Unlike many of the other items on our list, the McLobster didn’t fail because it didn’t taste good. It failed because McDonald’s forgot who its customers were and their pricing comfort level. Essentially, the McLobster is shreds of lobster meat and lettuce tossed in a hot dog bun and covered with McLobster sauce. At around $6, this seafood treat was simply too expensive for the average fast food connoisseur. As a result, it quickly disappeared from McDonald’s menu; however, it occasionally makes special appearances in Canada and parts of New England.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, McDonald’s thought it would try its hand at Italian and introduced a variety of Italian-themed dishes, including spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, fettuccine Alfredo and roasted chicken. As you would imagine, their efforts bombed. When it came to a great pasta dish or pizza, the last place people thought of was a fast-food chain like McDonald’s, especially when tastier versions of these dishes could be purchased at their local Italian restaurant or pizzeria.
Another epic fail for McDonald’s was the McAfrica. The name alone warrants a “What were they thinking?” But worst still is the fact that McDonald’s released this sandwich, which consisted of meat, cheese and vegetables in a pita, in 2002 when there was widespread famine throughout South Africa. Not only that: The epidemic was receiving large amounts of national and international coverage at the time. Saying that offering the McAfrica during this period was in poor taste would be an understatement. The public backlash was so severe that McDonald’s pulled the item from its menu and even began to carry donation boxes for famine relief in its restaurants.
2 Arch Deluxe
In 1996, McDonald’s wanted to increase its profit margins among adult consumers, so it created the Arch Deluxe. Spending approximately $150 million in advertising—more than McDonald’s had ever spent on any one campaign—the fast food giant targeted the upscale market with commercials depicting Ronald McDonald partying and playing golf. However, the Arch Deluxe was anything but sophisticated. It was nothing more than a quarter-pound burger with cheese, onions, bacon, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, and a mustard-mayonnaise sauce. The burger, along with the ad campaign, flopped miserably.
1 McLean Deluxe
In an attempt to capture the health-conscious market back in 1991, McDonald’s introduced the McLean Deluxe. Marketed as a “low fat but tastes great” burger alternative, the McLean Deluxe was 91 percent fat-free. The missing fat was replaced with water and carrageenan, also known as seaweed. This held the meat—if you want to call it that—together. Needless to say, the McLean Deluxe failed miserably. Apparently, it didn’t taste so great. With only water and seaweed as the burger’s core ingredients, we’re not surprised.