One Of McDonald's Most Expensive Failures Is Coming Back

Apparently, McDonald's hasn't learned from their mistakes — even the really expensive ones. 

Back in the '90s, McDonald's made an attempt to appeal to the high-class customer with the Arch Deluxe. In case you're not old enough to remember this short-lived menu item, it was a quarter-pound burger set inside of a sesame seed bun, with peppered bacon, cheese, and fresh toppings like romaine lettuce, onions, and tomatoes — something fairly rare at the Golden Arches back in the day. It also boasted it's own "Arch Sauce," which was a mustard-mayo dressing that was good, but no real match for Big Mac sauce.

McDonald's had high hopes for the burger — so high in fact that they set advertising records with a reported promotional budget between $150 million and $200 million, according to The New York Times. Unfortunately, the high-class sandwich also had a high-class price. At between $2.09 and $2.49 each, it averaged about 32 cents more expensive than a Big Mac — one of the more high-priced McDonald's foods at the time. In the mid-'90s, you didn't head to a fast food joint if you were looking for a fancy lunch, probably one of the major reasons the Arch Deluxe crashed and burned. It was introduced in 1996 and had been discontinued before 2000.

Two decades later, attitudes toward fast food have changed, as the arrival of fast casual restaurants has taught customers to expect more quality for their buck, even when it's served in a hurry. McDonald's must think their customers are ready for higher quality, too, since they appear to be giving the Arch Deluxe another go — but this time with a twist. 

Seven locations in Oklahoma and Texas are testing a new menu item called the Archburger — a name that sounds suspiciously like a nod to their failed Deluxe. This time though, the burger is made with fresh beef, something more and more customers are looking for. The Archburger pairs that fresh beef with cheese, pickles, onions, and our old friend Arch Sauce. Another change that customers are sure to appreciate is the price. The new burger will be more wallet-friendly with prices starting at $2.19 — nearly the half the price of a Big Mac, which goes for around $4 these days. 

This isn't the first time McDonald's has made the leap to fresh beef. The chain started testing fresh beef on their Quarter Pounders at select locations in early 2017, and says they'll roll that initiative out nationwide by mid-2018. Fresh beef may make for tastier burgers, but customers at test locations haven't been completely satisfied with the change. After all, cooked-to-order fresh beef takes the "fast" out of fast food — not a welcome change in the drive-through lane.

Still McDonald's expects the change to be beneficial. The burger giant has seen declining sales for four years in a row and attributes much of that loss to chains advertising fresh beef, like Wendy's, Whataburger, Five Guys and Shake Shack. 

In other moves toward fresher, more simple ingredients, McDonald's has stopped using antibiotics in the chicken, and has pledged to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs in the next ten years. Let's hope the Archburger tests well, so the rest of the country can have a chance to judge it for themselves.