McDonald’s is updating its McCafé menu with several new baked goods, including muffin toppers, a treat best known from a classic “Seinfeld” episode that aired 21 years ago.
The chain is slowly rolling out a line of premium baked goods at remodeled McDonald’s stores sporting the chain’s Experience of the Future design. The so-called muffin topper is reportedly available in Baltimore and is generating national media attention and buzz among nostalgic Gen Xers who grew up watching the popular NBC comedy starring Jerry Seinfeld.
The muffin toppers are part of an “elevated McCafé experience” that also includes coffee cakes and apple pies with lattice crusts that are baked in-restaurant, McDonald’s spokeswoman Andrea Abate told Nation’s Restaurant News.
McDonald’s Muffin Toppers line will include three flavors: lemon poppy seed, blueberry and double chocolate. Abate said the new baked goods are rolling out to most remodeled stores this year and next year.
Two remodeled McDonald’s stores in Southern California were not selling the item early Tuesday morning. In fact, young employees looked perplexed when asked if the restaurant was selling muffin tops.
For the uninitiated, binge watching Seinfeld on Netflix might help.
In the 1987 Seinfeld episode, the main female character, Elaine, tells her band of misfit friends that she prefers the tops over the “stumps.” She and her boss then open a bakery dedicated only to muffin tops.
“It's crunchy, it's explosive, it's where the muffin breaks free of the pan and sort of does its own thing,” she says. “I'll tell you. That's a million-dollar idea right there.”
Spike Feresten Jr., the writer of the famed Seinfeld episode, took to YouTube to comment on the news and took the opportunity to request some serious dough from McDonald’s.
“You’re going to have to pay me a billion dollars,” said Feresten Jr., who also wrote the show’s famous “The Soup Nazi” episode.
Chicago-based McDonald’s didn’t comment immediately when asked about Feresten’s comment. The chain has done little to promote the new line of baked goods, and has never referenced the Seinfeld episode.
Restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski said McDonald’s is smart to look at items that might have sticking power at a national scale. Specifically, he said, they are looking at other brands that have success selling premium baked goods along with coffee including Panera Bread, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.
“McDonald’s is testing out to what degree does the brand want to play in that area,” said Kalinowski, president and founder of Kalinowski Equity Research.
To date, about 4,000 of the 14,000 McDonald’s U.S. restaurants have been converted to the company’s redesigned Experience of the Future restaurants. By the end of the year, McDonald’s said 3,000 more restaurants will adopt the new design which features kiosks, an Uber Eats pick up counter and fancier furnishings.
Last year, McDonald’s said the company would refocus on improving the McCafe menu, which had been largely unchanged for years. This year, the menu debuted a Cold Brew Frozen Coffee and a Cold Brew Frappe. The chain also upgraded espresso machines, which produce a creamier and thicker milk foam.
Beyond McCafé, McDonald’s is experimenting with other menu strategies to boost sales.
This year, the company started testing breakfast catering in 195 restaurants in the Orlando area. The bundled morning meals include more than a dozen preselected catering trays serving everything from Egg McMuffins to pancakes to parfaits.
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