- McDonald’s knows one of the most effective ways to get customers into its restaurants is by regularly introducing new menu items, like this year’s doughnut sticks and international menu items.
- While some of these bizarre foods gain a permanent spot on the McDonald’s menu, others fade into a history of unpopular experiments – like the “McLobster” and onion nuggets.
- One of the biggest flops for McDonald’s was the Arch Deluxe burger, introduced in 1996.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Commercial: For a limited time, the McLobster sandwich is ashore at McDonald’s. Filled with Atlantic Canadian lobster meat and crispy lettuce on a fresh bun, it’s bound to make a splash with everyone.
Narrator: Uh, yeah. That was on the McDonald’s menu at one point. McDonald’s is constantly trying out new menu items to stay relevant and keep customers interested. Some things stick, while others… not so much.
Commercial: It’s bound to make a splash with everyone.
Narrator: Around the time popular fast-food chains started selling salads as entrées, McDonald’s hopped on the trend. In 2000, it introduced McSalad Shakers, a salad in a cup that offered customers a healthier option for a quick meal. McSalad Shakers were taken off the menu in 2003 and replaced with the premium salads we have today, all served in bowls.
But before launching salads, McDonald’s tried another tactic to appeal to customers who wanted a healthier option. Low-fat diets were popular during the 1980s and ’90s, pushing the food industry to create low-fat products. In 1991, McDonald’s released a low-fat burger called the McLean Deluxe.
Commercial: Introducing McLean Deluxe, made with a 91%-fat-free beef patty.
Narrator: Ninety-one per cent fat free. McDonald’s did this by replacing the burger’s fat content with water and using a seaweed extract called carrageenan to bind the water to the beef. Ninety per cent of the patty was beef, and the other 10% was water and carrageenan. Even though the McLean Deluxe was launched during the low-fat-food era, it wasn’t a popular menu item, and the chain discontinued it in 1996.
Believe it or not, the burger joint took a stab at pizza in the late ’80s, and, surprisingly, it wasn’t called the McPizza.
Commercial: The McDonald’s family-size pepperoni pizza, smothered in cheese and pepperonis, for only $US5.99 or two for $US10.
Narrator: McDonald’s simply called it McDonald’s Pizza, but customers dubbed it McPizza. The fast-food chain wanted to see if they could dominate the pizza industry, but with competitors like Domino’s and Pizza Hut, it was hard to accomplish that goal. The McPizza was discontinued from all the McDonald’s restaurants because of its long prep time. Most McDonald’s restaurants stopped serving pizza in 2000, but only two locations kept it on the menu. It wasn’t until September 2017 that McDonald’s corporate office decided to permanently take pizza off the menu.
Pizza and salad aren’t the only burger alternatives McDonald’s has tried. It briefly sold Tex-Mex food with its version of chicken fajitas, made with chicken, cheese, green peppers, and onions on a tortilla.
Commercial: ♪ Hey ♪ ♪ Ándale ♪ ♪ To Mickey D’s today ♪ ♪ Get some fajitas to go ♪ ♪ The price is so low ♪
Narrator: The item was taken off the menu at most franchises in the 1990s, most likely because they couldn’t compete with Taco Bell, which was known for its Mexican-inspired food.
In the 1960s, McDonald’s introduced the Hula Burger. The burger had a slice of grilled pineapple and cheese on it. But it had a competitor: the Filet-O-Fish sandwich.
Commercial: ♪ Give me back that Filet-O-Fish ♪ ♪ Give me that fish ♪
Narrator: These two were introduced in the early 1960s. The Filet-O-Fish was created by a man named Lou Groen, who opened the first McDonald’s in the Cincinnati area in 1959. At the time, most of the population in Cincinnati was Catholic and didn’t eat meat on Fridays, with the exception of fish. With no meat-free options to offer, business at Groen’s McDonald’s was slow on Fridays, so he came up with an alternative. Groen said that Ray Kroc, the franchise’s owner, initially didn’t like his Filet-O-Fish idea, but that might have been because Kroc already had an idea for a meatless burger, which was none other than the Hula Burger.
Kroc decided to add both the Hula Burger and the Filet-O-Fish to menus at select locations on one Friday in 1962, and whichever sandwich sold the most would win. The final score? The Filet-O-Fish won by a landslide with 350 sales, while the Hula Burger only had about six. The Hula Burger was discontinued, and the Filet-O-Fish still exists today.
What do you get when McDonald’s creates a Hot Pockets spinoff? McStuffins.
Narrator: In 1993, McDonald’s created McStuffins, which had various fillings, including…
Commercial: Pepperoni pizza, and chicken teriyaki, and…
Narrator: Stuffed in French bread. It seemed tasty, but it wasn’t very popular. McStuffins were officially removed from McDonald’s menus the same year that they were released.
In 1984, McDonald’s introduced the McDLT, which stood for McDonald’s Lettuce and Tomato. Unlike a traditional BLT, the McDLT had more than just meat, lettuce, and tomato. It was served on a two-sided Styrofoam container with the meat on the bottom half of the bun served on one side, while the other side held the top half of the bun with lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles, and sauces. This kept the hot and the cold parts of the sandwich separate until it was time to eat. McDonald’s took the McDLT off the menu in 1991 after the company received backlash from environmental activists for using Styrofoam containers.
Before the Chicken McNuggets that we know and love today, there were Onion Nuggets. These deep-fried onion bits appeared on McDonald’s menus in the 1970s, before McNuggets, which may explain the very close resemblance. But Onion Nuggets are shrouded in mystery. Like many other limited-time offerings, no one really knows when or why McDonald’s discontinued them.
One of the biggest flops for McDonald’s was the Arch Deluxe burger, introduced in 1996. The New York Times reported that McDonald’s spent an estimated $US150 million to $US200 million in marketing for the Arch Deluxe, making it the largest-ever fast-food-marketing budget at the time. McDonald’s marketed the burger specifically to adults, promoting it as a gourmet burger with a secret Arch sauce. But McDonald’s is known for its fun, family-friendly atmosphere, and the sudden change in marketing towards an adult audience contradicted that fun culture the company displayed for so long.
Commercial: Introducing the burger with the grown-up taste. McDonald’s Arch Deluxe.
Narrator: At the time of the promotion, McDonald’s thought the Arch Deluxe, which cost between $US2.09 and $US2.49, would hit at least $US1 billion in sales. But the burger lasted about a year before it was taken off the menu. In January 2018, McDonald’s started to test a new version of the Arch Deluxe, called the Archburger. McDonald’s confirmed that the new Archburgers were made with fresh beef and that the signature Arch sauce also made a comeback. But McDonald’s hasn’t given any more updates on the Archburger’s comeback.
For now, we can always count on McDonald’s to surprise us with new, interesting meals.
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