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The rise and fall of McDonald’s pizza, a doomed fast-food icon



a slice of pizza sitting on top of a table: McDonald's pizza is gone but not forgotten. Dan Keck/Wikimedia Commons


© Dan Keck/Wikimedia Commons
McDonald’s pizza is gone but not forgotten. Dan Keck/Wikimedia Commons

Do you remember the McPizza? 

Gen Z probably doesn’t. But, for children of the ’80s and ’90s, the dish brings back memories of a time when you could order a pizza alongside your burgers and fries. 

For some reason, McDonald’s Twitter account also recently decided to reminisce about its lost pizza, tweeting: “remember when we sold McPizza.” 

 

Memories of McPizzas past provide an opportunity to walk down memory lane, savoring the cheesy nostalgia of menu items lost but not forgotten. 

The dawn of the McPizza 



a group of people sitting at a table: Family purchasing pizza at McDonald's in the '90s. David E. Klutho/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images


© David E. Klutho/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Family purchasing pizza at McDonald’s in the ’90s. David E. Klutho/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

McDonald’s first debuted its pizza in the ’80s. Rivals mocked McDonald’s attempts, with Pizza Hut even running ads calling the pies “McFrozen” in 1989.  

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The pizza became a part of a wider effort from the chain to win over customers around dinnertime in the early ’90s. McDonald’s also tested items including “grilled cod served on french bread with sauce, lettuce and tomato, and ‘Chicken Zestado,’ a grilled chicken breast served on pita bread with salsa,” the Associated Press reported in 1991.

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Unfortunately, the McPizza — like most of McDonald’s other attempts to expand outside of burger and fries — did not really succeed. By the end of the ’90s, nearly every McDonald’s in America had removed pizza from the menu.

However, a few holdouts remained. Two McDonald’s locations  — one in Pomeroy, Ohio, and the other in Spencer, West Virginia — continued to sell pizza until a few years ago, when corporate McDonald’s forced them to remove the menu item.

Today, only one McDonald’s continues to serve pizza: a mega-location in Orlando, Florida. The Orlando location is the largest McDonald’s in the US and features a special menu, serving up pasta and Belgian waffles in addition to pizza. 

Will McDonald’s serve pizza again? 



graphical user interface: A McDonald's pizza ad. YouTube


© YouTube
A McDonald’s pizza ad. YouTube

McDonald’s tweet sparked some speculation on Twitter that pizza could be returning to the menu. 

Chains like Domino’s and Papa John’s have seen sales skyrocket as people stay home during the pandemic. Panera recently announced it was serving pizza for the first time. Red Robin said earlier this month it plans to add Donatos pizza to the menu at roughly half of its company-owned locations, after seeing pizza boost sales during the pandemic. 

However, adding pizza seems out of line with McDonald’s current strategy. Back in the ’90s, McDonald’s struggled to speedily serve up pizza. In the drive-thru-centric world of fast-food in 2020, adding pizza would be even more difficult. 

Read more: The pandemic is permanently changing fast food as Wendy’s, Burger King, and Chipotle double down on high-tech drive-thrus

The chain has been simplifying its menu, with franchisees and employees pushing for a permanent retirement for All Day Breakfast. Adding pizza would be the opposite of simplification. 

McDonald’s did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the possible renaissance of the McPizza. On Twitter, McDonald’s responded to a question about the menu item’s potential return by tweeting: “brian from legal said i can’t answer this one.” 

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