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Fast food breakfast wars heat up with lunchtime McMuffins and Taco Bell’s waffle taco

The sign for McDonald's restaurant is seen October 7, 2010 in Hudson, Wisconsin.
The sign for McDonald's restaurant is seen October 7, 2010 in Hudson, Wisconsin.

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Breakfast on the go is big business for the fast food chains that dominate the early morning drive-thrus. The Golden Arches might be most people's first stop for an early morning sausage biscuit but they're going to be facing new competition from an unlikely source.

Taco Bell is encroaching on McDonald's turf with the introduction of its new national breakfast menu starting on March 27.  The menu is designed to appeal to its customer base of young men with items such as a waffle taco, the A.M. Crunchwrap and breakfast burritos.

The company's president Brian Niccol said in an interview that he thought the taco chain could go up against the Egg McMuffin and "turn the breakfast conversation into a two-horse race.”

The kicker is that you'll be able to get your Taco Bell munchies all the way until 11am - a half hour longer than you can get breakfast at McDonald's. But now, possibly from the incoming threat of competition, McDonald's is looking into extending their breakfast hours until 11am.

McDonald's USA president Jeff Stratton noted recently that cutting off breakfast on the weekends at 10:30 a.m. "doesn't go very well" with the millennial generation. Biscuits, Hotcakes and other items bring in roughly 20 percent of the company's U.S. Sales.

Will McDonald's sales suffer once Taco Bell is on the scene? Will the new menu become a game changer in the fast food breakfast business? And, importantly, how long will it be before you can get an Egg McMuffin for lunch?


Sam Oches, editor of the fast food industry publication QSR magazine.