5 Failed McDonald's Menu Items

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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.
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].