1 The seafood salad that couldn't be refrigerated
In 1986, long before the chihuahua days, Taco Bell was looking to fill a questionable void. Señor Bell thought topping its classic crispy tortilla bowl and standard issue fixings with a mix of shrimp, snow crab and white fish would hit the spot for those with a taste for the exotic.
But the salad went bust. Due to the inadequate refrigeration practices of the mid-'80s, the seafood was unable to freeze. The fast food giant's door was wide open for food poisoning (and potential litigation) to plague not only its customers, but its sales and the item was quickly discontinued.
A quest for healthier options ends a successful fast food campaign
In 1993, McDonald's launched a very successful and ridiculously unhealthy "super-sized" campaign. While ordering your meal, you could bump up your caloric intake on your side and drink with barely any thought. In 2004, the company decided to end the campaign, as fast food companies met with intense pressure to cater to Americans' growing preference for healthier food options.
That same year, the hit documentary Super Size Me unleashed the facts behind such ridiculously sized options. McDonald's insisted phasing out such a successful campaign had nothing to do with the film but everything to do with the company's bottom line.
The burger that some called genius and others called a cardiac mess
In 2009, Red Robin introduced the “Wise Guy," otherwise known as the mother of all unhealthy burgers. Packed with nearly a full day's worth of fat and calories, this pepperoni, marinara, and fried mozzarella jaw cracking monster fell flat with America's new healthier lifestyle. With over 1,000 calories, 51 grams of fat and 2017 mg sodium in one smacker, this guy wasn't as wise as was hoped and Red Robin soon offed this burger.
The fast food giant that tried to make Onion Nuggets a thing
In the 1970s, long after the onion ring was invented and a bit before the Chicken McNugget made its way into your take out bag, McDonald's tried Onion Nuggets on for size.
They were exactly what the said they were—little chunks of onions battered, deep fried and plopped into a box for your displeasure. However, the Nuggets didn't pass the taste test and were soon a thing of the past.
The sandwich that lost its bun in an attempt to speak to your inner fat guy
With its secret recipe and ample side dishes, KFC is a one stop quick shop for fried chicken. In 2010, Colonel Sanders tried to one up himself by busting out the Double Down for chicken lovers everywhere.
The Double Down was a meal that was more than a sandwich. With two kinds of cheese and bacon smashed between two pieces of fried chicken, this bad boy was a monster! But—with a whopping 37 grams of fat and over 1800 mg of sodium—this gem contained enough fat to complete your day and enough sodium to knock you into tomorrow. Because the Double Down packed such a messy punch, the Colonel discontinued this bun-less bomb and went back to the bucket.
The McDonald's attempt to skip the meat so Catholics could eat
In 1961, Ray Kroc thought he had found a way to keep Catholics happy on Fridays during Lent. What he didn't realize was that using pineapple in place of beef does not a good sandwich make—in fact, it's actually pretty gross.
At around the same time, Lou Groen, a McDonald's franchise owner/operator in Ohio, was struggling to figure out how to survive during Lent in an area that was about 87% Catholic. He happened upon the idea of a simple battered, halibut-based sandwich with a slice of cheese between two buns. After bringing the sandwich to corporate, both the Hula Burger and the Filet-O-Fish appeared on the menu in 1962 in select locations—whichever sandwich sold the most would win. The final score? The Hula Burger: 6, The Filet-O-Fish: 350. With subpar sales and a Filet-O-Fish to eat, McDonald's bagged the Hula Burger for good.
The little burgers that failed to make a big impact
In 1987, Burger King decided it wanted to be the ruler of tiny burgers. Burger Bundles came in packs of 3 or 6. These babies were marketed to preteens, but because they were too small for the broiler machines, they ended up falling through the cracks. In 1989, the company revolutionized the burger by smashing two patties together and rolling them through the broiler. However, after poor sales, Burger King threw in the towel on Burger Bundles.
In 2004, the King tried again with Burger Shots, but like their miniature predecessors, they were introduced and quickly forgotten. White Castle remains king of the tiny burger—on January 14, 2014, Time magazine labeled their slider the most influential burger of all time.
The healthy burger that was packed with weird ingredients and literally fell apart
McDonald's makes the list again, but instead of the high-calorie punch we've seen before, this misstep occurred in the name of health.
The company launched the McLean Deluxe in 1991 to appease critics and lure the health-conscious crowd into its restaurants. The McLean had 10 grams of fat, compared to the Big Mac's 26. What this burger wasn't lacking was weird ingredients. With seaweed, water and additives like “beef flavor,” the McLean literally fell apart, and the masses quickly distanced themselves from this flaky mess.
The breakfast sandwich that ultimately failed after being roundly criticized by the press
We all need to grab breakfast on the fly from time to time, but what if your breakfast had a whole day's supply of fat, nearly half of the daily calories needed and enough sodium to make you sweat? In March 2005, Burger King introduced a whopping breakfast sandwich called the Enormous Omelet. They followed it up two months later with the MeatNormous Omelet.
The sandwiches were decided in the press for their high fat and calorie content. The majority of customers took the criticism to heart and turned their noses up at the Enormous Omelet because the most important meal of the day probably shouldn't be your ONLY meal.
The distasteful specialty burger that caused a major scandal
In 2002, McDonald's made one of its biggest "mcstakes" by launching a specially seasoned sandwich in the beautiful and wealthy country of Norway. The problem? The sandwich was named The McAfrika and was introduced just as a major famine affecting 12 million people was occurring in southern Africa.
The public was outraged by company's insensitivity, but McDonald's did not withdraw the burger. Instead, it was offered until September 2002, just as planned. They tried to bring it back for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to pretty much the same disgraced response. Will they ever McLearn?