McDonald's needs something attention grabbing, innovative and appealing, as is clear from the -2.8% drop in U.S. same-store sales for August reported this week. That need for something fresh and different may be why BurgerBusiness.com has learned that McDonald's Corp. in July filed a federal trademark registration (application #86345988) for the term "McBrunch."
A McDonald's spokesperson confirmed the application but cautioned, "We routinely file intent to use trademark applications as a regular course of business. We can't share details at this time as to how the trademarks may or may not be used."
It's possible that McDonald's will just keep the trademark in its back pocket for now. It has done so before. In fact, the company applied for a trademark on "McBrunch" in 2001 but abandoned that application. But the brunch idea seems to be back under consideration more seriously this time, in part because of the continuing poor sales performance. McDonald's has been showing increased interest in upscale morning fare: Earlier this year it tested breakfast pastries in San Diego and mini bundt cakes in Boca Raton, Fla., and Nevada.
Four years ago, Burger King briefly tested a brunch menu in Massachusetts and Florida. The menu included nonalcoholic mimosas, a BK Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich and its signature Whopper burger. The brunch idea didn't work, but Burger King in May launched a "Burgers at Breakfast" program with Whoppers offered in the morning.
So how might McBrunch work at McDonald's were it to be launched? One path would be the route it has chosen in Germany, where breakfast hours are extended beyond 10:30 a.m. on weekends and major holidays. Breakfast already has been extended "backwards" through the "McDonald's After Midnight" hybrid breakfast/dinner menu from midnight to 4 a.m. Brunch could be a weekend-only event with a special menu.
Chains are working hard to develop distinctive breakfast menu items, as evidenced by Taco Bell's new Biscuit Taco and IHOP's new "Waffullicious Waffles" with ingredients such as bacon and cheese baked in. To compete with breakfast options such as that, McBrunch would need something more than the current McMuffins and McGriddles. McDonald's is leery of expanding the menu with new items, but here are 10 breakfast foods already on its menus around the world that it should consider for a McBrunch menu in the U.S.:
Massive McMuffin (on McDonald's breakfast menu in New Zealand; above): Two sausage patties, bacon, a freshly cracked egg, a slice of cheese and ketchup on a hot toasted English Muffin. Now this says brunch.
Frukostmackan (Sweden; above): Think outside the breakfast sandwich box. Sweden does. This morning sandwich has smoked ham, Wästgöta Abbey cheese, crispy lettuce, butter and sun-ripened tomato on freshly baked bread.
McMuffin Fresh Chicken (Germany; above): Dress up the McMuffin for brunch like the Germans do. Crispy breaded chicken, spicy cheese, crisp lettuce and tomatoes are topped off with a mild sauce on a toasted muffin.
FIT Sandwich (Serbia; above): For the health-conscious brunch eater. Ham, cheese, Bun, deluxe sauce, chopped w ham, cheese, arugula, tomato.
BLT Bagel (Canada; above): You have the Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel already and it rocks. But brunch needs its own bagel creation. This couldn't be simpler: Hickory-smoked bacon, sliced tomato and crisp lettuce, topped with creamy mayonnaise-style sauce served on a freshly baked regular or multigrain bagel.
Tsukimi Burger (Japan; above): Brunch requires a breakfast burger so how about this one from Japan? Beef, smoky bacon, creamy tomato sauce and an egg on a sesame-seed bun. Burger King has introduced a Breakfast Whopper in New Zealand and it's only a matter of time before that's on the U.S. menu. McDonald's should move fast.
Breakfast Roll (Ireland; above): A breakfast sandwich with a heartier profile. Sausage, Irish bacon and an Irish egg in a crispy roll served with ketchup or brown sauce.
McMorning (Croatia; above): Think of it as a morning McRib. Pork patties, rösti (potato fritters with onions), two slices of bacon, a slice of melted Cheddar, tomato, lettuce and a special sauce. Pork and bacon together? Brunch, baby.
Veg Pizza McPuff (India; above): Something for the vegetarians and the global-cuisine fans. Add a crisp brown crust with "a generous helping of rich tomato sauce mixed with carrots, bell peppers, beans, onions, peas and gooey mozzarella." Not the traditional American breakfast food, maybe, but who doesn't like leftover pizza on a weekend morning?
Sausage N' Egg Twisty Pasta (Hong Kong; above): OK, this one might be a bit of a stretch. Twisty pasta, fresh eggs and sizzling sausage together with hot chicken or tonkotsu (pork) broth and greens. But let's see Taco Bell match this.
McDonald's could pick just two of these items -- they're all better ideas than biscuit tacos -- and have the beginnings of a delightful McBrunch program.