McDonald's is bringing back one of its most expensive failures — but there's a catch

  • McDonald's is testing a burger made with fresh beef, called the Archburger, at a handful of locations.

  • The burger seems to be a revamped version of the Arch Deluxe, a McDonald's flop from the late 1990s.

  • McDonald's spent an estimated $200 million advertising the Arch Deluxe before discontinuing the burger, which was supposed to win over more sophisticated customers.

McDonald's is testing a new take on a high-profile flop.

The fast-food chain recently began a test of Archburgers made with fresh beef at a handful of restaurants, McDonald's confirmed to Business Insider. According to a note from Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski, McDonald's is testing the fresh-beef burger at seven locations in Oklahoma and Texas.

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With the test, it appears that McDonald's "Arch Sauce" has returned to the menu for the first time since the late 1990s.

Arch Sauce is a mustard-mayo combination that McDonald's debuted as a topping for the Arch Deluxe — a sandwich aimed at more sophisticated and "adult" customers — that debuted in 1996.

Trump McDonald's
Trump McDonald's

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McDonald's spent an estimated $150 million to $200 million advertising the Arch Deluxe's rollout, which was, at the time, the most expensive promotional campaign in fast-food history, The New York Times reported.

The fast-food chain's executives predicted that the burger would bring in $1 billion in sales in 1996. However, the burger — which, at between $2.09 and $2.49, was pricier than typical McDonald's fare — failed to win over customers and was discontinued in the late '90s.

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In 2018, McDonald's is once again trying to use Arch Sauce to appeal to more gourmet-minded customers, pairing it with fresh beef in the Archburger. But this time, the burger is more reasonably priced, starting at $2.19 for an Archburger with cheese, pickle, onions, and Arch Sauce. A Big Mac, for comparison, typically costs about $3.99.

"We are continuing to raise the bar for our customers with new menu items and ways to experience our brand," representative Becca Hary said.

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