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These were the biggest menu flops in fast food (MCD, QSR, YUM)

Tech Insider logo Tech Insider 7/15/2018 Jessica Tyler

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  • Fast-food chains often experiment with their menus to try to appeal to new customers or offer healthier options.
  • Even though some of these items take off, many of them end up huge failures.
  • Other items that have been long discontinued include Taco Bell's Seafood Salad, McDonald's Hula Burger, and Wendy's Frescata.

Not every fast-food option can be a best seller.

Some experimental menu items actually end up costing chains millions, like McDonald's Arch Burger, a "gourmet" burger that aimed to appeal to a more adult crowd but failed miserably. McDonald's spent an estimated $150 million to $200 million advertising the Arch Deluxe's rollout, which, at the time, was the most expensive promotional campaign in fast-food history, The New York Times reported.

Other menu items failed because they were just unappetizing, like Taco Bell's Seafood Salad or Domino's Oreo Pizza. 

Here are some fast-food items that didn't make it:  

McDonald's: Hula Burger

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The Hula Burger, introduced in the 1960s, was intended to be a meat-free option for Catholic customers who couldn't eat meat on Fridays during Lent. Positioned to compete against the Filet-o-Fish, the pineapple-and-cheese burger ultimately failed and was pulled from the menu because the Filet-o-Fish was much more popular.

McDonald's: Fish McBites

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Fish McBites were also added to the menu as another fish option, but they failed to do anything to help McDonald's sales and were eventually taken off the menu in 2013. 

McDonald's: McAfrika

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The McAfrika was one of McDonald's worst PR disasters because it was launched in Norway, one of the world's wealthiest countries, when millions in South Africa were starving. The sandwich was made with beef, cheese, and vegetables on a pita, and was quickly pulled from the menu in 2002.

McDonald's: McStuffins

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McStuffins, which look a lot like Hot Pockets, were made from French bread filled with ingredients like pepperoni or teriyaki chicken. McDonald's attempt at Hot Pockets lasted less than a year and were removed from the menu in 1993.

McDonald's: McDLT

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The McDLT, short for McDonald's Lettuce Tomato, separated the lettuce and tomato from the burger, placing them in separate styrofoam containers for "maximum freshness." It was taken off the menu in 1991 after receiving backlash from environmental activists. 

McDonald's: McSalad Shakers

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Introduced in 2000, McSalad Shakers didn't last too long on the McDonald's menu, perhaps because not enough people were interested in buying a shakeable salad. There's a Facebook group full of fans advocating to bring back the Salad Shakers, but it hasn't been active since 2016.

McDonald's: Mighty Wings

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McDonald's Mighty Wings failed for a few reasons, mainly that they were too expensive and too spicy for McDonald's customers' tastes. The were on the menu from 1990 to 2003.

McDonald's: Chicken Fajitas/Breakfast Burritos

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McDonald's briefly tried selling Mexican food, but the fajitas and breakfast burritos were pulled from the menu in the 1990s, most likely because they couldn't complete with Taco Bell's offerings. There's a Facebook group advocating to bring them back, but it only has about 650 likes.

McDonald's: Arch Deluxe

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The Arch Deluxe, which was introduced in 1996, was one of the most expensive failures ever for McDonald's. The advertising budget was upwards of $150 million, according to The New York Times. Even though the Arch Deluxe cost McDonald's millions and was discontinued in the late '90s, the Arch sauce — a mustard-mayo combination — is in testing again, on a new fresh-beef burger called the Archburger.

McDonald's: McSpaghetti

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McSpaghetti was introduced in the 1970s. Even though it was discontinued in the United States, it's still on the menu internationally in the Philippines.

McDonald's: McHotdog

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Even though McDonald's founder Ray Kroc said in his autobiography that the chain would never sell hot dogs because of quality concerns, McDonald's launched the McHotdog in 1995 anyway. It didn't go over well with customers and was later pulled from the menu.

Taco Bell: Waffle Taco

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Taco Bell's Waffle Tacos — scrambled eggs and sausage inside of a folded waffle — received a lot of attention when they were first announced in 2013, but they were eventually replaced by similarly constructed biscuit tacos.

Taco Bell: Seafood Salad

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As a response to fish-fillet sandwiches from other fast-food restaurants, Taco Bell launched the seafood salad in the 1980s. The salad made with shrimp, whitefish, and snow crab did not go over well with customers and was eventually removed from the menu.

Burger King: Burger Shots

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Burger King repeatedly tried to sell sliders, first as Burger Bundles, then as Burger Buddies, and eventually as Burger Shots, which were unpopular and eventually discontinued in 2004.

Burger King: Enormous Omelette Sandwich

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The Enormous Omelette sandwich from Burger King, introduced to the menu in 2005, was mainly discontinued because of health concerns — it had 330 milligrams of cholesterol and 1,940 milligrams of sodium.

Burger King: Satisfries

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Satisfries were a low-calorie alternative to Burger King's traditional fries, but they sold poorly because people preferred the regular french fries. They were discontinued in 2014.

Burger King: Shake Em Up Fries

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Shake 'Em Up fries, launched in 2002, came with a packet of cheese powder that customers had to pour into the bag and shake to make cheese fries.  

McDonald's: McLean Deluxe

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The McLean Deluxe claimed to have 91% less fat than a Big Mac and had seaweed extract in place of fatty content. It was dropped from the menu in 1996.

Dairy Queen: Dairy Queen Breeze

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The Dairy Queen Breeze launched in 1990 as a frozen yogurt alternative to the Blizzard, but it was discontinued in 2000 because sales were disastrous.

Wendy's: Frescata

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This deli-style sandwich was pulled in 2007 after just one year on the menu because it wasn't selling well.

Wendy's: Superbar

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Wendy's used to have an all-you-can-eat salad bar/buffet, but it wasn't quite fast food and eventually proved unsuccessful before being pulled in 1998.

Jack In The Box: Frings

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Frings, introduced in 1979, were a french fry/onion ring combo that was discontinued shortly after being released.

Sonic: Pickle O's

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Pickle O's were initially introduced in 1968 and brought back to the menu in 2003. Even though these fried pickles were officially discontinued, people claim you can still order them simply by asking for fried pickles.

Domino's: Oreo Dessert Pizza

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First offered in 2007, this dessert pizza was quickly discontinued because people claimed it was too sweet.

Pizza Hut: Priazzo

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Made in 1985 to resemble a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, the Priazzo failed because it took too long to prepare for a fast-food establishment. 

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