The Big Mac, The Whopper, KFC Chicken, and the Pepperoni Pizza are some of the most classic and well known fast food items in the world. Unfortunately, many other fast food items over recent decades have not been met with the same excitement. So on that note, here are the Top 10 Fast Food Items That Totally Failed.
Burger King’s Satisfries
Starting things off are Burger King Satisfries — one of this list’s failed products that were developed in order to please the growing demands for healthier options. In this case, Burger King missed the mark by offering “healthier fries” that displayed a series of failures on the company’s behalf. To begin, the supposedly healthy fries were really not much different in nutritional value when compared to both the original Burger King fries and french fries from other fast food establishments. In addition to this, it is rather bizarre to think about the additional steps required in order to make french fries, one of the supposedly worst foods, a good nutritional choice. What restaurants are now realizing through these past failures is that people are willing to eat the french fries and consume the calories that come with them. The fries don’t have to be more expensive and healthier! Just offer veggie sticks or side salads as alternatives. In the end, people who wanted fries just ordered fries.
McDonald’s Salad Shakers
One of the most fun and iconic items on this list comes from McDonald’s. In the year 2000, as brands began to focus on the new millennium and new healthier lifestyles, McDonald’s decided to add an exciting and fun addition to the menu: Salad Shakers! The fun aspect of this menu item was all in the way you mixed the salad with the dressing. The Salad Shaker itself came in what would resemble a slurpee or icee cup — without the hole in the lid for the straw. The clear plastic cup would allow for consumers to view the entirety of the fresh ingredients in all their glory. The best part? Adding the dressing and shaking the salad up! Instead of mixing the dressing with a fork or a container that is guaranteed to leak, salad shakers perfected a technique used by home cooks and office lunchers for years! The shakers came in three varieties including Garden, Caesar and Chef Salad. It was these fresh salads that helped start the salad craze that has now seen salads as a mainstay option at most fast food establishments! Although these salads were significantly popular, McDonald’s chose to replace the Shakers with a line of specialty premium salads only three years after their launch.
Wendy’s Frescata Sandwiches
As Wendy’s continued to revitalize its menu during the mid 2000’s, having been one of the first restaurants to begin offering salads, the restaurant began to notice a new trend in fast food dining in which they decided to take part. As sub and deli style restaurants such as Subway, Quiznos and Jimmy John’s continued to eat up lunch and dinner sales, Wendy’s pursued its own launch of fresh deli sandwiches to appease the changing taste tide. Over the course of the product’s run, there were 5 sandwiches available: Ham & Swiss, Turkey & Swiss, Turkey with Basil Pesto, the Chunky Chicken Salad and the Frescata Club. Unfortunately, what Wendy’s missed in its “Frescata” sandwiches was the advertised freshness. Although in comparison to other Wendy’s menu items at the time such as the burger or chili and fries, the Frescata sandwiches offered a much lighter taste. But the handmade fresh to order sub sandwiches being offered by competitors proved too much competition for the Frescata line. In addition to the fact that the sandwiches were supposedly extremely time consuming to make, it was not long before these sandwiches were permanently removed from the Wendy’s menu.
Taco Bell’s Seafood Salad
While many would presume that to compete with McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich, Taco Bell would emerge with some phenomenal fish tacos… they would be wrong. Instead, in 1986 Taco Bell put forth a Seafood Salad in hopes of increasing sales and to compete against the Mickey D’s fish sandwich that at the time, was incredibly popular and rather indivisible in terms of consumer enjoyment. Some may be wondering how a Seafood Salad is supposed to compete with a fried fish sandwich. This extreme difference in approach to the fish dish was purposely done. Taco Bell advertised against using fried fish asking why people would want fish so heavily processed when it is already very delicious without any additional help. The salad started with a crispy taco bowl filled with a bed of lettuce. It was then topped with tomato, black olive, cheese, green onions, shrimp and crab. The fresh salad was supposed to crush the competition with its innovative and forward thinking ideology. Unfortunately, the sales of the salad were never enough to secure this menu item as a longtime addition and the Seafood Salad was removed from the menu incredibly quickly. Taco Bell is a restaurant that is always willing to push the envelope in terms of how the Taco can be reinvented for mass consumption. Unfortunately, in terms of the Seafood Salad, it may have been better if this one was left in the test kitchen.
Pizza Hut’s Priazzo
In the 1980’s, it seemed in terms of fast food, many restaurants were focussed on the classic motto “the bigger the better”. Impressive large hamburgers began to emerge and in an attempt to re-establish themselves as a filling take home family dinner option, Pizza Hut unveiled the Priazzo Pizza. When thinking of a Priazzo Pizza, imagine one of the most intense stuffed crust pizzas ever created. These pizzas were impressive in size, which although exciting, would inevitably be their downfall. This may be the first time in history that a pizza was actually too big! The pizza started with a deep-dish dough layer stuffed with the selected toppings. This layer would then be sealed with dough and another pizza layer with cheese would be crafted on top. The entire thing would then be baked for an incredibly cheesy experience. Upon launching, the Priazzo pizzas were offered in three mouth watering flavors: the Roma, the Florentine, and the Milano, which all featured an assortment of different meat and vegetable toppings. In the end, the pizzas were failures for the same reason that many other new menu items seem to fail: time consumption. The time required to cook these pizzas and the differences in cooking temperatures led to this item being removed from the market before it was able to shine on very many family dinner tables.
McDonald’s Hula Burger
This specialty item is one of the very first new items ever created, and inevitably discontinued, by one of the biggest names in the fast food industry, McDonald’s. The story behind the Hula burger is absolutely fascinating. In the 60’s as McDonald’s franchises continued to expand, there was a noticeable decline in sales in the Catholic parts of town, where practitioners often abstain from meat on Fridays. Ray Kroc, a McDonald’s legend, decided to attempt to sell a grilled pineapple burger topped with a cheese slice. At the same time, a McDonald’s franchisee suggested and released the “filet-o-fish” sandwich. As sales went, the fish sandwich was able to beat out the competition hands down and as quickly as it arrived on the menu, the Hula Burger was gone. Although the burger may have not been popular at the time of its original creation, it would be interesting to see if this burger could find a much greater market as globalization has greatly expanded the possible reach of this sandwich. As veganism expands across the Americas, and McDonald’s continues to expand into nations with different flavor preferences, traditions and meal requirements, it will be fascinating to see if this sandwich has a chance of potentially finding a new home over 50 years later on the McDonald’s menu!
Taco Bell’s Mountain Dew A.M.
This item is by far one of the most bizarre items that a fast food restaurant has ever tried. In an attempt to compete with morning breakfast drinks, Taco Bell decided to take an extremely interesting approach to their breakfast menu. Instead of focusing on specialty teas, coffees or juices, Taco Bell focused on creating a non-alcoholic version of the modern day screwdriver. Instead of adding vodka to orange juice and ice, Mountain Dew A.M. opted to replace the morning brunch beverage with good old Mountain Dew. Many believed that Mountain Dew, a traditional drink of gamers and partiers alike, may provide the additional sugar needed to be compared to a morning energy drink or caffeinated hot drink. Unfortunately, the company missed the mark by forgetting one major factor — nobody wanted to drink Mountain Dew in the morning — no matter how much Tropicana orange juice was added. Although many of Taco Bell’s iconic items have been able to make the transition from dinner to breakfast easily, it has not been the same case for Mountain Dew. Breakfast burritos are a classic example of how a menu item can be perfectly adapted for any time of day. Unfortunately, someone should have realized that although Mountain Dew is fun and exciting, it does not hold the same versatility needed to make it as a specialty breakfast drink. For that reason, Mountain Dew A.M. was gone nearly as early as it began. The good news is, any true Mountain Dew fans can easily create a DIY version from home! Just maybe not for breakfast.
Tim Hortons Beyond Meat Burger
Tim Hortons has been a long-standing favorite among Canadians — and some lucky Americans — for their morning breakfast stop. Nearly every early morning shift or proper road trip starts with a quick stop at the Tim Hortons drive thru. When the company unveiled a new Beyond Meat Burger, it seems that many long time fans began to turn their backs on a familiar brand. After a series of bizarre product and branding additions including everything from Timbits cereal to canned chicken soup on grocery store shelves, and chicken fingers to various new sandwich options in stores, Tim Hortons decided to jump on the train of restaurants providing new meatless options aimed towards pleasing the growing vegetarian and vegan market. Tim’s introduced the Beyond Meat Burger to the menu in 2019 alongside several “Beyond Meat” breakfast sandwich options. This was only another misstep in a series of failures from the Tim Hortons brand in recent years. After low sales, the company chose to remove the option from the menu in early 2020 stating that customers were simply continuing to buy the regular versions of the sandwiches. Perhaps a sandwich focusing on removing the meat, instead of just replacing it would have provided better sales. Tim Hortons is now moving to a simpler version of the original brand refocusing on the basic bakery and drink items that were able to gain them such popularity decades ago.
KFC’s Double Down
While many of the items we’ve looked at came about because of a need to update to a newer, healthier, and fresher menu, in 2010 KFC decided to move in the opposite direction with one of the most polarizing sandwiches of all time. The only thing that everyone can agree on about this sandwich is that it definitely has the right name! The Double Down’s entire promotional aspect revolved around how this sandwich is so much chicken, they had to skip out on the buns, instead swapping them for two pieces of chicken and then adding bacon and cheese to the middle. The sandwich sparked fierce debate as many felt the restaurant may have crossed a line in terms of the overtly greasy and fatty dish. However, many admired the restaurant for its ingenuity and its willingness to push the envelope in terms of flavor and excitement! The sandwich was popular, but the initial sales were not able to hold up the intense backlash. The lack of continued sales for the Double Down, was the main reason it was removed. Apparently though, Canada has a secret love affair with this KFC sandwich. The Double Down returned to Canadian locations in 2011, 2012, 2015 and again in 2018. Even more exciting, the 2018 version kicked it up another notch by filling the chicken “buns” with a maple syrup aioli and added a hot Belgian waffle. Devilishly delicious!
McDonald’s has had more than a few failures along its trail as one of the world’s most popular fast food chains. Few are likely to forget about one of McDonald’s largest brand failures, McPizza. As pizza continued to rise in popularity through the 1980’s McDonald’s thought they would try and get themselves a slice of the pie. Unfortunately for them, McDonald’s Pizza would not be nearly the money maker that was originally intended. One of the biggest issues with the pizza, and one of the major contributors to its failures, was the time consuming process that pizza-making takes. Although 10 minutes does not seem an obscene amount of time to wait for a fresh pizza, when compared to the ridiculously fast paced speed of McDonald’s other menu items, it was. Hundreds of burgers can be sold in the same time that it was taking to craft just one McPizza. The timely process was also a significant issue in regards to drive thru orders. Although the pizza was designed as a take home meal, McDonald’s — being a fast paced restaurant — was not, and the pizza could not even fit through the drive-thru windows. In the end, the task of remodeling all of the McDonald’s franchises to accommodate the fan-named “McPizza”, would be a far too costly and time consuming procedure. And the pizza was left in the 90’s — where many would agree it should stay!