Fast food restaurants span the country, occupying street corners and strip malls. Couples even tie the knot in fast food restaurants. But fast food restaurants don’t always get it right. Below, see which fast food chains have menu items do so poorly, they’re removed, and which ones experience public relations disasters.
Domino’s – the noid
In 1986, the Noid becomes the mascot for Domino’s, according to Co. Design. Then on January 30, 1989, 22-year-old Kenneth Lamar Noid, enters a Domino’s in Atlanta, Georgia, armed with a gun, and holds two employees hostage. Noid has a standoff with the police, culminating in the employees escape and Noid being deemed 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 say.
Hint: Pineapple on a burger doesn’t go over well at this iconic fast food chain.
McDonald’s – hula burger
The founder of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, introduces the Hula Burger in 1962, for Catholic customers observing lent. The burger, served with a slice of cheese over the pineapple, fails miserably, according to CNBC. Customers abstaining from meat go for the filet-O-fish sandwich, which goes on to be a menu mainstay.
Hint: Burger King sells mystery meat.
Burger King – horse meat
A meat supplier for Burger King is found to have traces of horse meat in their patties, according to USA Today. The supplier works for Burger King locations in the U.K. and Ireland. Burger King cuts ties with the supplier and maintains that their patties are made of 100 percent beef.
Hint: A chain stores meat next to a dumpster.
Golden Corral – improper storage
A Golden Corral employee films a video at a Florida location storing raw meat in the same area as the dumpster. Supposedly this is done to prepare for an inspection. The employee posts the video and goes viral. The owner of the Golden Corral where the video’s filmed releases a statement saying the food placed near the dumpster’s is never intended for human consumption, according to the Huffington Post.
Hint: A picture sparks a major controversy for this chain.
Subway – footlong
A photo of a Subway footlong measuring 11 inches goes viral in 2013 leading to many Subway customers measuring their subs, according to USA Today. The picture leads to a class action lawsuit. As part of a settlement agreement, Subway says they’ll equip stores with a measurement tool to ensure each sub is 12 inches long.
Hint: Trying to compete with Starbucks backfires on this chain.
Dairy Queen – ‘moolatte’
In 2004, Dairy Queen, in an effort to compete with Starbucks, introduces the MooLatte, a mixture of coffee and ice cream. The name very 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 says. The MooLatte is still on DQ’s menu today.
Hint: One chain has a racist reputation.
Denny’s – racist reputation
Denny’s reputation for being racist comes to a head in 1994. A $54 million settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by black customers claiming discrimination is issued. This marks the largest lawsuit pursued under the Civil Rights Act, according to Aaron Allen and Associates, a global restaurant consulting company. The company starts an anti-racism campaign and increases diversity among all levels company-wide.
Hint: A YouTube video spells disaster.
Domino’s – video of employees
Domino’s Pizza discovers a YouTube video posted by employees doing disgusting things to the food at one of their chains in 2009. After the discovery of the video, Domino’s issues a statement and a video shortly after the video goes up online. Both employees featured in the video are fired. Today, this is viewed as a positive response to a crisis but the company’s reputation did take a hit at the time, according to Aaron Allen and Associates.
Hint: Hundreds of customers fall ill at this chain.
Chi-Chi’s – Hepatitis A. outbreak
The biggest outbreak of Hepatitis A at an American restaurant causes Chi-Chi’s to close the doors of the location responsible, according to The New York Times. In total, 660 people contract Hepatitis A after eating contaminated scallions, according to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. Four people die because of the outbreak.
Hint: People die after eating meat from this chain.
Jack in the Box – E. Coli outbreak
More than 700 people contract 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 responds to the outbreaks by taking no responsibility, and pointing the blame elsewhere. Nearly 200 people are hospitalized and four die.
Hint: Woman buys a finger for $100.
Wendy’s – finger in chili
In 2005, a woman claims to find a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili. Authorities think the incident is a hoax because the finger’s not cooked, according to ABC News. The woman is sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiracy and grand theft. The woman’s husband is sentenced to 12 years in prison for buying the severed finger and giving his wife the idea.
Hint: A CEOs views reflect poorly on this fast food chain.
Chick-fil-A – CEO against gay marriage
The CEO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, makes a comment to the Baptist Press about being against gay marriage in 2012. He’s quoted as saying “guilty as charged” about supporting traditional marriage, according to Forbes. His comment sparks protests across the nation, including kiss-ins at Chick-fil-A restaurants.
Hint: A fast food company runs out of a key ingredient.
KFC – chicken shortage
KFC runs out of chicken at locations across the U.K. in Feb. 2018. DHL, takes over logistics for KFC on Valentine’s Day and a disaster quickly ensues, according to The Guardian. Chicken sits in a warehouse with KFC locations not receiving any deliveries. The source of the problem may be that DHL operates one warehouse while KFC’s previous contractor maintains six.
Hint: A Twitter campaign goes terribly wrong.
McDonald’s – Twitter campaign backfires
McDonald’s starts a Twitter campaign using the hashtag, #McDStories, to inspire Twitter users to share stories about Happy Meals, according to Forbes. Instead, the hashtag inspires 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.
Hint: A major chain’s Twitter account is hacked.
Burger King – Twitter account hacked
A hacker takes control of Burger King’s Twitter account and changes the profile picture to the McDonald’s logo and the account name to “McDonald’s,” according to the Huffington Post. The hacker then posts tweets about McDonald’s purchasing Burger King along with a slew of other tweets. Burger King releases a statement about their account being hacked and apologizes to their customers.
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