McPasta

The Time McDonald’s Tried to Sell McPasta

McDonald’s has tried a lot of off the wall menu items in their time. Some are fondly remembered like the McD.L.T., and others are still scorned to this day (I’m looking at you here Arch Deluxe). But a few products have come along that most of the population totally missed out on, and McPasta was one of them.

In 1990, McDonald’s decided they would try to add some entrees to their menu that weren’t hamburgers or Chicken McNuggets. They dreamed up this concept of McPasta dishes and roasted chicken legs, and felt sure it would be a big hit. Before they released it to the masses though, they went the test market route.

A small area in New York was selected, as well as chain of franchise stores in Northeast Tennessee for this new line of McPasta products. Fortunately, I lived in a part of southern Virginia where that franchisee had two locations, and they put the product in those two stores as well.

You can check out the New York Post story on this test from 1991 here.

What they offered was a selection of Spaghetti, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Lasagna, and Fettuccine Alfredo. Each dish came with a garlic bread stick as well. They also decided to offer roasted chicken legs as a side item, as well as mashed potatoes. How those last two items fit in to the McPasta lineup I’ve yet to figure out.

To be honest, the only one I ever tried was the Fettuccine…..and I thought it was awesome! For the six month period they were testing the line, it’s what I ordered on every trip to the golden arches. My Mom loved it too, and since my Dad was out-of-town a lot, she felt it was easier to just run to McDonald’s and pick up a couple of Fettuccine platters for the two of us instead of cooking, so I got to have the pasta goodness a lot.

Imagine my sadness one day when I went to order my favorite McPasta dish only to be told it was no longer available. I listened in horror as the lady at the counter relayed the info to my Mom and I that it had been a test product, and she had no way of knowing if it would be added back to the menu or not.

As the weeks and months passed by, I would continue to inquire about it on every trip to Happy Meal land. And every time I was disappointed. After a while, I came to the sad conclusion that McPasta wasn’t coming back at all.

For years I reminisced about it, only to find it strange when other people had no idea what the heck I was talking about. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why no one had even heard of McDonald’s McPasta. Then one day it popped into my brain and I searched it out on the internet. It was there that I discovered that it had been a test product with just a very limited release, and that’s why everyone thought I was crazy when I would bring it up.

To this day I miss that McPasta Fettuccine. But now I look back and realize that the stars were aligned perfectly for me to even have gotten to experience it in the first place. Some say, it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. But for those people who say that, to them I say they never loved McDonald’s Fettuccine Alfredo.

(Sadly, there is virtually no pictures or video of this stuff available to share with this article.)

Rainbow Brite

Do You Recall Rainbow Brite Sprites At Taco Bell?

When Rainbow Brite hit the scene back in 1983 it took hold. Created by none other than Gary Glissmeyer, Cheryl Cozad, and Dan Drake of Hallmark Cards, Inc. Rainbow Brite had dolls and toys, produced by Mattel. In addition to the images of the more popular characters being found on clothing, bedding, and other media.

The sales of Rainbow Brite merchandise also led to an animated series in 1984. With Warner Bros. releasing the feature-length animated movie Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer to theaters in 1985. An adventure that leads R.B. and the Color Kids to attempt to thwart a Winter on Earth. A supernatural and never-ending cold brought on by Stormy, the opposite of our heroine.
Rainbow Brite

There is of course a lot of songs included in the film. Naturally.

[Via] I-Mockery


With all of this popularity it only stands to reason that fast food giants of the time would jump in. Incredibly popular places like Taco Bell for example. Instead of focusing on offering R.B. dolls they wisely chose to sell Sprites. The hardworking and lovable companions to R.B. and the Color Kids.

[Via] Hai Karate 4

So now that you might be hungry for Taco Bell. This would be the perfect time to remind you that Rainbow Brite also had a cereal!

[Via] Retrostatic

Halloween and McDonald’s

We’ve talked a little bit this month about what constitutes bad Halloween treats (pencils, pencil erasers, toothbrushes), but what about … gift certificates?

I remember receiving McDonald’s Gift Certificates a few times in the late 70s and early 80s, back in my prime trick-or-treating years. The 1979 commercial below says that the gift certificates were good for a free drink, but I seem to remember receiving some that were good for a sundae as well.

If you didn’t have a pillow sack or some other cool bucket to stash your goods in, you could always pick up one of these plastic carriers from McDonald’s.

At least one year, McDonald’s dressed up the McNuggets in various Halloween outfits.

This commercial coincided with McNugget Happy Meal toys in similar Halloween-themed costumes.

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Burger King … RIP?

It was announced over the weekend that Burger King (the restaurant) is retiring the most royal of mascots … “The King”.

wooden-burger-king

Burger King first opened its doors back in 1954, and although “The King” has gone through several redesigns throughout the years, he’s always been part of the company’s brand.

bk-logo

Here’s a picture from TVAcres.com of a Burger King doll from the 1980s.

bk-doll

Unfortunately Burger King’s “King” was never as strong of a character as Ronald McDonald or even a Fry Guy. As a result, the King made few television appearances from the 1950s all the way up through the 1990s.

(Eagle-eyed Retroist fans should have spotted Elizabeth Shue and Andrew McCarthy in that clip. If you did, good job!)

In the late 2000s, Burger King tried to revamp the King’s image by making him … creepier. In a series of television commercials, the King would randomly appear and deliver people food.

I’m pretty sure accepting a breakfast sandwich from a strange adult who you’ve just discovered was sleeping in your bed pretty much breaks every “Stranger Danger” rule I learned in grade school.

This newer, creepier King became so popular for a short period of time that three Xbox 360 games were released starring The King. Each game was $3.99. My favorite of the three was Sneak King, a game in which you, as the Burger King, had to sneak up on people and deliver them sandwiches. The first level had you, dressed as The Burger King, sneaking up on working loggers — guys actively using chainsaws and axes. This has “bad idea” written all over it.

Over the weekend, Burger King (the company) announced that in an effort to reinvent itself, it will be moving away from the mascot. Maybe The King will be Burger King’s response to McDonald’s McRib, and will only make yearly appearances.

If you really start missing The King, keep in mind that Halloween is right around the corner, and Burger King costumes, especially over the past few years, have been a big hit.

bk-king-head

Classic Roy Rogers Fast Food Sign

Roy Rogers dotted the landscape of New Jersey when I was growing up. Sadly in the competitive fast food market, they just couldn’t keep up and they did not make it. I do think that 1 or 2 independent ones still might exist there though. When we stopped there, I would have chicken usually and I really enjoyed their french fries.

I wonder if they had put up some of these old style signs, if it would have helped keep Roys in business.


Roy Rogers

Classic Roy Roger’s Sign [via] Retroist Image Pool