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McDonald's Menu Adds a (Very) New Take on an Old Favorite

The fast-food giant has been hesitant to make changes like this, but Wendy's bold move may have forced it to.

Why fix something that isn't broken?

McDonald's (MCD) - Get Free Report breakfast menu has always been built around the classic Egg McMuffin. That sandwich, which is roughly 50 years old (it was invented in 1971), was originally meant as a take on Eggs Benedict.

That explains the odd choice of Canadian Bacon as the meat for the simple sandwich featuring an egg, a slice of cheese, and the less good kind of bacon that's actually ham, all served on two English muffin halves.

Over the years, bacon and sausage versions were added, but the fast-food giant hasn't tinkered with its breakfast menu all that much. Breakfast Biscuits were added in 1986 while its weirdest morning innovation, the McGriddle, rolled out in 2003.

There, of course, have been tweaks, special items, and failures (like the much-lamented Breakfast bagels) but McDonald's has mostly kept its breakfast menu simple. While the afternoon has featured lots of burger limited-time offers with new toppings and other small (but complicated for the kitchen) changes, that has rarely happened in the morning hours.

Now, however, Wendy's has made another key breakfast move and McDonald's may have to get aggressive to answer it.

Wendy's French Toast Sticks Lead JS

Wendy's Doubles Down on Breakfast  

Wendy's launched its innovative breakfast menu right as the pandemic hit. That created some challenges for the chain as it was rolling out a to-go-based breakfast menu at a time when people weren't (or literally couldn't) go anywhere.

Since that unfortunate timing, however, the chain has been making inroads into the morning hours by pushing that it uses fresh-cracked eggs and marketing its unique menu items like the Breakfast Baconator and French Toast Sticks (which appear to be a sliced piece of french toast).

The chain has steadily gained a breakfast foothold, which CEO Todd Penegor spoke about during the chain's second-quarter earnings call.

"Our U.S. breakfast business outperformed the competition with another quarter of morning meal traffic share growth in the QSR burger category," he said.

"We continue to expect year-over-year U.S. breakfast sales growth of approximately 10% in 2022 and to reach average weekly sales of $3,000 by year-end," he added. "This growth will be supported by the launch of our new French Toast Sticks this month, which we expect to drive incremental visits and add-ons."

In addition, Wendy's rolled out its breakfast menu in Canada in May and that may explain McDonald's latest move.

McDonald's Adds Two Spicy Breakfast Options

While McDonald's adding an item to one of its global menus often has no bearing on its U.S. plans, a change in Canada can sometimes foretell what's coming in its home market. Now, the fast-food giant has added to new spicy takes on the classic McMuffin to its breakfast menu in Canada, Brand Eating reported.

"McDonald's Canada's Bacon, Egg & Jalapeno Cheddar McMuffin offers a fresh-cracked egg, hickory-smoked bacon, creamy jalapeno sauce, and a slice of jalapeno-laced marble cheddar cheese on a toasted English muffin. An Egg & Jalapeno Cheddar McMuffin is also available," the website reported.

That's not the only spicy McMuffin being offered (and it comes with a possible twist that Americans would specifically like).

"The Spicy Habanero Bacon 'N Egg McMuffin features a fresh-cracked egg, spicy habanero sauce, hickory-smoked bacon, and a slice of processed cheddar cheese on a toasted English muffin. There's also a version with a crispy-fried chicken patty instead of bacon and eggs (a Chicken McMuffin is a standard breakfast item in Canada)," the site shared.

These are limited-time offers that should bring the chain's Canadian locations some attention or win back lapsed customers who gave Wendy's a chance.