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Top 5: Fast food fails

My fellow fast food aficionados know that for every McRib and every Pumpkin Spice Latte, every delectable and delicious “limited-time-only” menu item, fast food chains have an untold number of culinary calamities.  

In a world where innovation meets indulgence, there’s bound to be a few slip-ups along the greasy path to gastronomic genius. 

McDonald’s announced they would release the Shamrock Shake almost a month early, on Feb. 5 instead of the annual March 1 date? Genius.

In a landscape littered with competition–McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Sonic Drive-in, Arby’s, Hardy’s…–to stand out, you have to swing for the fences.

And sometimes you miss.

This month alone, Wendy’s CEO announced to investors plans to roll out “dynamic pricing,” a term often used interchangeably with “surge pricing”– raising prices when consumer demand is highest.  

Really, raise prices at lunch and dinner time? That’s not a great recipe to keep your customers.

And while a Feb. 27 press release clarified that news reports had misinterpreted the CEO’s statement that the intent was to lower prices at non-peak times, the damage might have already been done. Who reads press releases anyway? 

From the mind-boggling to the downright bizarre, fast food chains have served up some legendary misfires that leave us simultaneously scratching our heads and licking our lips (albeit nervously). 

So buckle up, hold onto your condiment packets, and prepare to feast your eyes on the most glorious flops and fiascos in fast food history: the vile, the unimaginable, the undefendable… 

Let’s take a bite out of some of the biggest fast food foibles and failures over the year.

5. Buffalo Wild Wings Mountain Dew Wings

These wings were released as part of the Sauce Lab promotion, a limited time release of special sauce flavors.
Image Courtesy: Buffalo Wild Wings

We’ve all been there, the big game on TV, an order of Buffalo Wild Wings in front of us, ready to chow down. 

Just one thing missing. 

C’mon, we’ve all thought it: “Man, if only there were a way to combine the tang of B-Dubs with the saccharine, sugary rush of Mountain Dew.” 

No? You, never has that thought entered your mind? 


In a perplexing move, Buffalo Wild Wings once graced its menu with “Zesty Citrus” wings, a concoction blending the iconic flavors of the neon drink with savory poultry. 

Maybe not the most insane of ideas, combos like chicken and waffles and syrup with bacon are iconic. But if I really wanted zesty citrus flavors with my wings, couldn’t I just take a sip, not a dip? 

The marriage of Mountain Dew and wing sauce is a step too far. 



4. Taco Bell Seafood Salad

The seafood salad was pulled from Taco Bell menus after several reported cases of food poisoning.
Image Courtesy: Taco Bell

In a bid to challenge the fast-food seafood stigma, Taco Bell introduced the ill-fated Seafood Salad in 1986. 

Sporting shrimp and imitation crab, this offering aimed to rival McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish but fell short of leaving a lasting impression because, well, nothing says delicious like “imitation crab meat.” 

While the Seafood Salad has faded into obscurity, culinary enthusiasts have attempted to resurrect its memory through recreations and recipe reconstructions, underscoring its status as a curious relic of fast food history.

Despite the potential appeal of more seafood products in the vast ocean of fast food options, there is a reason why most choices are deep-fried. Freshness is vital when it comes to products from the sea. That isn’t exactly what the fast food industry is known for.  



3. Wendy’s T-rex burger

The T-rex burger began as a fake ad in ‘Sports Illustrated,’ but became a reality when customers began requesting it.
The burger was sold in one Canadian location in 2013 and came with a $21 price tag.
Image Courtesy: Wendy’s

Wendy’s, known for its fresh, never-frozen square burgers, ventured into uncharted territory with the T-Rex Burger—an audacious creation boasting nine beef patties and nine slices of cheese. 

Personally, after ordering a Dave’s Triple, I’d thought that three-quarters of a pound of beef was too much meat.

Someone at Wendy’s did not. 

The T-Rex Burger boasted nearly 10 quarter-pound patties, totaling 2.25 pounds of good old ground beef; add on the layers of cheese, pile on the lettuce, tomato and onions, and that’ll clog the arteries real quick.

While novelty and excess have long been hallmarks of fast food innovation, the T-Rex Burger pushed the boundaries of indulgence to the extreme at 3,000 calories. 

While the 9×9 fell short of the estimated 40,000 calories that made up a T-Rex’s daily diet, one thing is for sure, regular consumption of this monstrous meat cake would lead to one’s extinction pretty fast.



2. KFC Double Down Dog

In 2020, the Double Down dog was released at select locations in the Philippines, and never released in the U.S. marker.
Image Courtesy: kentucky Fried Chicken

The Kentucky Fried Chicken test kitchen has created some legends – the Double Down, anyone? Two of KFC’s Extra Crispy, 100 percent white meat filets, two slices of cheese, two pieces of crispy, hickory-smoked bacon, with either the Colonel’s real mayo or spicy sauce. It was so epic, the company brought it back last March after a decade of the menu. 

The Kentucky Fried failure that lands KFC on this list is the Double Down’s distant street meat cousin, the Double Down Dog. Their (mis)take on the classic ballgame slugger ensconced between two fried chicken fillets. 

A culinary crossover that defied convention, the Double Down Dog failed to garner the cult following of the original Double Down. 

The combo of poultry and processed meat proved polarizing. The idea is hard to wrap my head around, let alone want to sink my teeth into.



1. Long John Silver’s Big Catch Meal

Long John Silver’s discontinued this item at the end of 2013, after the $4.99 combo was voted “”Worst Restaurant Meal in America” based on its fat and sodium content.
Image Courtesy: Long John Silver’s

Claiming the ignominious honor of “The Worst Restaurant Meal in America” is Long John Silver’s Big Catch Meal.

While not the most overtly disgusting menu item on the list, behind its remarkably unassuming facade hid an astounding 33 grams of trans fat. More fat than 20 Big Macs combined.

The fish wasn’t the problem. While Long John Silver’s has long prided itself on its quality-sourced fish, the Big Catch Meal was more oil than fish.

The combo platter was just a high trans fat oil delivery system. Hushpuppies and onion rings served alongside deep-fried haddock.

I have to imagine it tasted pretty good. I mean, c’mon. There has got to be an upside to eating this thing. Right?

But the dish might have well been served with a side of heart disease and stroke. 

While we’ll never be able to bite into a Big Catch or order a Taco Bell seafood salad, who knows what the next fast food failure might be? So when you order that next “innovative” menu item, remember that the line between innovation and excess is fine. 


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About the Contributor
Carter Hull
Carter Hull, Staff Writer
Carter Hull is a junior and a member of Key club. He is also a staff writer for the Inkspot. My hidden talent is my exceptional Bop-It! ability. My favorite film is RRR.  
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