10 fast foods that have disappeared

Fast-food restaurant chains are constantly rejiggering their menus in the hopes of luring new customers and coming up with the next buzzworthy food item. Sometimes it works: Taco Bell has sold over 500 million of its Doritos Locos tacos since launching the product last year. But often, when restaurant chains swing for the fences, they miss. Here are some of the most memorable fast-food failures of the past few decades, from a pineapple sandwich to a funny-tasting burger that hundreds of millions in advertising dollars couldn't save.

1. McLobster

Chain: McDonald's

Launched: 1993, still available seasonally in the northeastern United States and Canada.

Seafood offerings have been a mixed bag for McDonald’s over the years. On the positive end, there’s the Filet-O-Fish, a menu staple since the 1960s and a go-to for customers with a wide range of dietary restrictions. On the other end, there’s the McLobster.

The McLobster is basically a low-rent lobster roll – a hot dog bun filled with shredded lobster meat, shredded lettuce, and something called “lobster sauce.” It was a commercial disappointment for McDonald’s nationally (and we’d be willing to guess that there were supply problems in certain regions), but it still makes occasional appearances in locations in the Northeast and Canada, where lobster is abundant in the warmer months. In 2011, rumors swirled that the McLobster would re-emerge on the national stage for a limited run, but nothing came of them.

Most of the entries on this list seem hilariously wrongheaded in hindsight. But massive product misses like the McLobster are par for the course in an industry predicated on variety and the ability to constantly turn heads, argues Andrew Smith, a food historian and author of “Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food.”

“Even these failures are tremendous successes,” he says. “Something like the McLobster gets huge news, and social media goes crazy, and when they take it off the menu they get even more publicity.  It’s huge in terms of the amount of visibility they get, just doing something surprising.”

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