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McLean Deluxe

Long before Super Size Me, McDonald's tried to help customers shrink their waistlines. Unfortunately customers couldn't stomach the taste.

Pam Francis//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

More than a decade before the "Super Size Me" documentary, nutritionists were attacking McDonald's for what they considered an unhealthy menu. To appease these critics and lure the health-conscious crowd into its restaurants, McDonald's unveiled the McLean Deluxe in 1991. It advertised the burger as 91 percent fat free; it had 10 grams of fat compared to the Big Mac's 26 [source: McCullough].

The secret was in the seaweed. To make the burger so lowfat, the company replaced the fat content with water. The recipe called for carrageenan -- a seaweed extract -- to bind the water to the beef. Beef made up only 90 percent of the patty, and water and carrageenan made up the remaining 10 percent [source: Riley]. Despite the addition of "natural" beef flavor additives, the result was a dry failure of a burger that was later called "the McFlopper" [source: Collins].

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