Some innovated fast-food items and their associated advertising campaigns were clearly doomed from the outset.
This was the case in 1992 with Burger King’s table service, which tapped Dan Cortese of “MTV Sports” to endorse its dinner baskets line under the brilliantly creative slogan “I love this place.” While waiting for a pimply teenager to emerge from behind the counter with their entrée choice of a traditional Whopper, fried chicken, shrimp basket or broiled meatloaf sandwich, diners were offered complimentary popcorn as an appetizer.
Check out this video of Cortese bugging REAL customers eating at Burger King. Whoa buddy, it’s a throwback, so just sit back and enjoy the nineties-ness.
In honor of the fast-food items that have been dusted off to make a comeback, such as Burger King’s hot ham and cheese Yumbo sandwich, here are 14 other items that have been discontinued. In many cases, it’s not hard to see why.
First up, the beef behemoth of fast food, McDonald’s.
Yes, the Golden Arches of French fry fame sold a lobster-type roll option. Launched in 1993, they are only still available seasonally in some northeastern states and parts of Canada.
Founder Ray Kroc’s great idea to feed hungry Catholic customers who don’t eat meat on Fridays was a grilled pineapple sandwich with cheese. Called the Hula Burger, it danced itself right out of a menu spot because the Filet-O-Fish sold more at select locations on Good Friday 1962.
Launched in the late 1970s, this pasta perversion was an item on McDonald’s dinner menu, which also included lasagna and fettuccine Alfredo.
Making its debut in 1996, this sandwich was marketed toward adults with refined burger taste. The quarter-pound burger came on a potato bun with “secret” mustard and mayonnaise. Mickey Dee’s spent more than $300 million in marketing for the Arch Deluxe — and is, to this day, one of the biggest flops of all time.
This American staple was introduced in Midwest locations in 1995, and is still available — as a breakfast item — in Japan. Kroc, despite customer demand, famously forbid selling franks because he wasn’t comfortable with the mystery meat inside. So take some health advice from the founder of McDonald’s and maybe don’t order the hot dog.
This 1980s burger slyly separated the burger patty and bottom bun from its veggie and sauce compliments with two connected Styrofoam containers. Not only was the packaging terrible for the environment, customers had to put the burger together themselves prior to face stuffing.
Last and maybe least, company executives at McDonald’s thought the humble onion was poised to be a big hit snack option when paired with a beefsteak sandwich — really just a longer hamburger — on the new dinner menu for the 1980s.
And now onto the greatest misses from the bastion of flame-broiled beef, Burger King:
ENORMOUS OMELETTE SANDWICH
This breakfast monstrosity featured sausage patties, bacon, eggs and cheese on a sesame seed bun. And if that wasn’t enough, you could go for the Meat’normous, which included all of the above and ham. While it had 37 grams of protein, the sandwich consisted of 45 grams of fat and nearly 2,000 milligrams of sodium. Introduced in 2005, its reveal boosted breakfast sales, but the item was later removed. And our hearts rested a little easier after this giant heart attack on a roll was killed.
BURGER KING SLIDERS
Beginning in 1987, “The Home of The Whopper” sold mini-burgers under three different incarnations. First they were called Burger Bundles, then Burger Buddies and finally BK Burger Shots. The items sold well, but problems arose when the smaller patties slipped through the trademark broilers; they’ve since been discontinued.
Now onto Wendy’s:
In 2007, everyone’s favorite freckled redhead introduced deli-style sandwiches to stores. Because they took a long time to prepare — and who goes to Wendy’s for a cold sandwich anyway? — they were soon gone for good.
Many stores had a salad bar for years, but the chain tried to expand this offering with a full buffet in the late 1980s and 1990s. They featured a salad and fruit station called the Garden Spot, and Mexican and Italian stations called Mexican Fiesta and Pasta Pasta. It was affordable, at around $2.99 for all-you-can-eat, but hard to maintain and keep-well stocked, and all were removed by 2006.
And now some samplings from other fast-food chains:
JACK IN THE BOX FRINGS
A combination of French fries and onion rings, these actually sound pretty good, no? They surfaced in 1979 and were gone within a few years.
SONIC PICKLE O’S
Americans love fried foods, and fast-food joints had pickles and deep fryers, so why not? But sadly, these were not a hit and have been relegated to Sonic’s “secret menu” despite being available in some Southern locations.
TACO BELL BEEFER
This gut bomb from the late 1970s was basically a sloppy joe sandwich that lasted until the early ’80s when the chain opted to just stick with the Mexican-inspired menu that it’s now known for.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.