Wendy's Adds Breakfast, and McDonald's Takes a Shot

'National Egg McMuffin' day coincides with rival chain's rollout
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2020 10:25 AM CST
Wendy's Enters the Breakfast Wars
A Wendy's restaurant in Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

For those who like their breakfast fast-food-style, these next few weeks should be good times. Wendy's rolled out a breakfast menu nationally on Monday, and rival chains are expected to cut costs and offer special deals as a way to keep regulars on board. Coverage:

  • Big money: Wendy's has nine sandwiches on its breakfast menu, including a new version of its popular Baconator, reports CNN. Most stores will offer the menu from 6:30am to 10:30am. Expect to hear all about it, because the company plans to spend up to $80 million this year on advertising, reports CNBC.
  • The reason: Breakfast was responsible for 16% of traffic in fast-food establishments last year, according to industry stats. What's more, breakfast keeps fast-food customers coming back, more so than any other meal. Morning visits are up 8% over the last five years, while numbers for the industry overall are flat, reports the Chicago Tribune. "We have to win at breakfast," McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski told analysts in February.

  • The welcome: As Wendy's had its big rollout Monday, McDonald's countered by proclaiming National Egg McMuffin Day (as part of the sandwich's upcoming 50th anniversary) and handing out freebies. Other chains are expected to lower prices for the near future, but "if things turn into a price war, McDonald's is able to compete on price better than anybody," says industry analyst David Henkes of Technomic, per CNBC.
  • CEO's risk: Wendy's CEO Todd Penegor has a lot riding on this, per an analysis at Yahoo Finance. "If Penegor pulls this breakfast launch off (which coincides with a long-awaited aggressive expansion overseas) and gains ground, he will go down as the best CEO of Wendy's not named Dave Thomas," writes Brian Sozzi. If it flops, shareholders might be looking for heads to roll. The chain hopes breakfast can soon account for 10% of US sales.
  • Sound familiar? Yes, Wendy's tried breakfast back in the 1980s, with items including omelets and French toast, notes USA Today. The problem was that the food wasn't exactly "fast," and the menu went away.
(More Wendy's stories.)

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