Business,  Food

McDonald’s, Why is All-Day Breakfast Dead?

One of the first losses of the pandemic was McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast initiative. After being fully launched in 2015, the menu was cut just 3 years after debut. And while McDonald’s breakfast menu is still around, it isn’t all-day anymore despite the world’s relative return for normality. Sure, you could chalk that up to Ronald trying to gauge franchisee confidence and rework distribution, the things that delayed the initial launch of the program; however, I suspect all-day breakfast will never return to McDonald’s, and it’s all because of Starbucks.

The Birth and Death of All-Day Breakfast

First, if you’re not familiar with the history behind McDonald’s breakfast (because let’s face it, you have better things to do than me), let me give you a brief history lesson. McDonald’s began development on the Egg McMuffin in 1971 and first released it in 1972. By 1977, the full breakfast line-up was established nationally, consisting of the Egg McMuffin, the hotcakes, hash browns, sausage, toasted English muffin, and scrambled eggs. They continue to add items over the next decades like biscuits, breakfast burritos, and the fabled McGriddle.

However, their biggest change to breakfast started in 2013, when McDonald’s began development on all-day breakfast. Yes, it took 2 years for all-day breakfast to launch nationally. This is due to managing that new supply chain, as well as gaining franchisee confidence that the program would be profitable. They opened a test market in San Diego in the spring of 2015, and launched it nationally in October of the same year. The financial quarter that followed (Q4 2015) saw a sales increase of 5.7% for McDonald’s, which the CEO at the time attributed in part to all-day breakfast. The first quarter of 2016 saw another 6.2% rise. Also in Q1 2016, McDonald’s stepped up the marketing budget for all-day breakfast. After the initial buzz, the sales maintained as McDonald’s stock price continued to climb. All-day breakfast was a success.

And I think you know where this ends. In March of 2020, McDonald’s shut down all day breakfast. They cite the reason being to streamline kitchen operations, but COVID wasn’t helping it either. It was unfortunate, but inevitable. But now that the world is relatively stable again, McDonald’s all-day breakfast hasn’t returned. But during this time, McDonald’s did something else, they created a new chain.


On December 7, 2023, McDonald’s launched its new restaurant, CosMc’s in Chicago. The menu icenters around customizable drinks, breakfast food, and snacks. Yep, it’s McDonald’s Starbucks competitor. It features all of the McDonald’s breakfast items, plus some new options like an Avocado Tomatillo sandwich. McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski says the “fast drink” sector is a “$100 billion category growing faster than the rest of the [sector] and with superior margins.” They want CosMc’s to succeed and be a part of that 100 billion dollars. It is for that reason that McDonald’s will never return all-day breakfast to McDonald’s locations. It will go to CosMc’s.

And we know that CosMc’s will usurp all-day breakfast because of the promotional video for CosMc’s. It directly says that “Sometimes at 3 PM, you need a boost.” There it is. They want you there at 3 PM. Not bringing back all-day breakfast makes existing locations’ workflow easier and faster, and it drives business to their new chain that’s capitalizing on an extremely valuable market. They want you to hop into CosMc’s, get a caffeinated tea or coffee, and potentially grab a McMuffin while you’re there.

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