The Culinary Failures of McDonalds, a brief overview.

McDonalds is one of those things everyone knows about and secretly has at least one menu item that they love. Sure, you can pretend you only eat organically raised blah blah blah with open-range na na na and it is all because you have evolved past the mechanized era of food processing into a new space once occupied by European peasant farmers, who had to have been not only eating more healthy things than we do but also who must, of a surety, have also possessed a keen sense of superiority due to this provincial diet. In reality, we’re all just dbags that shop at WholeFoods because it is more expensive and trendy. Also, a lot of the things there are superior in flavor but I digress: not everyone can afford a .99 cent cucumber. Let’s be real. For those lates nights when WholeFoods wouldn’t dare be caught in operation, or for those moments of nostalgic depression, most Americans in the US and abroad turn to Ronald McDonald for their fix. There’s a good reason why McDonalds is one of the most popular franchises in the world: it seems that everything made there has been infused with a certain, intangible yet tasty quality that renders most incapable of resisting its siren song, especially after a long night of pub-crawls and hazy escapades.

But McDonald’s has also had its share of failures, like all big companies. Below I will enumerate a few of them, as well as request a few items that need to be RETURNED to the menu. I don’t often get to eat at McDonalds, mainly because it is unhealthy and quite expensive when you’re really just craving a little something more than the dollar menu. So, let’s begin:
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The McLobster

Doesn’t that look appealing? The McLobster is a regional speciality offered by McDonald’s in New England and the adjacent Canadian states like Quebec, Nova Scotia and maybe even Prince Edward Island. It is McDonald’s take on the classic New England Lobster Roll, which also appears just as terrifying as the above picture but tastes delicious. At least that is what I hear. I have yet to encounter a delicious Lobster Roll and have found most of them to be soggy messes of fat and ratty looking lobster meat, so I fail to see how McDonalds could do much worse. If you know a good suggestion for Lobster Rolls in Boston and the surrounding area, let me know. Don’t suggest Kelly’s.

The McGratin Croquette

A Japan-only product that contains deep fried macaroni, shrimp and potatoes. How could something like that fail? I’m going to go with: appearance. That looks about as appealing as a soggy gym sock between two slices of WonderBread with some Kraft cheese. Actually, that would probably be delicious in comparison. But deep fried macaroni? Hmmm. I think Denny’s is doing something similar currently with its ‘Let’s Get Cheesy’ line of sandwiches. When I think of Denny’s + extra cheese I don’t say ‘Let’s Get Cheesy’ usually I think, ‘Aftereffects may be greasy.’

The McSpaghetti

A McDonalds Japan and Hong Kong delight: the McSpaghetti is a platter of white spaghetti noodles with tomato sauce and cheese served with a fried chicken drumstick or McNuggets. Yum.

The McHot Dog

This item I have had in Japan before where I believe it is classified as a ‘Breakfast Menu’ item. That thought is kind of scary but not really because a hotdog is just another sausage so when you think about it that way there’s really nothing terrible about it in the morning. Just saying.

The Big ‘N Tasty

This one actually has a Wikipedia article to attest to its epic failure. Designed to compete with Burger Kings Whopper (it didn’t have a chance from the beginning – who emulates a Whopper?), McDonalds Big ‘N Tasty is a quarter-pound (4 oz, 113.4 g) beef patty, sesame seed bun, lettuce, tomato slice, ketchup, mayonnaise, chopped onions, two pickle slices, and grill seasoning. Some people add mustard. There are also a plethora of regional variants, like the McOz which had beetroot in addition to the above.

The Hula Burger

I believe the Hula Burger was originally developed by McDonalds mastermind Ray A. Kroc as a Friday lenten meal alternative to the burgers offered by McDonalds. Catholics, as you may or may not be aware, by religious stricture do not consume meat during the lenten season so not only was the Hula Burger meant to fill a visible market gap in predominantly Northeaster Roman Catholic communities, but also was intended to convey the flavor, texture and appearance of a traditional McDonalds burger. Sadly to say, this failed but from its ashes arose the Filet-o-Fish which is offered at a special rate during Lent.

The Pizza and McPizza

This is probably a case of stick to what you know, but it doesn’t look half bad in the above picture. I think the McDonalds theorem applies in this case, however, which is stated as thus: McDonalds advertorial picture + Actual Production in Store / Time in Minutes = Dysentery. McDonalds had stiff competition from pizza joints in the 1980s like Pizza Hut and Dominoes so the introduction of the McDonalds Pizza to pull customers away from those two chains is not surprising. Also not surprising, the pizzas took a long time to make and weren’t worth it when finished. The McPizza was the resurrection of the McDonalds Pizza and was a kind of handheld, pre-HotPocket type of pizza. It also, unsurprisingly, failed to catch on in the market.


No bacon to be found, nor any relation whatsoever to the BLT sandwich for that matter. The selling point of the McDLT was its ability to keep the lettuce and tomato cold by placing them in a separate container from the cooked patty. I kid you not, that was the signature of this sandwich. No wonder it failed. Add bacon, scrap the gimmick and bam! Possible success.

McLean Deluxe

Advertised as 91% fat free, the McLean Deluxe is an amazing example of how anything can pass a taste test. To get it to stay together McDonalds replaced the fat with seaweed to give it a coherent patty shape. Disgusting by all applicable measures.


Beef, tomatoes, cheese and salad on pita bread. Released during a famine in southern Africa in 2002. Not the best timing. Otherwise, it doesn’t look that bad at all.

Arch Deluxe

The Arch Deluxe probably wasn’t that bad, but it was, like many things on this list, marketed poorly. This was another one of McDonalds attempts at capturing the dinner market by crafting a burger specifically for adults.

A special request for McDonalds: bring back the salad shakers.

There is a Facebook group devoted to this cause, and I implore you to advocate for this lost culinary masterpiece. Convenient, delicious, and didn’t make a total mess like most things. In a future piece I will explore the McDonalds offerings of the world as well as the differences in the traditional menu as customized to suit local tastes and dietary needs.

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