The Hula burger was a creative but unpopular attempt by McDonald's to fill a product niche.
Ray Kroc, the legendary owner of McDonald's, invested significant time and money into developing the franchise. He tried to identify new ways of marketing and selling his products.
McDonald's stores were taking less money on Fridays than the rest of the week, and hamburger sales dropped on this day. When Kroc thought about why he realised that Catholics wouldn't eat meat on Friday. At this point, there was no non-meat meal option offered in McDonald's.
So some time in the mid 1950s, Kroc had an idea. He took a large slice of pineapple, fried it in butter, and added all the normal stuff: cheese, pickle, salad and a bun. The pineapple gave the whole thing kind of a Hawaiian feel, so he tried for a tropical-sounding name; the hula burger.
Now, Ray Kroc was a good salesman, but he wasn't always the best innovator in culinary terms. In this pre-vegetarian era, people expected real food. Unsurprisingly, most customers couldn't really see the point of the hula burger. Pineapple is a great flavouring, but can't really act as the focus of a meal. One source reports that a common joke was "I love the Hula, but where's the burger?"
The hula burger was withdrawn by McDonalds after only a few months. It took until 1962 for the solution to the Catholics and Fridays problem to be solved, and the solution came from one of the franchisees: they introduced the Filet-O-Fish.
However, the hula burger lives on! It seems there are a number of burger restaurants selling hula burgers, perhaps spurred on by a more health-conscious American consumer. However, many of these have missed the essential point, adding ham to the mix.
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