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.”

1 of 10

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.