The competition among fast food joints for your hard-earned dollars is fierce and brutal. If it’s your job to research and develop the greatest new thing in fast food, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Most new menu items don’t make it past the testing stage, which starts with the test kitchen folks taking the item around the office. “Here, try this,” they tell the receptionist, the maintenance guy, and Tom over in Accounting. They lean in with bated breath as Bonnie in IT chews awkwardly. “Well? What do you think?”
If the corporate stiffs like it, regular joes from outside of the industry will be called in to join a focus group and offer their unbridled opinions. After a little more tweaking based on feedback, the item will be tested in a limited market. If the folks in Reno or Kalamazoo seem to like it, the item goes live nationwide.
Folks flock to the chain to try the new eats. The weirder and wilder the food, it seems, the more hype it gets, and hype is a good thing, especially if the product is destined to be a success. Think Mac n’ Cheetos or Doritos Locos Tacos. But if the item is destined to fail, it will land on the market with a resounding thud. Or worse, to ridicule. For your great reading pleasure, here are some of those.
McDonald’s Hula Burger
Back in 1962, McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc really wanted to lure in the Catholics on Fridays during Lent. So he concocted the Hula Burger to compete against the Filet-O-Fish for a permanent spot on the menu. We already know which sandwich won the match, and the reason is obvious: The Hulu Burger was a slice of grilled pineapple draped in cheese, topped with the usual suspects, and nestled in a hamburger bun. Definitely not most people’s idea of a good time.
Taco Bell’s Seafood Salad
In the 1980s, Taco Bell thought it would be a good idea to shake up their menu with something to compete against the Filet-O-Fish. They introduced the Seafood Salad, a taco bowl full of vegetables, shrimp, and a mixture of white fish and snow crab. Not surprisingly, most people found it rather unappetizing, and a few too many people reported food poisoning after consuming it. It was quickly and quietly pulled from the menu.
Burger King’s Enormous Omelette Sandwich
It seemed like a good idea at the time to lure in consumers with the promise of a big, filling breakfast in a single, enormous sandwich. The Enormous Omelette Sandwich consisted of two eggs, two slices of cheese, three strips of bacon, and a sausage patty: A sit-down diner breakfast on a ginormous toasted bun. Problem was, most folks really don’t want a huge, filling breakfast. Especially one with 730 calories and 47 grams of fat.
Just say it a few times: McLobster. McClobster. McGlobster. These are not appetizing sounds, and the idea of McDonald’s mass-producing lobster sandwiches is not an appetizing thought. At least, that was the consensus of the masses when the McLobster was introduced to Canada in 2013. It was, obviously, quickly un-introduced, but its name lives on in infamy in Ontario and Toronto.
Burger King’s SatisFries
In 2013, Burger King made a wholehearted attempt to appeal to health-conscious consumers. Their crinkle-cut Satisfries promised a delicious French fry with 40 percent less fat and 30 percent fewer calories than the real-deal, as if that were even remotely possible. Well, after Satisfries turned out to be a major flop, go figure, it became clear that when Americans are looking for a French fry fix, we aren’t thinking too hard about the calories and fat. We just want crisp, golden, fried-up potaters gleaming with grease and sparkling with salt. Mmmmm.
But, you know, at least these guys all gave it a shot. They followed their bliss. Better to try and fail than to not try at all, right? At any rate, it’s always fun to keep up with the latest fast food releases just to see which become the latest craze and which fizzle out and end up on lists like this one.