Fast food restaurants span the country, occupying street corners and strip malls. Couples even tie the knot in them. But these restaurants don’t always get it right. See which fast food chains’ menu items did so poorly they were removed and which ones experienced public relations disasters. One iconic U.S. restaurant closed down due to a disgusting outbreak (page 9).
1. Golden Corral: improper storage
A Golden Corral employee filmed a video of a Florida location storing raw meat in the same area as the dumpster. Supposedly he did it to prepare for an inspection. The employee posted the video and it went viral.
The owner of the Golden Corral released a statement saying the food placed near the dumpster was not intended for human consumption, according to the Huffington Post. But if it’s not intended for people, then what is it for?
Next: Satisfy your late-night cravings with caution.
2. Taco Bell: infected lettuce
Fourthmeal diners aren’t safe from mayhem. In 2006, five states reported E. coli outbreaks at Taco Bell locations. Experiencing severe abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea, 71 people were hospitalized and eight of those diners developed kidney failure. When researchers discovered the likely culprit — infected lettuce from California — the five states (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina) enacted stricter laws on handling the leafy green.
Next: Burger King sells a horrifying mystery meat.
3. Burger King: horse meat
A meat supplier for Burger King was found to have traces of horse meat in their patties, according to USA Today. The supplier worked for Burger King locations in the U.K. and Ireland. BK quickly cut ties with the supplier and maintains their patties are made of 100% beef.
Next: You can’t run out of your key ingredient.
4. KFC: chicken shortage
In February 2018, Colonal Sanders ran out of chicken at locations across England. A distributor, DHL, had taken over logistics for KFC and a disaster ensued, according to The Guardian.
Chicken sat in a warehouse, with KFC locations not receiving any deliveries. The problem: DHL only operated one warehouse while KFC’s previous contractor maintained six.
Next: A Twitter campaign goes terribly wrong.
5. McDonald’s: Twitter campaign backfires
McDonald’s started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag, #McDStories, to inspire Twitter users to share stories about Happy Meals, according to Forbes. Instead, the hashtag inspired people to share less happy stories. “Dude, I used to work at McDonald’s. The #McDStories I could tell would raise your hair,” Alex Roth tweeted.
Next: Bring a ruler to this fast food restaurant.
6. Subway: the famous footlong
A photo of a Subway footlong measuring 11 inches went viral in 2013 leading to many Subway customers measuring their subs, according to USA Today. The picture led to a class action lawsuit. As part of a settlement agreement, Subway said they’ll equip stores with a measurement tool to ensure each sandwich is 12 inches long.
Next: A racist reputation won’t get you far in the food industry.
7. Denny’s: racist reputation
Denny’s reputation for being racist came to a head in 1994 when a group of black customers issued a class action lawsuit citing discrimination. It marked the largest lawsuit pursued under the Civil Rights Act, according to Aaron Allen and Associates, a global restaurant consulting company.
After settling the lawsuit for $54 million, Denny’s launched an anti-racism campaign and pledged to increase diversity among all levels company-wide.
Next: A YouTube video spells disaster.
8. Domino’s: a video of employees
Domino’s Pizza discovered a YouTube video of employees doing disgusting things to the food at one of their chains in 2009. After the footage went up online, Domino’s issued a statement and fired both employees. Today, many view this as a positive response to a crisis but the company’s reputation took a hit regardless, according to Aaron Allen and Associates.
Next: Hundreds of customers fall ill at this chain.
9. Chi-Chi’s: hepatitis a outbreak
The biggest outbreak of Hepatitis A at an American restaurant caused Chi-Chi’s to close the doors of the location responsible, according to The New York Times. In total, 660 people contracted Hepatitis A after eating contaminated scallions, according to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. Four people died because of the outbreak.
Next: Trying to compete with Starbucks backfires big-time.
10. Dairy Queen: ‘moolatte’
In 2004, Dairy Queen introduced the MooLatte, a mixture of coffee and ice cream, in an effort to compete with Starbucks. Unfortunately, the name closely resembles the derogatory term “mulatto,” a politically incorrect name for a biracial person, according to CNBC.
“MooLatte sounds so much like ‘mulatto’ as to call into question the mental competence of Dairy Queen’s corporate leadership,” Slate said. The MooLatte is still on DQ’s menu today.
Next: Jack in the Box had a big surprise for diners.
11. Jack in the Box: e. coli outbreak
More than 700 people contracted E. Coli after eating contaminated meat at 73 Jack in the Box locations across four states, according to Food Safety News. Jack in the Box responded to the outbreaks by taking no responsibility and pointing the blame elsewhere. Nearly 200 people were hospitalized and four died.
Next: This makes mascots even creepier.
12. Domino’s: the noid
In 1986, the Noid became the mascot for Domino’s, according to Co. Design. Then, in 1989, Kenneth Lamar Noid entered an Atlanta Domino’s, armed with a gun, and held two employees hostage. The 22-year-old had a standoff with the police, culminating in the employees escape and Noid being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic in court.
Noid had “an ongoing feud in his mind with the owner of Domino’s Pizza about the Noid commercials,” police later said.
Next: Don’t “point the finger” at Wendy’s.
13. Wendy’s: a finger in chili
In 2005, a woman claimed to find a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili. Authorities noticed the finger wasn’t cooked and suspected a hoax, according to ABC News.
The woman received a nine-year prison sentence for conspiracy and grand theft. Her husband was sentenced to 12 years in prison for buying the severed finger and giving his wife the idea.
Next: A fast-food CEO should’ve kept his mouth shut.
14. Chick-fil-A: CEO against gay marriage
Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy, made a comment to the Baptist Press about gay marriage in 2012. He said “guilty as charged” about supporting traditional marriage, according to Forbes. Thousands of Americans boycotted the chain, inspiring protests and kiss-ins at Chick-fil-As across the nation.
Next: A hack rocks this major chain.
15. Burger King: Twitter account hacked
A hacker took control of Burger King’s Twitter account, changing the profile picture to the McDonald’s logo and the account name to “McDonald’s,” according to the Huffington Post.
The hacker then posted tweets about McDonald’s purchasing Burger King along with a slew of other tweets. Burger King released a statement about their account being hacked and apologized to their customers.
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