McDonald’s Menu Tests a Bold New Item
The fast-food giant wants to improve one of its weakest offerings.
McDonald's sells the familiar.
It doesn't have the best hamburger or a superior chicken nugget. Its fries may be the exception: While some people may have their favorites elsewhere, McDonald's fries are universally loved.
Aside from that, however, customers -- at least the adults -- go to the Golden Arches because they know what they're going to get.
McDonald's (MCD) - Get Free Report shakes may taste of chemicals, the Filet O' Fish is an unknown species of sea creature, and Chicken McNuggets are sometimes disturbingly gray. But people love them because they are as they always were.
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The formula works really well when McDonald's gently tweaks its menu. The company may call a new burger the Rodeo Roundup Burger (or some such nonsense), but it's really just a Double Cheeseburger with BBQ sauce. That's a taste people know and welcome.
It's when McDonald's goes into a new area that it encounters problems. Customers may be forgiving when the chain tries to sell McLobster or McRib, since they don't expect those offerings to equal a Maine-lobster roll or a rack of Kansas City ribs.
But when the chain has tried to make inroads into coffee, it has stumbled because people have expectations. A basic cup is one thing -- for many folks that's just ingesting caffeine -- but when you get to espresso drinks and coffeehouse specialties, Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Free Report and Dunkin' set the standard.
And it's an area in which McDonald's has come up short. Its McCafe espresso drinks have never made the chain a true alternative to the coffee chains.
Now, McDonald's is attempting a quite fix, and if it works, the chain may have a chance at -- maybe not taking down SBUX and Dunkin' but at keeping more of the core McDonald's customers' coffee business.
McDonald's Tests Cold Brew
Not having cold brew on the menu seems like a glaring omission, given that some convenience stores (Wawa and 7-Eleven among them) have long offered it. Cold brew isn't some fancy Starbucks drink. It's a table-stakes product that any true coffee chain should offer..
Companies can also charge more for cold brew than they can for a regular cup of coffee. It is somewhat more labor-intensive, but the cost is essentially the same.
Now, McDonald's is testing cold brew at select Southern California locations. During the test, the chain will offer a basic cold brew and a marble flavor, Brand Eating reported.,
"McDonald's regular cold brew is just plain black cold brew coffee but can be customized with various flavors (French vanilla, caramel, chocolate, and hazelnut) as well as with cream and sugar," according to the website.
Marble cold brew is swirled with light cream and a creamy syrup, which is mostly sweetened condensed milk, the site reported.
The fast-food giant ran a similar test back in 2018, but cold brew never made it to the chain's menu nationwide.
Starbucks, which sells about 70% cold beverages, has made cold brew a core part of its menu, often topping it with cold foam. Dunkin' has broadly followed Starbucks's lead and more or less offers the same lineup of cold brew drinks (albeit with slightly different names).
The marble cold brew costs $1 more than a same-sized McDonald's iced coffee while the black cold brew is 60 cents more. Adding flavored syrup costs extra.
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