Bringing a brand-new fast food item into the world is anything but an exact science. You can do all the planning, field testing, and marketing in the world, but at the end of the day, there’s no way to know whether a new release will sell or not until it’s unleashed on the public.
McDonald’s is the largest burger chain in America, and also the one under the most scrutiny. When they roll out a new menu item nationally, it’s usually met with a huge amount of fanfare as well as a major push to make sure that as many folks as possible are aware of it. So when an item fails, it fails spectacularly and embarrassingly.
While McDonald’s has a set menu at most of their locations, the chain is continuously testing out new items, usually in a handful of local markets, in order to try to get an idea of how they’d fare nationally. Many items, like the BBQ Chicken, Corn Dog McNuggets, and Catfish Sandwich, never made it past the local testing phase, and some items, like the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and a bratwurst, are still only on the menu regionally. Some items were tested out seasonally to see how they fared as well, never to return once the season ended. International McDonald’s are even more adventurous, with some truly outrageous creations making it to menus, also meeting with various levels of success.
So from a sandwich that caused an international outrage to a handful of misguided forays into completely different styles of cuisine, read on to learn about 12 failed menu items that McDonald’s would probably prefer you completely forgot about altogether.
In the Mid-1990s, McDonald’s launched a campaign allowing customers to “Super-Size” their meal for an added fee. For a while, the idea sold, and customers around the world were bulking up their orders, as well as calorie counts. After the release of the documentary Super-Size Me, which exposed the dangers of McDonald’s and fast food in general, the concept of super-sizing a meal went rapidly downhill, resulting in the company pulling it from menus in 2004.
One of the seasonal menu items that popped up on McDonald’s menus in eastern Canada from time to time (including last year) was the McLobster. The company produced this 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 $6.50, customers veered away from the expensive special, and it isn't likely to return.