They are practically icons of Americana: a fast food restaurant is supposed to be on every main street, in every mall, and sometimes near every school. They constitute one of America’s finest exports. All over the country, you see it entertaining every kind of people – rich or poor, young or old. If there is one thing that everyone in America votes on together, it’s how they love their burgers and fries and pizzas. You would think that fast food giants like Pizza Hut, McDonald’s or Burger King don’t really need to do anything anymore to attract or retain their customers. They own names that are synonymous with fast food. They would only need, you imagine, to maintain quality. It really wouldn’t be true. They still need to try to keep customers from defecting to other fast food chains. McDonald’s does always wonder if its customers aren’t seeing Burger King on the side; and Pizza Hut has Domino’s on the brain. Marketing is an important part of the whole push to retain customers of course; so is the fast food menu each chain offers. They employ highly paid chefs to try to dream up something new that can help settle into the American psyche as well as the standard fare has. It is their growth model for the future. But still, as hard as they try, they still seem to get some recipes wrong from time to time. These concoctions are the stuff of horror stories – for the customers to try and for the at200deg.com chains promote them. Here are a few of the more entertaining mistakes that made in the realm of the fast food menu.
What makes a really bad choice for innovation in a fast food menu? When people react to your hope of a great success by actually suing you for millions of dollars. That’s what happened after McDonald’s introduced the whole Super Sizing concept back in 1993. You got a big Mac, 40-plus ounces of soda and an extra large 7 ounce holder with french fries. While it was phenomenally popular, it was taken off the menu in 2004. The company tried to put a spin on it that they just wanted to help their customers eat healthier; but industry experts believe that McDonald’s did it because they didn’t like the negative publicity they were getting being sued by teenage girls for making them fat. The documentary Supersize Me that tried to prove that people who ate out of the McDonald’s fast food menu every single day for a month ended up very, very sick may have been an influence to.
Sometimes, these fast food brands go and pull some perfectly boneheaded moves. When Dairy Queen looked enviously at the success Starbucks was having with its coffee, they decided they could do the same. So in the year 2004 (is that an unlucky year for fast food chains, or what) they introduced MooLatte, a frozen blended coffee that put ice cream and coffee together. It compared very favorably to anything on the Starbucks menu. There was just a little problem: the politically correct began to notice that MooLatte appeared to sound a whole lot similar to the racist term for a person of mixed race – mulatto. There was quite an uproar over what on earth they were thinking to name it that. Didn’t any of their endless focus groups tell them that there was something dubious about a name like that? Dairy Queen dug in their heels, and the product is still on their menu. But it’s one of the more memorable fast food menu-related failures in memory.