Breakfast Won’t Be Fast Food’s Most Important Meal

From by Nevin Barich
Breakfast Won’t Be Fast Food’s Most Important Meal

Photo by Mike Mozart / Flickr

Photo by Mike Mozart / Flickr

Even food and beverage analysts have a right to change their minds.

A few months ago in my year-end blog, I cited expansion of all-day breakfast menus as one of the major fast food trends to watch for in 2016, given all the attention McDonald’s received for doing so in October. Despite McDonald’s recently reporting its best U.S. sales performance in four years and crediting all-day breakfast as a primary reason, however, I no longer think that its competitors will attempt the same thing.

There are two main reasons why. First, logistics. Several McDonald’s franchisees have said that integrating the all-day breakfast menu has been nothing short of a nightmare, with complaints including a slowdown in menu service, having to add extra labor, and needing to invest in new equipment. A recent Bloomberg article stated that some franchisees are investing up to $5,000 for new equipment to keep up with the demands of serving eggs all day long.

It would stand to reason that the problems McDonald’s has faced in adding all-day breakfast would also be faced by any other fast-food chain looking to do the same thing. It simply may not be worth it for another chain to go through such growing pains.

And the second reason, lack of brand recognition.

If I say the words “Egg McMuffin,” you immediately know that I’m referring to McDonald’s, because over the years the company has successfully branded that sandwich. That branding has helped the Golden Arches build a successful breakfast business that, in turn, allowed it to launch an all-day breakfast menu not with new morning items, but with its most popular ones.

Now, name me a Carl’s Jr. breakfast sandwich that is symbolic with that chain. Take your time. No rush. I got all day.

Still thinking?


The other chains don’t have the brand recognition at breakfast to be as successful as McDonald’s. Their brand recognition is tied to lunch and dinner items, such as the Whopper at Burger King and the Doritos Locos Taco at Taco Bell. When it comes to breakfast, those strong associations simply aren’t there.

So I’ve changed my mind. Don’t expect all-day breakfast menus to spread across the fast-food realm. Expect the other chains to focus elsewhere, like value menus, to counter McDonald’s move.

"Breakfast Won’t Be Fast Food’s Most Important Meal" originally published on The Menuism Dining Blog.

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