Most of us are used to pancakes, waffles, eggs, and bacon for breakfast, but McDonald’s takes breakfast to a whole new level. Beyond their Egg McMuffins and Hash Browns, McDonald’s also serves chicken McMuffins with breaded chicken. If that sounds a little out of left field, you’ll be even more surprised with our top 10 untold truths of McDonald’s breakfast.
10. The McChicken sandwiches are “healthier” than the sausage versions
At the start of the year, McDonald’s introduced the Chicken McGriddle and McChicken Biscuit—two breakfast sandwiches with a crispy McChicken patty. The McChicken Biscuit uses a buttery biscuit in place of typical burger buns or an English muffin, whereas the Chicken McGriddle places the patty in between two pancakes. If chicken in the morning wasn’t weird enough for you, how about chicken between pancakes?! Although consuming poultry in the hours of the A.M. may seem weird for some, it’s actually not too out of the ordinary for other places around the world. The sandwiches are a little high in sodium and the McChicken Biscuit is particularly high in saturated fat, but they are actually a better option than their sausage counterparts. Although dieticians probably wouldn’t divulge that there’s anything healthy in these breakfast sandwiches, the chicken itself isn’t terrible for you even though it is fried. Overall, even though the chicken breakfast menu items are high in calories, fat, and sodium, they are a better option than some of the other breakfast menu items. If these aren’t available at your location, McDonald’s also released the Chicken McMuffin: a chicken patty with mayo and a slice of American cheese sandwiched between buttered English muffins. Chicken for breakfast – who would’ve thought?
9. McDonald’s breakfast was only added in the 70s
While McDonald’s was founded in 1940, breakfast only became an option in the early 1970s. One of the franchise owners, Herb Peterson, wanted to be able to open his restaurants in the morning but assumed no one would come around that early for a burger and fries. So, he decided to invent a breakfast that would still fall under the umbrella of “fast food” and created the Egg McMuffin. It was modeled off of eggs Benedict, Peterson’s favorite breakfast. He wanted to create something similar in the form of a sandwich since hollandaise sauce is quite messy. By substituting the sauce for cheese and butter, the Egg McMuffin was born: a toasted English muffin with egg, bacon, and melted cheese. It took three whole years for the chain to officially add the sandwich to their menu because it was so different from what the restaurant was known for. By 1973 it had become a staple on the menu, and by 1976, McDonald’s had introduced a full breakfast menu. Peterson’s intentions were well-received because, by 1981, breakfast accounted for a surprising 18% of McDonald’s total revenue. We have Herb Peterson to thank for the expanded chain’s breakfast menu; it was the success of his sandwich that kickstarted the whole thing!
8. McDonald’s all-day breakfast
All-day breakfast was a huge customer demand before it finally launched in 2015, and for good reason. Breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, but it’s also arguably the tastiest! You can now order breakfast at McDonald’s no matter the time of day or night. (Hot cakes for supper, here we come!) In fact, one study revealed that McDonald’s breakfast was most frequently purchased around lunchtime. Most of these customers also ordered lunch menu items with their breakfast. It seems this way, the clientele was happy and McDonald’s also saw profits rise. When it debuted, McDonald’s breakfast was increasingly popular in the U.S. By 1987, a quarter of all breakfasts that were consumed outside of people’s own homes were from the restaurant. McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches in particular were made to be eaten one-handed, with the other hand on the wheel. So it’s no wonder the chain’s breakfast is so popular, especially in today’s busy, fast-paced environment. People can pull up to the drive-through, grab a quick coffee and Egg McMuffin, and feel full before they get to work without even having to get out of their car.
7. No burgers in the morning
For those who work night shifts, and are wanting a McDonald’s supper while the rest of the world is just waking up, this entry is for you. As of now, you can only get non-breakfast McDonald’s menu items after 10:30 A.M. Part of the reason for this is that the chain claims customer demand isn’t large enough, despite the thousands of tweets asking for early-morning Big Macs. According to a former McDonald’s employee, the request for burgers in the morning stretches as far back as the 70’s, when the Egg McMuffin was first created. As the breakfast menu expanded, employees had to cook both menu items on the same equipment but at different temperatures. (Eggs don’t cook at the same temperature as burger patties, for example.) In 2012, when McDonald’s was asked about the absence of morning burgers, the restaurant confirmed there simply isn’t enough grill space. However, in the same response, the food chain gave this same reasoning for why they didn’t offer all-day breakfast at the time. McDonald’s now does offer all-day breakfast which they launched due to strong consumer demand. So, it might be worth getting out those metaphorical pitchforks (and real forks, of course) and showing McDonald’s some enthusiasm for early-morning burgers and fries.
6. The hotcakes are alarmingly unhealthy
Who doesn’t love pancakes—sorry, hotcakes—for breakfast? Next time you’re craving them, you might be better off sticking with a good ol’ fashioned homemade recipe… or maybe just a box mix. If you’re insistent on McDonald’s hotcakes hitting the spot, however, then here’s the disturbing nutritional information. A single order of hotcakes with butter and syrup clocks in at an extravagant 600 calories. Just as a refresher, the average male between the ages of 19 and 30 needs about 2,400 calories a day, depending on their lifestyle. And that’s not all; a standalone order has you looking at about 16 grams of fat, 45 grams of sugar, and 102 grams of carbs. If you happen to start off your day with the caloric horror show that is McDonald’s “Big Breakfast” (scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, biscuits, hash browns, and syrup) with hotcakes, you’re looking at 1340 calories. Yikes! Even so, the greatest disappointment of this meal has to be the maple syrup—or lack thereof. The syrup isn’t maple at all! It’s actually just flavored corn syrup, which probably isn’t surprising to the majority of people but it really makes a difference when it comes to flapjacks. Despite this downfall, McDonald’s prides themselves on their inclusion of real butter with their hotcakes, so at least we can look forward to that!
5. Fresh eggs are only in the Egg McMuffin
Each item on McDonald’s breakfast menu that comprises eggs are made a little differently. Generally, eggs that meet requirements are sent directly to McDonald’s locations, while those that don’t are mixed with other ingredients like modified starch, salt, and citric acid. These eggs will be made into what is called the “folded egg” that is used in biscuit, bagel, and McGriddle sandwiches. The “folded egg” is cooked at a separate location, then frozen, and shipped to various McDonald’s establishments. For their breakfast burritos, the scrambled egg and sausage, the mix is also cooked ahead of time by food suppliers. Meat, vegetables, spices, sugar, and additives such as dextrose and xanthan gum are then combined with the egg mixture, and subsequently frozen so they can be reheated at McDonald’s individual restaurants. Alternatively, their “Big Breakfast” scrambled eggs are packed in liquid form with an added preservative and cooked on-site for the first time with butter. Egg McMuffins, on the other hand, are made with freshly cracked eggs. The eggs are cracked into a metal egg ring in order to keep the right shape for the sandwich. These are called “round eggs” and you can order them on any breakfast sandwich to ensure you’re getting fresh eggs, as opposed to the precooked or prepackaged liquid egg (you’re welcome). One thing to note is that if you order egg whites, those will also come in liquid form, but they don’t contain any added ingredients.
4. McDonald’s aiming to use only cage-free eggs
Speaking of eggs, McDonald’s is making significant advancements for the well-being of their birds. In an effort to support farmers and the well-being of livestock, McDonald’s is making progress towards using only cage-free eggs in restaurants in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, and Australia. In 2015, less than one percent of the U.S.’s supply chain of eggs was cage-free. Now, they make up 33 percent, which rounds out to 726 million eggs. By 2025, the fast-food chain hopes to source 100 percent of its eggs cage-free which will equal 2.2 billion eggs. According to one veterinarian, cage-free barns means easier observation of and care for the birds. Chickens are housed in an open environment where they are free to engage in natural behaviours: perching, dustbathing, jumping and flying. The farms provide special training and education for the staff and are adopting new technology, which means an increased dedication to the care of the birds. Currently, 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. are receiving these ethically sourced eggs. Eggs are a pretty big staple as far a breakfast goes, and cage-free means you can order without worrying about the possible mistreatment of their chickens.
3. McDonald’s Canada is working hard to go green
Recently, McDonald’s has acknowledged its environmental impact on air, land, and water, particularly in its supply chain. The chain has since been working towards its goal to make its packaging and production more sustainable. According to the restaurant, wood fiber is used in sandwich wraps, fry boxes, takeout bags, and tray liners—the majority of consumer packaging. In 2020, they are aiming to source all of their fiber-based packaging from recycled material or forests where no deforestation occurs. The food chain is also swapping out their cups for ones that use less plastic. By working with packaging supplier HAVI Global Solutions to transition to Clarified Polypropylene instead of polyester, the McCafé beverage cups will use 20% less material than they previously did. McDonald’s is also focusing on reducing pesticides on potatoes, as well as fertilizer and water on crops. The most notable change, and the one many are most excited about, is their commitment to advance a more sustainable beef production. They claim that they are striving to improve environmental practices when it comes to the production of beef, in turn bettering the livelihoods of farmers and positively contributing to animal health and welfare. In addition to more responsibly grown coffee, McDonald’s is also ensuring its fisheries are sustainable. They are also unveiling two “Green Concept Restaurants” in London, Ontario and Vancouver, BC, which will serve as testing locations for new economically friendlier initiatives. They will try out packaging such as repulpable cups for cold drinks (which will use an aqueous coating that is suitable for recycling), new fiber lids, wooden cutlery, wooden stir sticks, and paper straws. McDonald’s has also implemented some new measures to reduce their carbon footprint globally. They introduced 20 percent smaller napkins produced with recycled fiber, swapped the McWrap carton for a wrapper, removed the foam from the breakfast platter and gravy bowl, and discarded the outer layer of paper around their small coffee cup. These additions will eliminate over 1,500 tons of packaging waste from the McDonald’s Canada system so you can worry a little less about contributing to environmental pollution when you enjoy McDonald’s breakfast!
2. McDonald’s Canada coffee beans are ethically sourced
Who doesn’t love the fresh, hot brew of coffee in the early mornings? McDonald’s Canada recently partnered with the Rainforest Alliance in order to ensure their McCafé is made and served with 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee beans. If you visit a McDonald’s location in Canada, look forward to the reassurance that your coffee is made with ethically sourced arabica beans. They are grown and harvested according to rigorous standards implemented to protect forests, wildlife, and support other coffee farmers and harvesters around the world. The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization that aims to ensure that farmers maintain responsible social, business and environmental agricultural practices. They work towards preserving and protecting the environment and its wildlife as well as safeguarding the sustainability of their farms. These farming practices improve the lives of farmers as well. This means they are paid a fair wage, have access to healthcare, clean water and sanitation, and their children can stay in school longer. McCafé’s menu offers a large range of coffee beverages to choose from including: lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, espresso, mochas, and, of course, its Premium Roast Brewed Coffee which you can get hot or iced. If you still aren’t convinced, McCafé has a rewards program where you can buy seven hot beverages and the eighth will be free! If you already like McDonald’s coffee, you’ll love McDonald’s free and ethically sourced coffee.
1. Their breakfast options around the world are pretty different
If you’re a frequent traveller, you may have noticed the different international options at the restaurant that you can’t get in North America. For example, in the Netherlands, they serve stroopwafels, which are pancakes with Nutella and syrup. (Hey, McDonald’s USA, can we have that too please?) Australia offers an English Brekkie Wrap, which is essentially a tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, bacon, and BBQ sauce. New Zealand’s Georgie Pie Bacon ‘N’ Egg comprises bacon and scrambled eggs baked into a pie crust. A favorite in Brazil is called the Queijo Quente Do Chef, which loosely translates to “Hot Chef Cheese”, with that cheese part being pretty crucial. The meal consists of a hamburger bun stuffed with cream cheese, melted Swiss cheese, tomato and crushed oregano. Saudia Arabia offers Halloumi Muffins, with Halloumi being a type of cheese that’s common in Middle Eastern dishes. These muffins are halal and vegetarian—they are basically the Saudia Arabian version of North America’s Egg McMuffin with halloumi, lettuce, tomato, and olive paste. In India, they also have a vegetarian breakfast option with an English muffin containing a veggie patty made of spinach and corn, tomato, onions, and a kick of mint mayonnaise. In Hong Kong, you can actually get a bowl of twisty pasta for breakfast. It comes in either chicken broth or tonkatsu broth and is topped with egg or sausage or both. Some honorable mentions include Egypt’s McFalafel, Thailand’s pork porridge, and Malaysia’s chicken porridge. When it comes to breakfast, McDonald’s has the tastes of the world covered, no matter where you are.