The food industry knows it better than most: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And among the major American fast-food chains, recipe modifications are a gamble in the best of times.
Sometimes, the payoff can be huge, like when McDonald’s replaced margarine with butter in its Egg McMuffins and saw dramatic increases in sales. Just as often, however, “improved” recipes end up being unpopular with customers, and companies are forced to backtrack to their original product.
The lesson may be that customers value consistency in their favorite foods and beverages at least as much as they value novelty—meaning that recipe changes, whatever the reasons behind them, will often be somewhat at odds with customer expectations. From the archive of the many failed fast-food recipe edits, here are five of the most notable ones. And for more on fast-food novelties, check out 7 Discontinued Items Fast-Food Chains Are Bringing Back