1980’s price of $2.99. Demand for the cheap, infinite food was far too high, and employees constantly struggled to keep Superbars clean and well-stocked while managing the chain’s other customers.
While not every fast food venture can become a hit, these chains’ ingenuity and willingness to think outside of the box will remembered (and hopefully learned from) for many years yet.
8. McDonald’s Pizza
In the 1980s, McDonald’s was the reigning fast food king supreme, with just one problem — burgers in paper bags were regarded as a lunchtime treat, and the company had a harder time making sales at dinner.
The solution? Pizza. However, even with their patented quick-cook oven on the case, a McDonald’s ’za still took about eleven minutes to prepare — way too long to ask hungry American fast food goers to wait for their grub.
9. McDonald’s McStuffins
In an attempt to make a Hot Pocket-style calzone-esque portable meal, McDonald’s released McStuffins — a hand-held nosh made of toasted French bread stuffed with ingredients like pepperoni or teriyaki chicken. Despite their cute name and convenient on-the-go eatability, McStuffins didn’t sell well and went off the market in 1993, less than a year after they were introduced.
10. McDonald’s McSpaghetti
You have to hand it to them — McDonald’s was nothing if not resilient in their multiple attempts to make an Italian-style dinner option work.
Debuted in the ’80s, the problem with McSpaghetti’s sales was similar to the McPizza flop — it took too long to make, and customers just couldn’t fully wrap their heads around the idea of the burger chain selling pasta. However, the dish did take off in the Philippines, and is still sold there today.