- In the past decade, fast-food brands have had to innovate to keep customers coming back.
- These innovations have ranged from bland attempts at “healthy” food to wacky concoctions that failed to resonate.
- Read on for the 14 biggest fast-food menu item flops of the past decade.
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In the past decade, fast-food brands have attempted to reinvent themselves several times. Not all of the reinventions stuck.
As the world changed and waistlines grew, Americans turned away from supersize culture and started choosing different kinds of foods. The tried-and-true just wasn’t good enough anymore, and fast-food brands had to come up with ways to innovate and win the hearts of customers yet again.
Some brands tried to offer healthier options, while others went the wacky route. Some did both at the same time. From Fish McBites to Satisfries, here are the 14 biggest fast-food flops of the past decade.
Burger King’s bacon sundae (2012)
Does stale bacon mixed with goopy soft-serve sound appealing to you? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Business Insider tried the bacon sundae when it came out in 2012, but taste-testers were not big fans.
Arby’s fish sandwich (on and off)
Fish sandwiches have been on-again, off-again offerings at Arby’s over the years, but maybe it’s time for the flip-flopping to stop. In a Business Insider taste test of fish sandwiches from seven chains, Arby’s came in dead last. Hollis Johnson said the sandwich “lacks any taste or joy.”
McDonald’s Fish McBites (2013)
Fast-food fish items are relevant for only two kinds of people: pescatarians, and Catholics during Lent. Neither represents a majority of fast-food fans. McDonald’s quickly learned that the way to a customer’s heart is not through the flakes of fried frozen cod, and these were pulled from the menu.
Burger King’s Satisfries (2013)
Satisfries were supposed to be a healthier version of Burger King’s french fries. But no one eats fries for their nutritional value. It’s no surprise that customers found these to be rather sad-isfries.
McDonald’s McWraps (2013)
The McWrap was another child of the attempted healthifying of fast food in the early 2010s. It was actually pretty well-loved by customers, yours truly included. However, the wraps required a lot of time and effort to prepare, which slowed down service in the chain’s drive-thru and hurt business.
McDonald’s Mighty Wings (2013)
There is at least one thing that customers don’t come to McDonald’s for: food that is too expensive. At a dollar each, the Mighty Wings were way pricier than what customers were willing to pay. As a result, the chain had to deal with 10 million pounds of unsold inventory. Whoops.
Taco Bell’s waffle taco (2014)
Taco Bell dove headfirst into its reputation as a college stoner paradise with the waffle taco in 2014. Sure, breakfast can be a hard sector to break into. But syrupy eggs didn’t quite do the trick for Taco Bell, which stopped serving the waffle taco a year after it was rolled out nationwide.
Taco Bell’s biscuit taco (2015)
But the breakfast chaos didn’t stop there. When the waffle taco didn’t quite resonate with fans, Taco Bell tried again with a breadier sibling: the biscuit taco. Business Insider tried it, and the reaction was love-hate. One taste tester described it as “something a college student would make on the way to class.”
Burger King’s Halloween Whopper (2015)
Apparently, this limited-edition item actually tasted pretty good. It had A1 sauce baked into the bun and slathered on the burger. But the wild amounts of green food dye used to turn the bun black apparently haunted customers to the toilet.
McDonald’s sirloin third-pound burger (2015)
Remember how McDonald’s customersdon’tlike expensive things? In 2015, McDonald’s tried to go gourmet with a third-pound burger made with premium ingredients. But rather than improve customers’ perception of the chain’s quality, the too-fancy burger didn’t quite catch their fancy.
Pizza Hut’s Hot Dog Bites pizza (2015)
Pizza places have been looking for ways to make crust more interesting since time immemorial. However, putting hot dogs in pizza crust was widely acknowledged as a misstep. Heavy, salty, and meaty, this pizza was a definite lowlight of the decade’s fast food.
McDonald’s mozzarella sticks (2016)
It’s pretty hard to mess up a mozzarella stick — you bread a stick of mozzarella, fry it, and voilà. However, when McDonald’s mozzarella sticks came out, fans were disappointed. Why? The sticks were inconsistent, and some people found that they lacked the most important ingredient: the mozzarella. One was so enraged that he sued the chain. McDonald’s has disputed the claims about the missing mozzarella.
Burger King’s Mac ‘n’ Cheetos (2016)
If there’s one thing most people can agree on, it’s that cheese usually makes things better. But putting Cheetos on mac and cheese is a risky move. Business Insider tried the item when it came out in 2016, and reactions were mixed, with most taste-testers saying it didn’t taste like Cheetos at all.
Chipotle’s queso (2017)
Oh, Chipotle’s infamous queso. Described as “dumpster juice” by one disgusted Twitter user, the dipping sauce was criticized for its texture and taste. But worry not, queso fans, the chain is testing a new queso recipe that’s much, much better.