Love it or hate it, fast food is the foundation of American cuisine and it might be a controversial statement, but there are only a handful of notable fast food menu items. It seems that for every Big Mac and Whopper; other menu items made it out of the test kitchens and left the fast food eating masses scratching their heads.
Sure, some things develop a cult following, and are brought back from time to time, the McRib is a good example. However, it’s probably safe to say these fast food disappointments won’t be making a come back anytime soon even if they somehow manage to work their way back into pop culture.
McDonald’s Arch Deluxe
McDonald’s has dependably been a family restaurant with a solid focus on making kids happy. This is why the McDonaldland characters were a success and the reason behind the launch of the Happy Meal. So in 1996, McDonald’s wanted to appear more grown up, so, they released the Arch Deluxe, a hamburger that would target adults the same way the Happy Meal appealed to kids.
The Arch Deluxe featured a quarter-pound patty on an artisan bun topped with lettuce, peppered bacon, tomato, and a different secret sauce that was supposed to be a fancier version than the secret sauce found on the Big Mac. McDonald’s promoted the hell out of the Arch Delux, trying to show the world that it wasn’t for kids but more sophisticated palates, yet despite their extensive marketing research, the burger was a failure of epic proportions. Everyone believed that McDonald’s was trying to be something they’re not.
Burger King Satisfries
When Burger King launched their Satisfries in 2013, they were telling the world, “We can be healthy too!” However, BK’s Satisfries were more similar to, “saddest fries.” The low-calorie fries fizzled many reasons.
First of all, everybody knows french fries aren’t health food, and trying to make junk food healthy doesn’t work because it isn’t going to taste good. Those who want a healthier side option at a fast food restaurant will opt for the apple slices or a side salad. Second, the fries cost more — most people choose to get the best bang for their buck when they eat fast food. Finally, the fries weren’t even healthy! A medium sized order of the crinkle cut french fries were still 340 calories. Despite replacing regular fries with Satisfries in kids’ meals, Burger King phased out the side item a year later in 2014 due to weak sales.
Before Wendy’s became known for sending out epic Tweets, and doing things in their quirky way, back in 2006, they tried to hop on the new sandwich bandwagon and trying to give sandwich powerhouse, Subway, a run for their money. But Wendy’s run was more like a short, leisurely stroll. Wendy’s launched their line of deli sandwiches called Frescata as an attempt to appeal to younger consumers by offering a healthy option.
The original sandwiches came in four varieties: Roasted Turkey with Basil Pesto, Frescata Club, Roasted Turkey & Swiss, and the Black Forest Ham & Swiss. Later, the Frescata Italiana was added only months after the initial product launch. Although the sandwiches were a fan favorite to many, Wendy’s pulled them from the menu less than a year later. Prep for the sandwiches was challenging and caused slow-downs. The artisan rolls were fresh-baked, and every sandwich was made to order. Wendy’s simply wasn’t ready to prepare them efficiently or promptly.
Wendy’s is all about freshness now, but it doesn’t seem that a freshly made deli-style sandwich will be on their menu ever again.
Those above a certain age, remember the McDLT commercials “We keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool.” Though, aside from launching the career of Seinfeld great, Jason Alexander with a commercial that probably had one of the best jingles of the decade, the McDLT was never a successful burger, though it stayed on the menu from 1984 until the early 1990s.
This McDonald’s burger was served in a styrofoam container which led to its demise. The reason for the styrofoam, aside from making Greenpeace cringe, was to separate the hot hamburger patty and bottom bun, from the cool side lettuce, tomato, and a slice of cheese and top bun. The container was designed to “keep the hot side hot, and the cool side cool.” The customer had to do the final prep work by joining the two sides together. In the blog, Serius Eats, Ken Forton said that a lot of McDonald’s locations couldn’t adequately prepare the burger stating, “There was a special heating-cooling machine that we had. It was like a rack heater, but cold on one side, and hot on the other. I think a lot of locations just used regular heaters, so customers only ever got warm burgers.”
Taco Bell Seafood Salad
Taco Bell doesn’t hide the fact that they are the kings of late night munchies. They may have the Cantina Bell menu with somewhat healthier options, but that’s not how they make their money. The 80s were a different time, and Taco Bell was trying to contend with the larger fast food chains.
Hoping to win the hearts and stomachs of those who were more health conscious, in 1986 they introduced a Seafood Salad as a healthy option and for those who practice not eating meat during Lent. They were simultaneously trying to gain some of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish customers. Their Seafood Salad came in a taco bowl and along with everything that would usually go in a taco bowl like lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and olives, only they replaced the beef with shrimp, white fish, and crab. It was, however, discontinued because, honestly, who wants fish when they go to Taco Bell?
Not to mention the numerous reports of food poisoning that came from those who ingested it.