5 Times McDonald’s Had Huge Fast Food Fails

By Doug Norrie | Published

mcdonalds fails menu

When it comes to the Golden Arches, there are a number of iconic menu wins where McDonald’s is concerned. The Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets, Happy Meals, and more all come to mind. But they haven’t all been hits. There have been plenty of McDonald’s menu fails along the way.

Let’s take a look at the biggest fast food mistakes in McDonald’s menu history.

The Arch Deluxe

In the 1990s, McDonald’s wanted to make a play for a more adult crowd. So in 1996, the Arch Deluxe was introduced and aimed to appeal to adult tastes with a more sophisticated burger. But its high price (older people have more money, right?) and marketing failed to land with customers, leading to disappointing sales and eventual discontinuation.

Frankly, people were just confused. It was a standard McDonald’s burger with beef patty, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, onions, ketchup, and a “secret” mustard-mayo sauce, all served on a bakery-style roll. The latter was them classing it up a bit. It didn’t work at all and after $300 million in research and development (yikes), it was canned in 2000. 


Just because you can throw “Mc” in front of any kind of food and put it on the menu, doesn’t mean you should. Such was the case with the McPizza which was introduced in the late 1980s. What seemed like a solid addition for the McDonald’s chain only proved a massive headache.

The wait times for the McPizza drove customers nuts and were well outside the timing for the standard Golden Arches fare. These problems plus the fact that regular pizza chains just did standard pies way better meant the McPizza wasn’t a winner on the menu. They stopped making them just a few years later and took the “L”.

Mighty Wings

The good news first: They didn’t call them the McWings. The bad news? Kind of everything else. The Mighty Wings came about in 2013 and were a pretty standard attempt at the traditional bone-in hot wings from other outlets. At first, these were met with a decent reception with customers coming to try them out.

It didn’t last. McDonald’s couldn’t compete with the price point for other, more established, wings chains and the taste couldn’t really match either. Plus, customers were just more used to the sandwiches and McNuggets and these stood out in all the wrong ways on the menu.

Salad Shakers

The early 2000s saw McDonald’s wanting to get on a little bit of a health kick so they went with the Salad Shakers on the menu. It was meant to get customers a salad on the go, throwing ingredients into a plastic, see-through cup that could be shaken into a meal. Just add the dressing, cover it up, and get to work on the up-and-down arm motion.

Problem was many people didn’t want to do this and the packaging wasn’t exactly appealing when it came to getting a salad. This didn’t last long on the menu.


Whoops. In the 1990s, McDonald’s wanted to appeal to customers with more options that would seem to line up with their core offerings. In this way, the hot dog did kind of feel like a logical choice. Playing on the street food, or backyard grilling experience, why not throw a dog into the mix with the burgers and fries? 

So we got the McHotDog, a poorly named and poorly received menu option that didn’t last all that long. Turns out that making hot dogs fast, easy, and cheap didn’t line up 1:1 with what they were doing on the burger side. And this menu option was short-lived.