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Dale’s Daily Data: McDonald’s Menu Flops

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It really was a simple concept – hamburgers, cheeseburgers, French fries, milkshakes, soft drinks or coffee.  Those were the only things that you could get during McDonald’s early days.  Burgers were only 15 cents, fries were a dime and your choice of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry shakes were only 20 cents.  Think of it – you could take your best girl out on a cheap date to McDonald’s and you could both eat for less than a buck.  Wow, those were the days.

But over time McDonald’s needed to expand its menu to appeal to people who wanted more than just a burger.  One issue that founder Ray Kroc had to deal with was meatless Fridays in areas of the country that were heavily Catholic.  Many Catholics still abstain from meat during Lent, but years ago Catholics were obliged to refrain from eating meat on Fridays throughout the year.  It affected sales at McDonald’s, so Kroc introduced the Filet-o-fish sandwich.  It’s been hugely successful ever since.  Then of course came the Big Mac, Quarter pounders, Chicken sandwiches, Chicken McNuggets, Happy Meals, even salads and Egg McMuffins.  But there have been some menu failures. 

How about the Hula burger?  Grilled pineapple with cheese on a bun.  It was introduced in the early 1960’s as another alternative on meatless Fridays.  It was a flop.

And so was McPizza.  It was an attempt to attract a larger dinner crowd.  They even experimented with spaghetti and lasagna.  But for people accustomed to fast food, a lot of McDonald’s customers were irritated with the long wait for a made-to-order pizza.

I remember giving the Arch Deluxe a try.  They served it in a double Styrofoam package to keep the burger warm on one side and the lettuce, tomato and a secret mustard-mayonnaise sauce cold on the other.  It was McDonald’s try at attracting a more sophisticated adult taste.  Most people gave it a try – once.

And not too many people think of McDonald’s when they’re trying to lose weight.  That’s why the McLean Deluxe was such a failure.  It was advertised as 91 percent fat free.  McDonald’s tried to replace the fat with water and the secret was in a seaweed extract used to bind the water to the beef.  They even tried to add natural flavoring to account for the absence of taste.  Even if they could get people to try it, it would be the first and last time. 

SOURCE: How Stuff Works

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