1989 – McDonald’s’ attempt at cashing in on the popularity of the first Batman film by offering a live baby bat with the purchase of every Happy Meal backfires horribly when the cave excavation meant to capture the requisite number of bats releases an enormous colony which takes over Burnbone, Texas, a small town outside Austin. Within weeks Burnbone is abandoned and eventually disincorporated.
1990 – Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is criticized by the State Department after printing an essay lamenting the disbandment of the Warsaw Pact on all medium soft drink cups.
1995 – Public backlash against Burger King results in the shuttering of nearly one-hundred locations after it is discovered that the chain’s controversial “Make Your Own French Fries” promotion is underwritten by Hanger, Inc, one the nation’s largest providers of prosthetic limbs.
1997 – Taco Bell attempts to compete with Nathan’s Hot Dogs by launching what is intended as an annual taco eating competition. The plan falters when each of the initial contestants politely forfeits after eating a single taco.
2001 – Domino’s Pizza is forced to distance itself from The Noid after the former spokesman is arrested for threatening the Little Caesar’s mascot with a pistol outside The Viper Room is Los Angeles. The Noid was sentenced to ten years in prison and currently serves as a top advisor to the Trump campaign.
2002 – Arby’s’ ill-fated foray into the world of promotional giveaways ends with the chain’s short-lived partnership with the producers of the film About Schmidt and the decision to include small replicas of the scene where Jack Nicholson squirms in a hot tub beside a nude Kathy Bates with every combo meal. While the replicas were initially popular, the discovery that they were made from real ivory resulted in a backlash that some blame for Nicholson losing the Academy Award that year to Adrien Brody.
2014 – After facing criticism for their ad campaign depicting scantily clad models rapturously wolfing down burgers, Carl’s Jr. releases a new, more realistic ad featuring actress and comedian Brett Butler eating a biscuit alone in her car. Most networks refuse to air the ad in primetime, citing it as being much too sad.
2016 – In an attempt to win back the public trust, beleaguered burrito chain Chipotle experiments with installing teams of paramedics in some of their dining rooms. The plan is scuttled after several of the paramedics succumb to E. coli following their free shift meal at lunchtime