The McDonald's that we know and love, identified by those iconic Golden Arches, had humble beginnings. The restaurant first opened as McDonald's Bar-B-Q Restaurant in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1940, serving a simple menu of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, and shakes. Over the next several years, founders Dick and Mac McDonald renovated the restaurant and highlighted their $0.15 hamburger.
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Today, McDonald's is the largest hamburger fast-food chain in the world, and serves more than 58 million customers daily. While McDonald's continues to have a set staple menu throughout most of their locations, the chain is continuously trying to invent both local, national and international menu items to bolster its offerings.
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For instance, specialty menu items such as the Big Mac or Chicken McNuggets have been huge commercial successes across the board. But other items have been launched, and have subsequently vanished just as quickly. Items such as the Bacon Bacon McBacon, the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, and the Home-Fried Chicken never quite caught on with American consumers. In local markets, McDonald's has even rolled out items like the McLobster on the East Coast, poutine in Canada, and the McCrab in parts of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia.
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McDonald's continues to roll out new products all the time; some will make it big, others will vanish off the menu without a trace. Below are McDonald's biggest menu flops of all time.
In the 1980s, McDonald's felt it was imperative to compete with other fast-food chains like Domino's and Pizza Hut, and it decided to launch the McPizza as well as other items like a lasagna and a spaghetti dish. Although McDonald's executives believed this would help the menu become more attractive to those looking for traditional dinner items, the McPizza was actually quite unpopular with patrons looking for fast in-and-out service.
4) The Hula Burger
The Hula Burger was the brainchild of owner Ray Kroc. He believed that this meatless burger, containing grilled pineapple with cheese on a bun, would be a perfect option for Catholics who abstain from eating meat during Lent. While the Filet-O-Fish, another Lent-inspired option, still remains popular to this day, the Hula Burger did not enjoy such long-term success.
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One of the seasonal and local menu items that popped up on McDonald's menus in eastern Canada and New England during select summer months was the infamous McLobster. The company produced this faux 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 $5.99, and customers veered away from the expensive special.
Over the years, McDonald's has released international products in different locations across the world, some to great success. However, in 2002, McDonald's released one of the worst menu items and marketing flops in the company's history. The sandwich, the McAfrika (consisting of beef and vegetables in a pita), was released in Norway during some of the worst famines Southern Africa has ever seen. The campaign was believed to be created in such poor taste that McDonald's took the item off its menus and agreed to continue to keep donation boxes for charities in support of the famine in Africa.
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1) Arch Deluxe
When crafting an ad campaign for its Arch Deluxe, McDonald's spent more money on the advertising campaign than it had on any other singular item in its history. Coming in at over $150 million, the Arch Deluxe campaign flopped, making the sandwich a very expensive mistake. The campaign was seeking an upscale demographic, boasting the new sandwich with an "adult" taste and a mustard-mayonnaise sauce. When that didn't work, new TV ads featured Ronald McDonald out partying and playing pool, a certain shift from the restaurant's family-friendly image.
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-Kristen Oliveri, The Daily Meal