6 Fast Food Fails
The Big Mac. The Whopper. Whatever the hell White Castle thinks it’s doing. These are the fast food items that linger in our minds and colons. But for every burger, taco or chicken success, there were countless menu options that America just couldn’t stomach…
In 1962 McDonald’s introduced the Hula Burger, a pineapple slice with cheese for Roman Catholics who couldn’t eat meat during Lent but didn’t mind eating things cooked on meat-soaked grills. In 1991 McDonald’s introduced the McLean Deluxe, a healthy alternative for those who felt what burgers really needed was more seaweed. And in between they unleashed another failure, the McDLT, a burger stored in a double-sided Styrofoam container that kept “the hot side hot and the cool side cool” by simply separating the beef patty from the lettuce and tomato in their own detention centers. Consumers could then either assemble their own damn meal or pretend they ordered a meat pancake with a crappy side salad as they gently sobbed in the privacy of their own car. Alas, the McDLT was pulled over environmental concerns that the hundreds of thousands of Styrofoam containers used would last even longer than the parasites you just ingested, thus ending both an experiment in temperature control and an ad campaign featuring a young, singing George Costanza.
Enormous Omelet Sandwich
In the 1970’s Burger King decided to rip off the McDonaldland characters (who in turn were sued for ripping off a Saturday morning TV show), and introduced “Burger King Kingdom,” featuring such fast food friends as a shivering Sir Shake-A-Lot, some wizard robot powered by fries and, of course, the magically-powered Burger King. Eventually all these characters were hung or guillotined or whatever happens in a fast food sovereign state, except for the Burger King. Instead, he reappeared three decades later wearing a “V for Vendetta”-like mask to unveil the Enormous Omelet Sandwich, a breakfast meal consisting of eggs, cheese, bacon, and sausage as well as perhaps pancakes, waffles, Skittles, and another breakfast sandwich. This was quickly followed by the Meat'normous Omelet Sandwich, which answered the question, “What if we just shove another pig in there?” Eventually both items were pulled probably after a huge surge in pre-K heart attacks. But the Burger King character remains, no doubt ready to introduce a new lunch item that’s actually two dinners stapled together.
Domino's Oreo Dessert Pizza
Not so much a commercial failure as a complete failure of human survival instincts, the limited-time-only Oreo Pizza was the sort of menu item five-year-old boys would make if left unattended and they had no access to poo to make “Stink Burgers.” Ranking right up there with “breakfast vodka” in nutritional value, the “dessert pizza” was not a giant Oreo—or, thank God, an Oreo covered in marinara sauce—but rather what a hundred Oreos would look like if they got into a bus crash. To make matters worse, the pizza was promoted with one of the most unappetizing commercials since Arby’s ad campaign for, well, Arby’s. Rumor is the Oreo Dessert Pizza is still being sold somewhere, out there, just waiting to be consumed as a result of a series of escalating bar bets.
Burger King Table Service
Believing the one thing lacking from fast food was a nice leisurely pace—or hoping to transform itself into a romantic dinner destination for people who didn’t want a second date—Burger King offered an unusual take on table service. You still had to order your food at the counter, you still had to get your own drink, you still had to fill your own cough syrup plastic cup full of ketchup, but then you got to sit at a table and wait for your food to be served as you ate complimentary popcorn. Then 30 minutes later you walked back to the counter to check on your order, only to be told the wait staff was on a smoke break. Then you went back to your table and killed time by dipping free popcorn into free ketchup. Then a half hour later you went back to the counter again only to see they now sold ketchup-dipped popcorn. And they had phased out table service. And the wait staff had eaten your meal.
An all-you-can-eat fast food Mexican/Italian/Salad/Dessert buffet for just $2.99? Who could argue with that except for anyone with even the slightest knowledge of how quickly contagions are spread? In fact, Wendy’s experiment in food troughs was actually a huge success, drawing in budget-minded consumers who wanted ethnic food but wanted to eat it in a place that made The Olive Garden look like a study abroad program by comparison. It also attracted countless parents who realized that they could simply park their kids in front of the pasta section while they had a much-needed romantic getaway in the men’s room. But the dream was not meant to last as Wendy’s realized having people pull up a chair to the taco-meat tray and eat straight from the serving ladle for three hours went against the very notion of “fast food” or “profits.” And so the idea of an endless fast food buffet disappeared until 20 years later when KFC shoved the whole experience into a Famous Bowl and said, “We dare you.”
The most expensive fast food failure of all time, the Arch Deluxe was part of McDonald’s plan to alter its image from that of a clown approaching unsupervised children to a place adults would be willing to enter sober and in broad daylight with minimal shame. Essentially a Quarter Pounder on a different bun, the Arch Deluxe was advertised as “The Burger with the Grown-Up Taste,” leading many to speculate that finally someone had found a way to turn Scotch into food. Instead, what people got was a series of commercials featuring pissed off kids saying things like "I don't get it" and “You don’t even get a toy with it!” When this failed to attract the lucrative “child-hating market,’ a whole new ad campaign was created showing Ronald McDonald attending such adult venues as pool halls and nightclubs, leading people to wonder if a drunk clown would get lucky or simply get beaten. Unfortunately, none of these commercials currently appear on YouTube, and so the only recorded memory of the Arch Deluxe is the above ad featuring a young Jessica Biel in her best role to date as someone who doesn’t have a single line.
What are some other fast food fails? Let us know in the comments