McDonald's to Go Nationwide With Breakfast Dollar Menu

Will expand promotion currently limited to Chicago, other selected markets

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp. appears to be planning to mate its popular dollar menu with its equally popular breakfast menu in a nationwide promotionnot just in Chicago and a few other markets where it currently exists, according to documents obtained by The Chicago Tribune.

This would appear to be the first time McDonald's has brought the dollar menu to a breakfast promotion in a nationwide fashion. McDonald's told the newspaper that "it does not comment on information obtained from unauthorized sources," or on rumors or speculation.

The Oak Brook, [image-nocss] Ill.-based fast-feeder in August brought the dollar menu to breakfast in Chicago, with six items at that price point, including the sausage McMuffin, a sausage biscuit and two hotcakes. The company has stores in a "few other markets" that have also brought the dollar menu to breakfast, McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner told stock analysts in a conference call two weeks ago, though he did not elaborate on which markets.

It is not clear whether the breakfast dollar menu nationally would mirror Chicago's, said the report. But national advertising for the breakfast dollar menu is likely to begin in January and run through the first six months of 2010, according to documents obtained by the paper. A group of McDonald's franchisees and executives that set national ad priorities has recommended such a course. McDonald's franchisee groups that determine local advertising still need to vote on the idea, but they usually go along with the national body.

McDonald's launched its breakfast menu 30 years ago, and the company remains the heavyweight player in the quick-serve breakfast business, despite increasing competition. The notion of a national push for the breakfast dollar menu comes at a time when even fast-food chains, including to a lesser extent McDonald's, have struggled with slowing sales, the report said.

Some companiesnotably Burger King with its dollar double cheeseburgerhave taken to discounting more premium sandwiches. Meanwhile, many companies are playing up their value offerings, including McDonald's in a recently launched ad campaign featuring a guy roaming around trying to find what he can buy for a dollar, and coming up with basically zilch, except at the Golden Arches.

McDonald's also plans in January to nationally roll out its Big Mac snack wrap, according to documents obtained by the Tribune. McDonald's began testing the item late last year in 400 U.S. restaurants and later, at least temporarily, across Canada. Milwaukee and Houston both served as U.S. test markets.

The new wrap is cross between McDonald's chicken wraps and the company's Big Mac burger. The snack wrap features Big Mac fixingssliced burger patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onionsbut no sesame seed bun.