The McDonald’s that we know and love, identified by those iconic Golden Arches, had humble beginnings. The restaurant first opened as McDonald’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1940, serving a simple menu of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, and shakes. Over the next several years, founders Dick and Mac McDonald renovated the restaurant and highlighted their $0.15 hamburger.
In 1954, Ray Croc visited the restaurant and talked the McDonald brothers into creating a national burger chain. The first franchised McDonald’s location opened in Des Plaines, Ill., in 1955 incorporating the very first Golden Arches, designed by architect Stanley Meston.
Today, McDonald’s is the largest hamburger fast-food chain in the world, and serves more than 58 million customers daily. While McDonald’s continues to have a set staple menu throughout most of their locations, the chain is continuously trying to invent both local, national and international menu items to bolster its offerings.
For instance, specialty menu items such as the Big Mac or Chicken McNuggets have been huge commercial successes across the board. But other items have been launched, and have subsequently vanished just as quickly. Items such as the Bacon Bacon McBacon, the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, and the Home-Fried Chicken never quite caught on with American consumers. In local markets, McDonald’s has even rolled out items like the McLobster on the East Coast, poutine in Canada, and the McCrab in parts of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia
In order to assemble our list of the top 10 McDonald’s flops, we took into account the cost of the (unsuccessful) advertising campaign, the lack of commercial success of an item, as well as the duration of which the particular product or promotion existed. So the least successful of the lot were ones that not only came and went quickly, but wasted plenty of the company’s money as well.
McDonald’s continues to roll out new products all the time; some will make it big, others will vanish off the menu without a trace.
One of the seasonal and local menu items that popped up on McDonald’s menus in eastern Canada and New England during select summer months was the infamous McLobster. The company produced this faux lobster roll in a hot dog bun during the summertime, when lobster prices were relatively cheap. But "cheap" (for lobster) didn’t match up with the McDonald’s clientele. The sandwich clocked in at $5.99, and customers veered away from the expensive special.
2. The Hula Burger
The Hula Burger was the brainchild of owner Ray Kroc. He believed that this meatless burger, containing grilled pineapple with cheese on a bun, would be a perfect option for Catholics who abstain from eating meat during Lent. While the Filet-O-Fish, another Lent-inspired option, still remains popular to this day, the Hula Burger did not enjoy such long-term success.
Similar to other seasonal flops like the McLobster, the McCrab was created for a specific regional area in the U.S. comprised of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. The item was meant to resemble a classic Chesapeake crabcake but was lacking in the fresh ingredient department.
McDonald’s created a massive advertising campaign around the idea of upgrading and expanding their classic meals to be "super-sized" in the mid-1990s. For a while, the idea sold, and customers around the world were super-sizing their orders, and the calorie content. After the release of the documentary Super-Size Me, which exposed the dangers of McDonald’s and fast food, the concept of super-sizing a meal went rapidly down hill, resulting in the company pulling it from menus in 2004.
5. McGratin Croquette
While the U.S. market never had the pleasure of experiencing a McGratin Croquette, a patty made of deep-fried macaroni, potato, and shrimp, customers in Japan certainly did. It didn’t last long on Japanese menus, and critics believed it was a combination of taste and poor marketing that led to its ultimate demise.
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