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5 Major Fast-Food Items Losing Popularity With Customers

These items have gone from beloved to disappointing.

Back in the '90s, burgers and fries were in their heyday. There may have been a plethora of high-waisted jeans and scrunchies in that decade, too, but there was also a distinct lack of widespread health-consciousness and environmental concern. As society has continued to evolve toward the latter, fast food has, at times, struggled to keep up.

Here are some of the fast-food items that have aged poorly and have gone from beloved or promising to disappointing. And for more, check out 5 Major Fast-Food Chains Falling Out of Favor With Customers.

McDonald's McRib

Mcdonald's mcrib
Robson90 / Shutterstock

The McRib has made another comeback this year, to a healthy amount of skepticism. Does anyone still like this item? Did they ever? According to a slew of negative reviews and internet chatter, the answer to both questions is a resounding "no." This Reddit user put it perhaps most bluntly, saying: "The McRib is a POS complete disgrace to the pork tenderloin family … with bland disgusting barbecue sauce. It's an abomination to the sandwich family. I just tried one 15 minutes ago and it deserves to be sent back to its graveyard."

Others on the thread agree, calling the sandwich "disappointing," "strange," and "boring." Reviewers echo these concerns, citing, in particular, the lack of barbecue sauce and the poor quality of the meat. The texture is reportedly loose, soft, and crumbly in a way that is unnatural for ribs.

"At this rate, McDonald's should just partner with one of those faux-meat companies and start selling the McFib," wrote one reviewer.

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McDonald's French Fries

mcdonald's fries

Of course, we're all still getting them—who can say no to a side of fries—but it seems we're not as happy about the Mickey D's side of fries as we once were.

The issue boils down (literally) to what McDonald's cooks their fries in. As we've previously reported, the pre-1990s side of french fries was sloshed in beef tallow (basically, beef fat), before the brand switched over to vegetable oil and then, beginning in 2002, moved to a soy-corn oil blend. Mickey D's then made moves in 2007 and 2008 to a version of the oil that was free of trans fats—so, yes, we have had over a decade to get used to these new fries.

But if you had any doubt that nostalgia for fast food could last for several decades, think again. People are still griping about the downgraded fry flavor. As one Reddit user attested, the worst menu item is unequivocally the fries.

"Ever since they changed the oil. Before, the fries became limp if you didn't eat it right away. Now, they become hard," they wrote.

Burger King's Impossible Whopper

burger king impossible whopper in two hands with wrapper
Adam Bible / Eat This, Not That!

Burger King's attempt at a plant-based offering may have been pioneering, but by and large, it has not been well received. A perfect example of an item trying to keep up with a growing amount of competition and failing, the Impossible Whopper can now be found on several "worst BK menu items" lists. In fact, the reviews were lukewarm from the get-go, including our own. And as one reviewer put it very plainly, "It's not bad… it's just not exceptional either."

There's another layer to The Impossible Whopper's disappointing nature. For all of the hoopla about there finally being a meatless fast-food option, the Impossible Whopper may not even totally qualify as vegan due to the way it's prepared. In 2019 a customer sued the chain, saying that he felt, "duped by Burger King's deceptive practices into eating a meat-free Whopper Patty that was in fact covered in meat byproducts." Similarly, people have complained that the plant-based whopper isn't even much healthier than a regular old beef burger.

Basically, the Impossible Whopper fails on almost all levels: taste, health, and veganism.

Dunkin's Hash Browns

Dunkin Donuts hasbrowns
Courtesy of Dunkin'

There are few fast-food items that receive as much vitriol online as Dunkin's hash browns. You might think that, as a breakfast-centric chain, Dunkin' would have this quintessential breakfast item on lock. Instead, the chain receives regular criticism for these bad boys. In fact, one user dedicated an entire Reddit thread to slamming the browns, saying "I've never been able to finish them all because I'm afraid it'll make me sick. They taste like chemicals and bizarre herbs and are always floppy wet sponges with no crispness to them."

And others agree. On yet another thread dedicated to the disgusting nature of these spud patties, a user said, "Dunkin Donuts truly has the worst hash browns. They should take them off the menu. They are greasy, the herb combination in them tastes awful and they leave you feeling quite ill."

The chemical-tasting theme has been echoed all across the internet—even on TripAdvisor—which begs the question: what exactly is Dunkin' doing wrong with this menu item?

Popeye's Coleslaw

popeyes sides
Courtesy of Popeyes

According to a recent poll by Mashed, 31% of people said that coleslaw is the absolute worst item on Popeyes otherwise-poppin' menu. It has a rap as being overly "creamy" and "bland," which perhaps is the reason for its repeatedly low ranking on best and worst lists.

Not unlike Dunkin's hash browns, the hatred for Popeye's coleslaw runs so deep that it even lives on Trip Advisor. As one reviewer wrote, "that Cole Slaw was not sweet and it was full of mayonnaise. Do Better. To be honest I threw it away because it did not taste good at all."

For more, check out the 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked By How Toxic They Are.

Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more about Kaley