Biggest Fast Food Failures Of All-Time

By Doug Norrie | Updated

fast food fail

When it comes to fast food restaurants, there are a bunch out there doing it right these days. Some are massive chains with iconic offerings. Some are regional favorites that have built up a lot of brand loyalty.

Most times, these places know their wheelhouse and deliver the goods. But not always. And along the way there have been plenty of fast food fails across the industry. Things that simply didn’t work out.

Let’s look at some of the bigger missteps in the fast food industry over the years.

McDonald’s – The Arch Deluxe

The Arch Deluxe was an effort by McDonald’s in the 1990s to appeal to a more sophisticated group. And maybe (weirdly) class up the joint a bit in terms of offerings.

From a burger perspective, it wasn’t all that different from other things they had and have done. Beef patty, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, and a secret sauce. Pretty standard.

The problem was they sunk tons (and tons) of marketing dollars into it for very little return. It was eventually discontinued.

This fast food fail is among the most popular examples of a decent idea gone wrong. 

Burger King – SatisFries

In 2013, Burger King thought it could get on the health kick. Why not offer a version of its fries that would appeal to those who were a bit more conscious with menu choices?

In came the Satisfries which were branded as being lower in fat and calories than the regular BK fries.

Customers hated the taste and texture but at least the price was higher. This was a fast food fail and the Satisfries lasted only about a year on the menu.

Wendy’s – Frescata Sandwich

Sometimes fast food burger chains want to make a pivot into a different market segment. They’re hoping to capitalize on emerging trends.

Sometimes it works. And then other times you get the Frescata from Wendy’s, a fast food fail, through and through.

This sandwich was going after the deli crowd with a slightly healthier option than the normal Wendy’s fare. It was a deli-style sandwich on artisan bread.

But it was the worst of all worlds for Wendy’s with customers not jiving with the taste and the sandwiches being harder to assemble because they were so dissimilar to the chain’s other options.

Taco Bell – Bell Beefer

Ok, in terms of fast food fails, this one is a bit different. The Taco Bell Bell Beefer definitely had a niche crowd who enjoyed the menu option.

It came along in the 1970s and was essentially a burger with taco ingredients. Think something like a Sloppy Joe sandwich.

It came out of San Francisco locations but failed to find a wider audience. It did last a couple of decades on the Taco Bell menu but was discontinued in the 1990s.

McDonald’s – Hula Burger

McDonald’s has a couple of fast food fails on this list. It’s understandable considering just how long this place been in business. And they’ve taken a ton of swings over the years.

One of them was the Hula burger which was introduced as a meatless burger back in the 1960s before the industry had really “perfected” this type of thing.

It was a pineapple, slice of cheese, and ketchup on a bun. You read that right. Unsurprisingly, customers hated it. 

KFC – Double Down Dog

KFC really went for it here with the menu option combination bingo strategy here. The Double Down Dog was a hot dog wrapped in a fried chicken patty.

This writer is confused about how such a thing could even be handled or consumed. And maybe that was part of the underlying (and overlying) problem. The Double Down Dog failed to find an audience and was a fast food fail.