​A Slice of History: The Saga of McDonald's Ill-Fated McPizza

​A Slice of History: The Saga of McDonald's Ill-Fated McPizza

Posted by Emily on 24th Oct 2023

Do you remember when McDonald's tried to tantalise our taste buds with slices of cheesy goodness? Yes, we're talking about the legendary McDonald's pizza, albeit not so successful. The McPizza saga is a tantalising tale of ambition, innovation, and a surprising twist in the fast-food narrative.

DowneyMcdonalds Photo by Bryan Hong (Brybry26), CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

In a whimsical throwback, McDonald's UK recently set Twitter abuzz, cheekily asking: "Remember when we sold McPizza?" This tweet triggered a sense of nostalgia and left mouths watering at the thought of the fast-food chain's audacious foray into pizzas.

Harking back to the late '80s, McDonald's, synonymous with its iconic burgers and fries, decided to venture beyond its culinary comfort zone. The goal was simple yet ambitious: capture the dinner crowd with a tantalising new offering – pizza. Little did they know, this would begin a rollercoaster journey in the annals of fast-food history.

Children of the '80s and '90s might recall the novelty of ordering a McPizza, an unexpected sidekick to the usual McDonald's fare. However, Generation Z may well scratch their heads in bewilderment at the thought of this unlikely menu item. Nonetheless, for those who experienced it, the McPizza remains a cheesy slice of nostalgia.

The plot thickened in the '80s with McDonald's audacious dream becoming reality. Yet, rivals didn't shy away from a bit of a scoff. Pizza Hut, for instance, couldn't resist a jab, launching adverts in 1989 that derided the McDonald's offerings as "McFrozen."

Throughout the early '90s, McDonald's relentless pursuit of the dinner market led them to test various dishes. From grilled cod sandwiches to exotic-sounding 'Chicken Zestado', the brand was trying to redefine fast food. Yet, the star of this period, the McPizza, struggled to truly find its place amidst the Big Macs and Happy Meals.

By the twilight of the '90s, the McPizza dream had all but evaporated, with the item disappearing from menus across the United States. Nonetheless, a few resilient outposts clung to the legacy — notably, establishments in Pomeroy, Ohio, and Spencer, West Virginia. They valiantly continued serving pizzas until a few years ago when the McDonald's higher-ups mandated a return to standardisation.

Fast forward to today, and there remains but one bastion of the McPizza heritage: a sprawling McDonald's in Orlando, Florida. Not your average outlet, this mega-location delights patrons with an eclectic menu featuring everything from pasta to Belgian waffles and, yes, the legendary pizza.

Amidst the pandemic, as pizza sales have boomed, speculation has been rife about a possible McPizza comeback, especially after McDonald's nostalgia-inducing tweet. Major players like Domino's and Papa John's have seen their profits soar, while others like Panera and Red Robin have jumped on the bandwagon, adding pizzas to their repertoire.

Yet, for McDonald's, a revival of the McPizza seems incongruent with their current ethos. The lessons from the past are clear: pizzas complicate the streamlined, fast-paced kitchen environment, an even more glaring issue in today's drive-thru-dominated landscape. With a recent push towards menu simplification and whispers of bidding adieu to their All Day Breakfast, McDonald's appears to be moving further from, rather than closer to, a pizza-filled horizon.

Despite the rampant speculation, McDonald's remains coy about any plans to resurrect the McPizza. In response to burgeoning online queries, their cryptic reply was a tongue-in-cheek, "Brian from legal said I can't answer this one."

So, the saga remains a slice of fast-food folklore, a testament to McDonald's adventurous spirit, and a cheesy memory savoured by those who experienced the rise and fall of the McPizza.