McDonald’s drops seven sandwiches to streamline menu

McDonald’s menu just got smaller.

In an effort to speed up its kitchens and simplify customers’ choices, McDonald’s Corp. got rid of the Deluxe Quarter Pounder burger and six chicken sandwiches in the U.S. in the first quarter. The chain, which has talked for years about paring slow-selling items, also nixed honey mustard and chipotle barbecue snack wraps.

“It was a ‘rolling removal,’ meaning restaurants discontinued serving them as their supply depleted,” said Lisa McComb, a company spokeswoman.

McDonald’s new chief executive officer, Steve Easterbrook, is facing six straight quarters of declining same-stores sales in the U.S., along with pressure to sell healthier fare. While axing some sandwiches helps to condense the bloated menu, McDonald’s still has about 40 more items than it did in 2007, according to menu researcher Datassential in Los Angeles.

“They could cut their burger number in half,” said Michelle Greenwald, a marketing professor at Columbia Business School in New York City.

“If you have a good burger, a really, really good burger, you don’t need a million,” she said. “They should go for quality and not quantity.”

McDonald’s has tacked on a flurry of new fare in the past decade in an attempt to draw more customers and better compete with other fast-food restaurants. In 2006, the chain added grilled- and crispy-chicken snack wraps, and in 2009 began selling McCafe espresso drinks and three versions of Angus burgers nationwide. McCafe smoothies and frappes were added in 2010, and Shamrock Shakes were sold nationally for the first time in 2012. The Angus burgers have since been discontinued.

Replacement Burger

The Deluxe Quarter Pounder was replaced by a similar hamburger with different toppings, McComb said.

While McDonald’s has worked to trim its menu, new-food news is important for the company and its competitors. Burger King recently posted its best quarterly North American sales growth in almost a decade, thanks in part to a promotion offering chicken nuggets for 15 cents each. The company also recently announced it would bring back chicken fries permanently after a two-month test last year helped boost sales.

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