The discontinued McDonald’s items that are gone but not forgotten

Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

McDonald’s haven’t made it to the top of global fast food without making some difficult decisions. For all the Big Macs, McNuggets and other multi-million dollar ideas that have helped the business hit the big time, there are some beloved menu items that have had to be sacrificed along the way. 

Yep, Maccies’ history is littered with food that, though it may have been tasty, ultimately failed to make the cut.

Sometimes the decisions to axe McDonald’s items will be controversial, and sometimes they’ll disappear into the night, never to be spoken of again.

But there are some discontinued McDonald’s items that deserve to be remembered.

So, let us take you on a trip down memory lane…

McDonald’s McSpaghetti

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Behold, McDonald’s McSpaghetti – now predominantly discontinued (Credit: McDonald’s)

Yup, believe it or not, McDonald’s has dabbed in spaghetti. Italian Nonnas, cover your eyes.

The McSpaghetti is what it says on the tin: spaghetti with marinara, meatballs, and grated cheese. It was sold internationally from the early 1970s onwards, but ultimately, it failed to take off because people didn’t see Maccies as their pitstop of pasta.

The other issue is that the sauce was too sweet for most Western palates.

The McSpaghetti is now discontinued everywhere except two places – Florida (occasionally) and the Philippines, where spaghetti is still a staple today.

McDonald’s McSalad Shakers

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McDonald’s McSalad Shakers didn’t make it big (Credit: McDonald’s)

The McDonald’s salad shakers came in three varieties: Chef, Grilled Chicken Caesar and Garden and were available for three years, from 2000 until 2003.

The most disappointing milkshake known to man, the shakers were designed to be filled with leafy veg, but Maccies soon realised that they weren’t a hit with shoppers, and replaced them with more premium salads in boxes – most of which include a deep fried component.

You are visiting Maccies, after all. Chances are that’s what you’re after!

McDonald’s McRib

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The McRib hasn’t been on the McDonald’s UK menu for years (Credit: McDonald’s)

Who remembers the McRib? It first appeared in restaurants in 1981 and is basically a pork rib sandwich, dripping with BBQ sauce.

The sandwich was on Maccies menu for four years in the States before they binned it. Ever since, it has popped up randomly on menus around the globe. The UK last had a five week limited run of the burger back in 2015, but the poor McRib hasn’t been given a permanent home.

Explaining the very reasonable reason they got rid of the McRib on their website, McDonald’s write: “The reason for this is that the McRib patty is made from ground pork and, in the UK, we consider it important to separate pork and beef on the grill.

“Unfortunately, many of our restaurants do not have enough grill capacity to cook pork and beef products at the same time. The breakfast menu is different because we don’t serve beef products, which allows us to have a dedicated grill for all our delicious pork products.”

McDonald’s McLean Deluxe

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McDonald’s McLean Deluxe was one of the chain’s failures (Credit: YouTube/ Analog Memories)

This was a US launch which never took off. A low fat McDonald’s burger, branded as being 91% fat free, and created not by McDonald’s head chef, but by food scientists at Auburn University. 

What could go wrong?!

The McLean Deluxe aimed to mark the beginning for a new age of healthier fast food options.

Check out a trailer for it below: 

Alas, soon after its release in 1991, people discovered that it contained, among other things, seaweed, and so stopped buying it.

Discussing the release Barry Gibbons, who was chairman and CEO of Burger King, joked: “Consumers have had their fill of healthier fare. They’re saying, `Thanks for the choice, thanks for the (nutrition) info. Whopper and fries, please.”‘

The McLean Deluxe was pulled from shelves in 1996.

McDonald’s Cheddar Melt

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McDonald’s cheddar melt didn’t win a permanent spot on menus (Credit: McDonald’s)

Even the most ardent fans of American cheese would struggle to argue that it tastes of anything. This was a situation that Maccies “Cheddar Melt” set out to rectify, with little success.

Featuring beef, onions and cheddar cheese sauce, the sandwich was pulled the very same year it debtued, in 1988. 

It was revived in 2002, and has popped up on a couple of menus since, but seems to have little staying power with the public.

Just stick with the cheese melt dippers, guys.

McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce

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Szechuan Sauce was discontinued after Mulan promo came to an end (Credit: McDonald’s)

As made famous by Rick and Morty, “Szechuan Sauce” is the holy grail of discontinued McDonald’s menu items.

Created to promote Disney’s “Mulan” – the story of a brave young girl who pretends to be a man and enrols in the Chinese military – the sauce spawned legions of dedicated admirers, all of whom went berserk when it was discontinued in 1998. 

Following promo for the film, the sauce was pulled from stores, and fans were so distraught they even started petitions to encourage its return.

It has made a few limited edition returns since, but people are still gunning for it to be given a permanent home on the menu.

You listening, McDonald’s big dogs? Give the people what they want!



Introducing the McLobster – the fancy sandwich that got priced out (Credit: McDonald’s)

It doesn’t get much fancier than this. The McLobster was popular across the States as a seasonal sandwich, but now it has been discontinued everywhere except for Atlantic Canada and New England, where it makes very occasional appearances.

The McLobster is basically a lobster roll, which is served in a hot dog bun with lettuce and “lobster sauce”.

It landed in restaurants for the first time in 1993, but was pulled due to the fact it was hard to source lobster, and the burger proved costly to create, so margins were low.

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McDonald’s menu items come and go (Credit: McDonald’s)

Some of these McDonald’s items really did fail, but others we are genuinely sad to say goodbye to. 

There’s no denying that good or bad, the discontinued McDonald’s menu items will live on in the hearts and minds of many fast food fans.

We can’t pretend we’re gutted that the McLean is no more, though.

Words by: Thomas Lethbridge and Joanna Freedman