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​Why McDonald's created bubble gum-flavored broccoli

It sounds like one of Willy Wonka's rejected ideas: Bubble gum-flavored broccoli.

But the creation was far from fictional: It was a concoction whipped up by the fast-food giant McDonald's (MCD), with chief executive Don Thompson telling attendees at a Thursday event that the motivation was to create a way to get kids to eat healthier, according to Business Insider.

So why isn't your local McDonald's selling bubble-gum flavored brassicas? Apparently adding a sweet flavor to broccoli doesn't make it any more appetizing to kids, who were confused by the taste, Thompson told the audience. The test comes as the fast-food chain is under pressure to create healthier options, while some consumers are shifting to rivals such as Chipotle (CMG), which promotes its use of organic and local produce.

Still, McDonald's isn't giving up on tweaks to its menu. Instead of introducing candy-flavored veggies, it's focusing on tactics such as reducing the size of its fry servings and adding low-fat yogurt to its Happy Meals.

Asked about the gum-flavored broccoli, McDonald's responded in an email to CBS MoneyWatch, "We're always looking at new food innovations and recipes that will appeal to our customers." It didn't disclose how the gum flavor was added to broccoli or if it's working on other approaches to making veggies more appealing to kids.

The world's largest restaurant chain is under pressure to revive sales. It's streamlining its menu to compete more effectively against Chipotle and other fast-casual chains. To that end, McDonald's has been testing a build-your-own burger concept, and also allowing some franchisees to tweak their menus.

The new approach may be having an impact, with McDonald's posting October same-store sales that topped analysts' expectations.

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