McDonald’s is known for its Big Mac, McChicken, and Quarter Pounder, but did you know that there was a time the chain sold things other than burgers?
Over the years, the fast food giant has unveiled some temporary new creations like pizza and hot dogs, but customers weren't "lovin' it."
We’ve compiled a list of some nostalgic and odd McDonald’s items you might not believe were ever on the menu!
Some of these items might bring back fond memories, while others simply didn't catch on with the public or pass the taste test.
McDonald’s began testing a dinner menu in 1989, which included pasta. The menu included a variety of pastas including lasagna, spaghetti, fettuccine alfredo, and even some roasted chicken entrees along with dishes that included mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables.
Despite the chain’s best efforts, the public simply didn’t want to eat pasta at a restaurant known for its burgers.
Another part of the dinner menu (served only after 4 pm) was everyone’s favorite dish: pizza! However, with the market so deeply saturated with pizza joints, the cheesy item wasn’t exactly a successful selling point for McD’s. One of the biggest issues was that the fast food item wasn’t fast at all and it took too long to cook.
It also wasn’t a quality pizza and resembled frozen Hot Pockets. Plus, it wasn’t entirely on brand, as customers who actually wanted pizza often opted for their regular pizza place or a big chain like Dominos or Pizza Hut instead of a burger place, which resulted in low sales and the removal of the item.
The McHotDog was introduced in the late 1990s at select midwestern stores as a limited-time summer item, but it wasn’t what people associated with McDonald’s. It gained some success in the UK during the late nineties, while a few Toronto stores sold them until 1999. Tokyo even had the hot dogs in 2001 and re-introduced it in 2009. Poland also had a local version with its national sausage called the “McKielbasa.”
While the hot dogs failed to find commercial success, it’s important to note that before there were burgers, McDonald’s original founders, Richard and Maurice McDonald, started with a hot dog stand in the late 1930s, per the New York Times.
Fish items are popular at McDonald’s -- just look at the staple menu item, the Filet-O-Fish. But fish lovers couldn’t get on board with the “Fish McBites,” a poppable small piece of flaky Alaska Pollock that was dipped in batter and fried. It was served with a tangy tartar sauce.
Convenience didn’t win in this case and the item was discontinued in February 2013.
McDonald’s Arch Deluxe was marketed as a gourmet burger “for adults.” The extensive marketing, which cost the chain nearly $100 million, showed kids disgusted by the adult-only item and Ronald McDonald playing adult sports like golf. It was also dubbed “the burger with the grown-up taste.”
And while the item seemed rather traditional with its quarter pound of beef on a potato flour bun topped with bacon, leaf lettuce, tomato, American cheese, onions, ketchup and secret sauce, it never caught on with adults.
Lobster is fancy and pricey, which means two things: you don’t go to McDonald’s for it, but if you do find yourself craving a lobster roll at the chain, you’re not really digging the upwards of $5.99 pricepoint for a fast food item.
The item includes lobster meat in a hot dog bun topped with McLobster sauce and shredded lettuce. It's not a complete flop as you can still oftentimes find it in some Canadian locations and parts of New England.
Grilled Chicken Flatbread
The flatbread was an alternative to hamburgers that people loved. It consisted of grilled chicken strips, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pepper jack cheese, and a creamy herb sauce atop a heated flatbread. It’s a mystery why these were discontinued, but since the chain doesn’t have wraps anymore, it was likely stripped due to the chain simplifying its menu.
McDonald’s wanted to revolutionize eating salad with the McSalad Shaker, a salad in a cup that allows you to shake and douse your salad evenly with the dressing of your choice. It made sense in theory, but seeing the salad in a cup meant for a frappuccino was less-than appetizing. The Shaker came in three choices: Chef Salad, Grilled Chicken Caesar and Garden Salad. They weren’t around for long before getting replaced by premium salads in 2003.
The meatless Hula burger was introduced as an alternative for the Catholic and Christian customers who were abstaining from meat every Friday due to Lent.
While the Filet-O-Fish has found success with this exact group of customers, the Hula burger couldn’t shimmy its way into people’s hearts as it only contained a grilled pineapple topped with cheese on a bun. It’s not surprising why this item was never mentioned again.
The McAfrika was a PR nightmare for McDonald's. The sandwich itself was fine -- the beef, cheese, tomatoes and salad was wrapped up in a pita -- but it was the marketing that stirred up controversy. The sandwich was marketed in 2002 during the famines in southern Africa, which customers called tasteless.
You’d think McDonald’s would have learned from the mistake, but they repeated it again in 2008 with the McAfrica burger as part of the “Flavors of the World” Olympics promotion.
The McDLT was introduced in the mid-1980s as just a burger with lettuce and tomato. The catch was that it came in a styrofoam package that separated the lettuce and tomato from the patty. The whole idea was to keep the veggies from getting warm and soggy and the meat from cooling down before the customer was ready to eat. After 6-years, it was removed from the menu because of the packaging’s negative effects on the environment.