“Ba-da-ba-ba-daaa, I’m missing it”
Back in August, we wrote about how while McDonald’s is a great American establishment, they’ve managed to commit some real crimes against food. We even promised in that article that we would not write any articles about the best food items you can get at McDonald’s, partly because it’s less interesting than “discontinued awfulness” and also partly because our Editor-in-Chief’s favorite sandwich there is the Filet-o-Fish which automatically discredits any opinions he might have about the McDonald’s menu as it stands in 2017.
But while we were digging through the disgusting, horrible ideas of McDonald’s past (ugh, that pineapple hamburger haunts us) we also noticed that a lot of items that were briefly on the McDonald’s menu seemed actually pretty good. Really good, even. Like, “man, we wish that was still on the menu” good. So we’re going to talk about those items, wistfully, and mourn their passing. Because some of this stuff, man…
Discontinued McDonald’s Items We Desperately Want Back
The current McDonald’s menu always has at least a few seasonal or limited-time offerings, and normally they are handled in a very savvy manner by their marketing department. No one would give a shit about the McRib if it wasn’t an event every time they decided to put it on the menu. (Also, they only put the McRibs on the menu when pork prices are super cheap, because McDonald’s is nothing if not shrewd.) Currently, McDonald’s offers a Sriracha burger, a Pico Guacamole burger, and a BBQ bacon burger, all of which taste pretty good, but are definitely the kind of item you order once or twice for the novelty before going back to your standard order [Editor’s note: STANDARD ORDER BEING A FILET-O-FISH STOP IT LET GO OF ME I WILL SAY MY PEACE AEGIHIAEGHIAG], and in a year or so it’ll drift off the menu and be forgotten by most.
Some of the following menu items fall in that last category, gimmick menu items that no one intended to keep around, but happened to have been spectacular. Others failed due to logistical concerns. All of them, however, are items we wish we could order today.
In 1988, McDonald’s decided to mix up their burger offerings by offering the Cheddar Melt, a Quarter Pounder topped with a cheddar cheese sauce and butter-and-teriyaki-sautéed onions placed on a light rye bun. While the teriyaki aspect of the onions might seem a bit odd, it’s essentially a burger on a better, more flavorful bun, topped with cooked onions and a creamy cheddar sauce, which are all things that are delicious and what we want right now. We’re not the only ones who feel that way, if this Facebook group is any indication. It was served sporadically during the 1990s, but ultimately the Cheddar Melt fell prey to margins. Having two different kinds of cheese, two different kinds of onions, and two different kinds of buns on hand at all times was enough of a hassle for franchise owners that the sandwich had to fall by the wayside, which is unfortunate because, again, cheddar sauce.
Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry
Here we have an item that was only meant to be on the menu for a limited time, and while McDonald’s website still lists it, you’re pretty much not going to find a location that still serves this. Which is a shame, because this was delicious. Granted, it’s a simple concept that’s hard to screw up—you take some soft serve vanilla ice cream, swirl it with chunks of white chocolate cheesecake and some strawberry sauce, and top the whole sucker with biscuit crumbles, and you’ve got a McFlurry version of a strawberry shortcake, or well, you had it, you had it very briefly, and then you ate it, violently. Just, making animal noises as you wolf it down. People are staring but you don’t care. That’s how good this was. And they took it away. Nothing gold can stay.
Big N’ Tasty
The Big N’ Tasty, or Big Tasty if you’re nasty (and getting the 1/3 pound variation) , first appeared on menus in 1997 with a wide rollout in 2001, as an attempt to compete with Burger King’s Whopper. It was a seasoned quarter-pounder beef patty with ketchup, mayo, onions, pickle, lettuce, and tomato on a sesame seed bun. It was a simple, but tasty, sandwich for when you kind of feel like a Whopper instead of a Big Mac, but you’re at a McDonald’s, so what the hell. But by 2010, McDonald’s decided it wasn’t worth maintaining, and they switched their focus to the McDonald’s Angus Burgers that you barely remember being a thing in the late 00’s and early 10’s. But either way, this was a good burger, they just didn’t market it very well (oh God, they sure did not), and Ranker.com lists it as the #2 best discontinued McDonald’s item. So yeah, it was pretty solid, and we miss it.
On one hand, getting wings at a McDonald’s seems dumb and pointless. And most people responded that way. They originally were sold only sporadically by only a handful of franchises from 1990 to 2003, but when they relaunched the wings in 2013, people determined A—not gonna get wings from McDonald’s, and B—not gonna spend the “premium for McDonald’s” price on them. So McDonald’s basically had to slash the price just to sell whatever wings they had initially purchased, and after that everyone still said, “Um, no, I’m not getting wings from you guys.” But they were good! No, seriously, they were really good, and we’re not the only ones to think so! The skin was incredibly flavorful and crispy and it somehow had a little bit of spice baked right in, while the meat inside stayed tender. These were wings you didn’t even need to use a sauce for, that is how good they were. But we as a nation just weren’t ready for it. And now these beautiful wings are gone, forever.
Listen, was the McDLT, launched in 1984 as a competitor to the Whopper (they seem to always be in competition with the Whopper, we don’t get it guys, people like the Big Mac too, just be yourselves) obviously a marketing ploy? Sure. Was it a bit of an overkill to use an environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam container that uses twice the material of a normal burger holder to separate the hot and cold halves of your burger? Yeah, probably. Can we imagine people getting mad that McDonald’s was basically having you buy a burger so you could assemble it your damn self? Sure, the, “Well what are we paying these people for!” hot takes practically write themselves. But, still, there’s something to be said about the approach here—taking a good Quarter Pounder and making sure the vegetables stay fresh (well, fresh for McDonald’s) and don’t wilt by the time you go at your burger? It might be a bit pointless in the restaurant, but if you’re ordering from the drive-thru and taking it home after? This is not the worst idea.
Of course, all those issues we pointed out earlier were the exact reason it got discontinued in 1991.
Southern Style Chicken Sandwich
This sandwich was a knock-off of the Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. Just, a pure rip-off. But, when you rip-off a sandwich that is very delicious, you end up with a pretty delicious sandwich even if it doesn’t taste quite as good as the original. But, McDonald’s is open on Sundays, so it wasn’t a bad placeholder option to have at your fingertips. But the sandwich never did catch on, and was eventually discontinued in 2015, to be replaced by a gaping hole of yearning in our souls.
Hear us out. We know that we just said the McSpaghetti was the most disgusting and horrifying food idea ever. We said that! And we stand by it. But, the difference between spaghetti and pizza is that one is just a noodle and sauce, while the other is pizza. So long as you’re not in St. Louis, pizza is always good. McDonald’s has tried on numerous occasions to make pizza work from the 1970’s until they finally gave up on the effort in the year 2000. But, McPizza was apparently pretty good, and well received. Like we said, it’s pizza, you’re going to have a good time with pizza. The only reason this never happened was the cook time. It took 11 minutes to make a McPizza, which, well, makes sense when you’re cooking a whole pizza, but is a bit too much of a time commitment to ask from someone going to a restaurant that actively refers to itself as fast food.
And so ended the legacy of the McPizza, before it could even begin. We hardly knew ye, McPizza, but we knew you were delicious.