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Who’s got the meats and who’s got the sweets? Fast food chains roll out new menu items.

Pumpkin this, pumpkin that -- lots of seasonal treats to boot

Would you believe there’s a new “golden age” of fast food? Among the Top 10 chains, more than 1,000 units have popped up in the last year or so, all reflecting the double-digit sales consumers are ringing up.

Trying to please all those fast food lovers showing up in the drive-thru lanes, chains are adding everything shy of glazed donut salads and pork rind sundaes to their menus to make consumers lick their chops in anticipation.

Here’s a quick review of what’s in store th...

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    McDonald’s to introduce three new chicken sandwiches

    Chicken continues to replace burgers as consumers’ favorite fast-food choice

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants have generally streamlined their menus to increase efficiency during challenging times. McDonald’s is bucking that trend to start 2021 by adding three new chicken sandwiches to its lineup.

    Since Popeye’s created a social media sensation in 2019 with its chicken sandwich, chicken increasingly appears to be what draws customers to fast-food restaurants. Though the pandemic is still raging, McDonald’s appears to be preparing for its end while offering up more “comfort food” to help customers get through it.

    Linda VanGosen, McDonald’s vice president of menu innovation, said the new menu items are a response to customer feedback.

    “We’re confident all chicken fans – from traditionalists to spice enthusiasts – will discover a new menu favorite they’ll come back for time and time again,” she said.

    While it’s basically one chicken sandwich, McDonald’s says it will be available in three versions at participating locations starting Feb. 24. The three sandwiches are:

    • Crispy chicken sandwich

    • Spicy chicken sandwich, with spicy pepper sauce

    • Deluxe chicken sandwich, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo

    Better chicken sandwich part of the strategy

    McDonald’s has actually regained some lost ground during the pandemic, thanks to its existing drive-thru operation and quick pivot to delivery. In 2019, the company told shareholders that it needed a better chicken sandwich to win back customers.

    Indeed, the entire industry appears to be in hot pursuit of chicken leader Chick-Fil-A and 2019’s sensation Popeye’s. In October, Wendy’s got a head start on McDonald’s with the rollout of its Classic Chicken Sandwich, with what it said was an improved chicken fillet.

    In fact, Wendy’s announced that chicken upgrade would go into its complete line of chicken menu items. Meanwhile, KFC is said to be test marketing a new, premium chicken sandwich.

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants have generally streamlined their menus to increase efficiency during challenging times. McDonald’s is buck...
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    McDonald’s to roll out 10 days of free food for the holidays

    Items include movie character-inspired McDoubles, hot cakes, and Egg McMuffins

    McDonald’s is giving away food for the holidays. Every day from Monday, December 14, through December 24, the fast food icon is offering daily deals on menu items that feature favorite holiday characters from TV and film.

    “After a year like 2020, I think we could all use some extra cheer this season,” said McDonald’s U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley. 

    Before you schedule a family trip to McDonald’s in hopes of taking advantage of the free feeding frenzy, you should know that each daily-promoted menu item requires a $1 minimum purchase -- and the purchases have to be made through the “deals” section of the McDonald’s app.

    However, in a nod to Santa, a 2-pack/3-pack of chocolate chip cookies will be available completely free on Christmas Eve, no minimum purchase required.

    The daily deals

    As you’ll see, McDonald’s daily deals all have some sort of a connection to a character in a classic holiday movie or TV episode. Here’s the list: 

    Dec. 14: The Griswolds, free Double Cheeseburger. Note: The company did not list any exceptions for Cousin Eddie or his “tenement on wheels,” nor did they say if Clark Griswold might be dropping by with free eggnog refills.

    Dec. 15: The Abominable Snowmonster, free Big Mac

    Dec. 16: Grinch, free Egg McMuffin

    Dec. 17: John McClane, free McDouble. This tie-in is a bit of a stretch, but John McClane was the role Bruce Willis played in ‘Die Hard,’ which opened up with Willis traveling to Los Angeles to attend a Christmas Eve party.

    Dec. 18: Rudolph, free medium Fry

    Dec. 19: Gizmo, free 6-piece McNuggets. By the way, Gizmo is that furry little pet Billy’s dad gave him for Christmas in the ‘Gremlins’ movie.

    Dec. 20: Buddy the Elf, free Hotcakes

    Dec. 21: Scrooge, free any-size Hot or Iced Coffee

    Dec. 22: Frosty the Snowman, free any size McFlurry

    Dec. 23: On this day, McDonald’s is paying homage to ‘Seinfeld’s’ Frank Costanza and his idea for creating a “festivus for the rest-of-us” when he couldn’t get the doll George wanted for Christmas. As the daily freebie, customers can get a bakery item -- Apple Fritter, Cinnamon Roll, or Blueberry Muffin -- of their choice.

    Dec. 24: Santa, free 2-pack or 3-pack Chocolate Chip Cookies (No minimum purchase required)

    McDonald’s is giving away food for the holidays. Every day from Monday, December 14, through December 24, the fast food icon is offering daily deals on men...
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    McDonald’s Happy Meals could cost more in 2021

    The fast food chain is eliminating a subsidy that helped keep the cost of the menu item down

    The price of McDonald’s Happy Meals could rise in 2021 as a result of the end of a deal between the fast food giant and its franchisees. Previously, the deal subsidized the price of the toys that come with Happy Meals. 

    About 95 percent of U.S. McDonald’s locations are owned and operated by independent franchisees, which are in charge of setting prices for menu items. For years, McDonald's has been giving each franchise around $300 per month to keep the cost of Happy Meals down. Without the contribution, many franchisees say they will be forced to raise the price of the popular menu item. 

    The company told franchisees that it’s doing away with the subsidy because it’s "no longer fueling growth in the way it once was.” As a result, franchises have been cleared to increase the price of a Happy Meal by 20 cents starting next year if they so choose. 

    The National Owners Association, a group of McDonald's franchisees, said in a team message that it "does not support, nor did we endorse" the elimination of the financial support, according to CNN Business.

    "We believe the Happy Meal rebates represent a token of partnership and acknowledgment by the company that each owner [and] operator invests to drive affordable family business to our restaurants," the group said in the letter.

    The price of McDonald’s Happy Meals could rise in 2021 as a result of the end of a deal between the fast food giant and its franchisees. Previously, the de...
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    McDonald’s to roll out two new menu items to bolster sales

    Spicy McNuggets and a new McFlurry will be available September 16 for a limited time

    In an effort to offset the drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, McDonald’s will soon introduce two new menu items. The fast-food chain has announced that it will add Spicy McNuggets and a Chips Ahoy McFlurry to its menu for a limited time starting September 16. 

    “This is the first time we’ve introduced a new flavor of our classic Chicken McNuggets in the U.S. since they came to menus in 1983,” said Vice President of Menu Innovation, Linda VanGosen in a statement. “As our customers have been asking for Spicy McNuggets for some time now, we couldn’t think of a better time to bring them to our menus. We can’t wait for McNuggets fans to get a taste of these new spicy options.”

    McDonald’s said the new Spicy McNuggets will be made with a tempura coating that includes cayenne and chili peppers. The nuggets will be complemented by a new “Mighty Hot Sauce,” which McDonald’s says will boast a “powerful blend of crushed red peppers and spicy chilis.”

    The Chips Ahoy McFlurry, meanwhile, will include crushed cookies and caramel swirls. 

    “This delicious treat features vanilla soft-serve, caramel topping and Chips Ahoy! cookie pieces blended throughout,” the company said in a statement. “The Chips Ahoy! McFlurry will be available in Snack and Regular sizes for a limited time at participating U.S. restaurants nationwide beginning September 16.” 

    COVID-19 safety measures

    To help customers feel safe, McDonald’s is highlighting its new COVID-19 related safety measures. The fast-food giant says it has worked with the Mayo Clinic to ensure proper sanitation protocols are followed in restaurants and at the drive-thru. 

    McDonald’s is also requiring staff and all customers who enter U.S. restaurants to wear a face covering.

    “While nearly 82% of our restaurants are in states or localities that require facial coverings for both crew and customers today, it’s important we protect the safety of all employees and customers,” the company said. “We cannot emphasize enough the importance of continuing to follow PPE procedures including proper mask use by crew.” 

    In an effort to offset the drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, McDonald’s will soon introduce two new menu items. The fast-food chain has announ...
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