McDonald’s will start serving Donut Sticks nationwide next week as part of its latest effort to rebuild breakfast sales lost over the past year.
The Chicago-based burger giant will officially launch the limited-time offer on Feb. 20, though stores will start selling the product this week. Customers will be able to buy six or 12 sticks, and the chain promises a value offer involving Donut Sticks and a McCafe coffee.
The sticks are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served warm “throughout the morning.”
“It was critical that we perfected them before we brought them to our customers nationwide,” Linda VanGosen, McDonald’s vice president of menu innovation, said in a statement. “We looked at several donut shapes, tested a variety of doughs and even worked to get the amount of cinnamon sugar just right for the recipe.”
McDonald’s has been pushing value and innovation more aggressively in the mornings, in large part as a reaction to suddenly weak traffic at breakfast—which some attribute to customers’ shifting behavior following the introduction of all-day breakfast in prior years.
Transactions declined 2.2% last year in the chain’s 14,000 U.S. locations, with much of the problem taking place in the morning—which had been the chain’s traditional strength.
The company has used some value offers to bring in traffic. It has also shifted some value offers so they’re more locally focused—believing that breakfast sales in particular vary from one region of the country to another.
But the chain has also tried more innovation. The company started selling Triple Breakfast Stacks in November and now is trying Donut Sticks—a product that should intensify a quiet battle with coffee chain Dunkin’, led by former McDonald’s executive Dave Hoffmann.
McDonald’s has been working to bolster its coffee-focused McCafe brand. Donut Sticks are the first “sweet treat” the company has started selling in the morning. The chain has also tested Muffin Toppers and Coffee Cakes.