Steve Eighinger

Some of those ideas were not McGood

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 16, 2019 12:01 am

When it comes to business, one of the nation's greatest success stories involves McDonald's.

Those familiar golden arches are known from coast to coast and around the world. Big Macs and Shamrock Shakes are part of our culture.

But not even McDonald's is perfect, at least in terms of menu items. Ronald McDonald has seen more than a few colossal failures over the years.

Some of the following you might remember, some of them may never have reached West-Central Illinois or Northeast Missouri, but they were all actual McDonald's offerings at one time or another:

McSpaghetti: This concept appeared in the 80s, when McDonald's began to branch out from its customary burgers and fries. Most customers took one look at the fast-food pasta and sauce and opted for the more familiar ground beef selections. Surprisingly, the McSpaghetti has never gone away completely. It is still on the menu in the Philippines, and the world's largest McDonald's -- in Orlando, Fla. -- frequently offers customizable pasta dishes.

McPizza: McDonald's tried to make a dent in the success of such pizza giants as Domino's and Pizza Hut in the late 80s and early 90s, but this, too, proved a giant failure. One of the principal causes for the downfall of McPizza was the time needed to generate the pizzas. Customers did not want to wait. I had McPizza on numerous occasions when I lived in Ohio, and they were actually quite good, but the wait was often way too long to be considered "fast food."

McAfrika: This account pretty much sums up this idea: "The McAfrika was one of the biggest marketing catastrophes McDonald's ever caused for itself. It contained beef, cheese, tomatoes and salad in a pita-like sandwich. It was released in 2002 during a slew of famines in southern Africa. McDonald's apologized and pulled the item, once the PR crisis heated up." McDonald's tried again with the McAfrica in a 2008 promotion for the Olympics. Not surprisingly, it received a similar negative reaction.

McSalad Shakers: Much like McDonald's other attempts to make healthier food a popular menu item, this idea flopped in the early 2000s. In principal, it sounded like a great idea: A salad served in a plastic cup with a lid, so you could shake to evenly coat your lettuce with Italian vinaigrette or ranch. Plus, the cup shape made the salads easier to eat in your car. But the bottom line proved -- again -- most of those who frequent McDonald's are not going there for health items.

We may have to have a part two of this discussion down the road because there is not room today for a discussion about McLobster, McCrab, McHotDog, Mighty Wings and other not-so-good ideas gone bad.

The original menu

For those who might be curious, here is McDonald's original menu when it opened back in the late 50s:

Hamburger: 15 cents.

Cheeseburger: 19 cents.

Milk shake: 20 cents.

French fries: 10 cents.

Coca-Cola: 10 cents.

Root beer: 10 cents.

Coffee: 10 cents.

Orange drink: 10 cents.

Milk: 12 cents.