In many ways, fast food chains are like reality TV celebrities: we cheer for them when they succeed, but when they fail miserably we secretly have a chuckle at their expense. While every chain has its fair share of successes (without them they would have gone the way of the dodo), at times they’ve also fallen, and fallen hard. Here are 11 of the most embarrassing failures in the history of fast food.
When a fast food chain’s executives decide to introduce a new menu item, a lengthy, expensive process is set in motion. It’s not like somebody pushes a button at headquarters and the new item just appears on menus system-wide; millions of dollars need to be spent on market research, development, ingredient sourcing, recipe testing, staff training, and product rollout, not to mention marketing and advertising. Every new item is a gamble, and it’s not always one that pays off.
Some chains, like In-N-Out, are perfectly content to stick with a simple, unchanging menu, and some customers are perfectly content to not try anything new. But at some point, every chain gets the itch to roll out something different, something that might tap into the zeitgeist at just the right moment, and fly off out of the kitchen.
Sometimes chains strike gold with a new release; just look at Taco Bell’s now-legendary Doritos Locos, which generated more than a billion dollars in revenue for the chain within months of its release. But for every Doritos Locos, there are 10 Pizza Hut Priazzos. Read on to learn about 11 fast food items that those chains probably wish you would completely forget about.
McDonald’s: Arch Deluxe
In 1996, McDonald’s spent more money on the advertising campaign for this burger than it had on any other single item in its history. A quarter-pounder on a split-top potato bun with add-ons like circular peppered bacon, lettuce, Spanish onions, and a mustard-mayo sauce that the company spent more than $150 million to market, The Arch Deluxe flopped, making the sandwich a very expensive mistake.
For a period in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Wendy's expanded their salad bar into a full "Superbar" buffet. Salad, fruit, Mexican fare, and pasta were all available for a low price (usually $2.99), and it was a big success. Too much of a success, actually: it was difficult for employees to keep the buffet stocked and clean while performing their usual behind-the-counter duties, and customers would help themselves to a few too many free refills. The Superbar disappeared in 1998, and Wendy's discontinued all salad bars in 2006.