McPizza Is Back! McDonald’s Menu Tries a New Take On a Classic.
The fast-food giant has tried many variations of the much-loved menu item, but its latest effort might be different enough to become a hit.
When you think about the McPizza, you tend to group the product with a long line of major failures of overreach for McDonald's.
It goes on a list next to McSpaghetti, Fish McBites, and Mighty Wings as concepts that the chain tried to make work -- and that proved to be food nobody wanted to order from the chain (MCD) - Get Free Report.
The McPizza lineage traces back to the 1980s, when it started as a whole pie that was served at your table on a pizza rack. The product became a personal-sized pizza in 1991 and lingered on the menu at hundreds of the chain's U.S. stores until nearly 2000, but it never really caught on.
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On the other hand, McDonald's fans seemed to like the pizza -- or at least the chain's offering fits the "any pizza is better than no pizza" mantra that seems to have fueled Domino's (DPZ) - Get Free Report business for decades.
It met its demise, however, for the same reason a lot of the chain's products have been eliminated: It was a pain to make, taking about 15 minutes to bake.
Now, the McPizza exists mostly as a memory but is still on the menu at one McDonald's location, in Orlando, Fla.
That could soon change, however, as the chain has launched a modern take on the McPizza -- call it a cross between a pierogi, a pizza roll, a Hot Pocket, and a calzone -- in Italy.
McDonald's Introduced the Pizza Pocket
While it seems odd that McDonald's would introduce its new take on pizza in Italy -- a country that knows its way around a pie -- it makes sense.
The chain, like many American brands in Italy, exists in sort of an alternative food universe, where its standing as American makes it a fun excursion.
Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Free Report, for example, has done very well in Italy, even as Italian coffee shops inspired the formation of the chain in the first place. Italians eating in a McDonald's don't expect classic pizzas; rather, they're likely to want an Americanized take on one their classic menu items, and the chain has certainly delivered on that.
Rather than offering a classic round pizza, McDonald's has released something that looks more like one of its pies. The Panzerotti, or Pizza Pockets, look a lot like a larger version of a Totino's pizza roll, shaped a bit more like a calzone.
"McDonald's has the most glorious looking pizza pockets - in Italy!" wrote the popular Snackolator Instagram channel, which first spotted the new pizza product.
"You wouldn't think McDonald's would drop Panzerotti in Italy, but they did and apparently they are actually really good. They have a mix of pizza sauce and cheese inside of a fried shell."
McDonald's Could Bring Pizza Pockets to the U.S.
New-product innovation has not been a major focus for McDonald's over the past few years. Instead, the chain has concentrated on operations and being as efficient as possible while it grows its digital and delivery business.
The chain has focused on keeping its menu simple, and the Panzerotti may fit that model. Since the pockets are fried, MCD may be able to make them with existing equipment and without interrupting other operations.
That would give the company a bold new product that's different from anything offered by Wendy's (WEN) - Get Free Report or Restaurant Brands International's (QSR) - Get Free Report Burger King.
Pizza Pockets are essentially a fast-food version of pizza that come without the expectations that bringing back the classic McPizza would carry. It's a smart way for the chain to back-door into a new category with a product that could be the next fast-food breakout success.
Of course, for now you have to go to Italy if you want to try the Panzerotti. But this item more than most McDonald's overseas-only offers seems tailor-made for a U.S. audience.
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