Remember That Time In The Early ’90s When McDonald’s Tried To Do Pizza?

Cast your mind back to the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s… when you had a craving for that delicious Italian combination of carbs, sauce and cheese, you’d head straight to McDonald’s, right? No? Yeah, we’re with you on that one — who knew McDonald’s ever tried to grab a piece of the pizza pie? Tried, and ultimately, failed.

The folks over at Mental Floss dip into the halls of fast food history, uncovering a long lost tale of pizza failure. See, once upon a time, McDonald’s got a bit greedy, and tried to horn in on the dinner business market by adding pizza to the menu.

In 1986, tongues started to wag — McDonald’s had a plan to rival chains like Pizza Hut as well as independent pizza parlors. It wasn’t called McPizza, as one might think as that name was used for a calzone product Mickey D’s tested briefly in the 1980s.

Expanded testing started in 1989, with about 24 restaurants in Indiana and Kentucky participating. This move essentially started a war, as Pizza Hut was far from pleased with the new competition.

“Don’t make a McStake,” one Pizza Hut ad urged. The company called McDonald’s pies “McFrozen” dough, and started offering two-for-one deals to keep its customers happy.

Things weren’t going too well for McDonald’s pizza in any case: The quick-cook oven the company worked long and hard on meant major renovations for franchisees. And the drive-thru window? Forget about it — how are you supposed to shove a pizza through many older windows, which simply weren’t big enough. More renovations would have been required.

Even those locations that did remodel their kitchens and drive-thru windows weren’t faring great: It took too long to get the pizzas cooked and to customers, especially when the restaurants got busy. The pizzas were more expensive than rivals as well, which turned off customers who were used to spending much less elsewhere.

McDonald’s was determined, however, and had expanded the pizza option to almost 40% of its restaurants in the early 1990s. Then, like some fever dream you’d have after eating too much McDonald’s, the pizza experiment was quickly over, at least in America. Canada held on somewhat longer, but ultimately went the same way as U.S. restaurants and stopped serving pizza.

Some things are just not meant to be: Sushi and hangovers, peanut butter and French fries, and McDonald’s and pizza. But we can always look back, and wonder… what the heck were you thinking, McDonald’s?

The Short, Strange Life of McDonald’s Pizza [Mental Floss]