The first McDonald’s was opened on May 15, 1940, by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald. When it first opened, McDonald’s was a barbecue restaurant and in the early days, they had 25 items on their menu. However, at the end of World War II, the brothers realized that 80 percent of their sales were hamburgers. So they shut down the restaurant for a few weeks, and reopened with a smaller menu that had just nine items: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, three soft drink flavors available in 12-ounce cups, milk, coffee, potato chips, and pie. The idea behind the new store was to focus on speed and lower prices.
When they added milkshakes to the menu and replaced the chips with fries, the restaurant really took off. Then, in 1954, milkshake mixer salesman Ray Kroc got involved with the restaurant and started to franchise it. Six years later, Kroc bought out the brothers for $2.7 million. If you’ve seen previews for the Michael Keaton movie The Founder, that’s the story of Kroc and the McDonald brothers.
Since then, the staples of McDonald’s have stayed the same and other items have been added and found a permanent home. However, others have come and gone, much to the dismay of the customers. Here are the 10 items that we want to see back in the restaurants.
10. Chopped Steak Sandwich with Onion Nuggets
The original version of McDonald’s Chopped Steak Sandwich only made it into test markets in 1979. It was a long burger on a six inch bun, topped with onions. Barbecue sauce was served on the side that the diner could poor onto the sandwich. Fancy, right? It was also served with a box of Onion Nuggets, which were battered chunks of onion that were deep fried.
One reason the Chopped Steak Sandwich probably never took off is because it used ground beef instead of chopped steak. So if they brought the sandwich back, one of two things needs to happen. The first is that it would need to have a more honest name, or it needs to have actual chopped steak. Either way, we’d give them a go with a side of Onion Nuggets!
Granted, you must really like onions to want this combo. Or this would be an excellent menu option if you’re brought to McDonald’s on a bad date. And seriously, what date at McDonald’s isn’t bad?
9. Fries in Beef Tallow
For decades, McDonald’s cooked their fries in a mixture of seven percent cottonseed oil and 93 percent beef tallow. This gave the fries a unique and utterly delicious taste.
Were they healthier? Of course not. In fact, there was more saturated fat in the fries per ounce than the burgers. But this list isn’t about healthier, or you’d find the McLean, which was a burger that was sold in the 1990s. It was 91 percent fat free and only had 10 grams of fat (compared to a Big Mac, which has 26 grams of fat). The secret was that it used seaweed as a binder. Gee, can’t fathom why that never caught on.
McDonald’s changed to vegetable oil in the early 1990s, because customers wanted healthier food. Also, since they were cooked in tallow, vegans and vegetarians couldn’t eat the fries. But it turned out that they didn’t completely remove animal byproducts in the oil. This led to a lawsuit in 2001, filed by three vegans, two of which were Hindu, because they found traces of beef in the fries. McDonald’s response was that they never said that their fries were vegetarian, and they revealed that they used beef flavoring. When they made the announcement, McDonald’s restaurants in India were attacked by protesters. However, McDonald’s said beef product was never used in the cooking of fries in India.
McDonalds ended up paying out $10 million and apologized for not being more open about their products.
8. Fried Pies
McDonald’s Pies, which are technically turnovers, were first introduced in 1968, the same year that the Big Mac debuted. The first flavor was apple, and cherry was added later. Apple pies are still on the menu today, but they are baked.
However, when they first came out they were deep fried. This made the outside crust crispy and the inside gooey. To summarize it all in one word, they were magical. However, they were discontinued in 1992 and you can probably guess why, and it wasn’t because they were too awesome or didn’t sell well.
McDonald’s locations throughout the world have specialized menu options that are only available in certain countries. One sandwich in Canada, which has been an on-again, off-again menu option on the east coast, and appears for a short time every year in Ontario, is the McLobster. It also pops up now and then in New England, where most folks consider it a slap in the face considering, ya know… Maine. Anyway, it’s a lobster roll, which contains chunks of lobster mixed with mayonnaise, lime juice, celery, onion, and is served on a six inch bun with lettuce.
Of course, the idea of McDonald’s, which sells double-cheeseburgers for a dollar, selling a sandwich with a high end product like lobster can make anyone nervous. But it’s actually pretty good. Well, when we say good, that is quite relative. A reviewer with The National Post in Canada said that the McLobster is to a lobster roll as a McDonald’s cheeseburger is to a real cheeseburger. But if you’re a fan of lobster rolls and McDonald’s, that’s actually a compliment.
6. Super Hero Burger
This burger has had a few different iterations and appeared several times over the past two decades under different names, like the Triple Double Burger. In Canada, it was called the Hockey Hero Burger, because of course it was. But it was first introduced in 1995 as a tie-in to the movie Batman Forever and it was called the Super Hero Burger.
The sandwich is three beef patties with 2 slices of cheese, and was served on a six inch bun. Then the burger was topped with lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayonnaise. It was a bit like a Whopper sub, but made with McDonald’s ingredients. We’re curling up into a food coma just thinking about it.
5. The Arch Deluxe
Throughout the history of McDonald’s, they’ve tried to expand their customer base, and it doesn’t always go as well as planned. One of their biggest failures was in 1996.
With their low quality food, Happy Meals, a clown as a mascot, and PlayPlaces, McDonald’s is a magnet for children, but not enough adults were eating there. McDonald’s wanted to go after those adults… er, in a consumer-based way, not in a threatening sort of way. A good way to attract adults may have just been to add alcohol to the menu, or to remove all the kid stuff in the restaurants. Instead, they just thought that adults would like a series of sandwiches directed at them and made no other changes to the atmosphere of the restaurants.
New menu items included the Fish Filet Deluxe, the Grilled Chicken Deluxe, and the Crispy Chicken Deluxe. But the main burger, which was symbolic of their new menu direction, was the Arch Deluxe. It was a quarter pound patty topped with bacon, leaf-lettuce, tomato, American cheese, onions, ketchup, and a secret sauce that was made from mustard and mayonnaise. In total, McDonald’s spent over $150 million on an ad campaign for the line of burgers… and it was a disaster.
The problem with the Deluxe sandwiches was that McDonald’s had such lofty goals. While the Arch Deluxe tasted pretty good, it didn’t bring in the customers they wanted. However, perhaps if it was brought back with much lower expectations, the Arch Deluxe could find a home on the menu.
4. Chicken Selects
Chicken nuggets, which were originally called Chicken Crispies, were developed in 1963 by a food scientist who had a lab in Cornell’s basement. In 1977, the United States government announced dietary goals for Americans that included instructions to eat less beef, but more chicken and fish. McDonald’s, who experimented with onion nuggets but found they didn’t sell well, decided to try chicken nuggets to attract people who wanted to eat chicken. They debuted in 1983 and have been on the menu ever since.
Obviously, they are popular, but for some people who love chicken, McNuggets taste like battered and deep fried newspaper. For those people, there were Chicken Selects, introduced in 2002. Instead of being ground up chicken (or whatever weird pink paste is used to create the McNuggets), they were pieces of premium white chicken that were battered and deep fried. The Chicken Select survived for more than a decade before it was phased out in 2013.
McDonald’s didn’t give a reason for discontinuing the product, citing that they didn’t share sales figures of specific items, so that probably means that they weren’t generating enough money.
3. Mega Tamago
We are unsure if this burger is still available in Japan (it is no longer listed on their website), but if it isn’t, it needs to come back and go worldwide. We want it. We need it. We must have it. It is like a Mega Big Mac, but instead of a fourth patty, it has a fried egg. A fried egg! What sorcery will they think of next? In addition to that, there is bacon! And what doesn’t get better with bacon?
Also, this wouldn’t be hard to make, since all-day breakfast is a reality (and oh, what delicious, savory reality it is). Now they have eggs available all day. So bring it on McDonald’s, we’re waiting!
2. Eggs Benedict McMuffin
McDonald’s breakfast is some of the most beloved of all their food. When McDonald’s made breakfast available all day, their stock went up 3 percent.
Their first breakfast item was their most famous: the Egg McMuffin, which was invented by Herb Peterson, who owned a McDonald’s in Santa Barbara, California. He thought that Ray Kroc would dismiss the idea right away, so Peterson told Kroc to come to his store, but refused to explain why he wanted to see Kroc. After trying the sandwich, Kroc loved it and agreed to put it on the menu. It took three years to get them in all the stores nationwide, but it’s been a staple ever since.
In 2001, as a marketing crossover with the movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire (for… reasons? Let’s not dwell on it, OK?), McDonald’s introduced the Eggs Benedict McMuffin. While the promotion may not have made sense, the breakfast sandwich sounds delicious. In fact, an Egg McMuffin is quite similar to Eggs Benedict, because the Egg McMuffin was a rip off of an Eggs Benedict sandwich that was made by Jack-in-the-Box. But Peterson didn’t like how runny the prepackaged hollandaise sauce was, so he dropped it.
However, if the hollandaise was done correctly, breakfast may get more popular than it already is.
While there’s a franchise called Burger King, the real, undisputed king of burger restaurants is McDonald’s. In the 1980s, they owned 40% of the burger market. However, McDonald’s was mostly considered a breakfast and lunch place. During dinners, families like to take a bit more time and relax. One style of restaurant that was popular for dinner was pizza parlors, like Pizza Hut.
The solution to this problems was obvious: McDonald’s would sell pizza. The problem was that pizza didn’t really work in a McDonald’s kitchen. Also, the pizzas needed to be made quickly. No one was going to come to McDonald’s and order burgers that were served in minutes, but wait 20 minutes for pizza. So they had to design their own ovens, which used super-heated air, and it cooked frozen dough in six minutes.
However, the pizzas came with other problems. Like, for example, the boxes didn’t fit through the drive-thru windows. Also, renovations had to be done in the kitchens to not only add the oven, but also a warmer box. If you’ve ever been to McDonald’s and have seen their kitchens, you know that real estate is at a premium.
Finally, while they cooked pizza quickly, it still wasn’t fast enough, which hurt McDonald’s main competitive advantage: speed.
Shortly after the pizzas went into expanded testing in 1989, they were discontinued. Well, with a couple peculiar exceptions: two McDonald’s locations, one in Ohio and one in West Virginia, still sell pizzas. We think that other McDonald’s sites should learn from those two restaurants and start to sell them again. Perhaps this time, they may want to think about selling it by the slice.