McDonald’s and Tims are beefing over eggs

The chicken sandwich wars are so 2020. The battle has now shifted to the Great Breakfast Sandwich Wars, with Tim Hortons and McDonald’s Canada the two primary combatants.

The companies have been beefing about eggs for the past month, ever since Tim Hortons announced that it was swapping out the traditional omelette-style patties in its breakfast sandwiches for Freshly Cracked Eggs.

Tims has been aggressively pushing the changeover, and said this week that it plans to ratchet up its marketing activity even more this year as part of an $80-million investment that will “supercharge” its advertising.

McDonald’s, meanwhile, isn’t exactly walking on eggshells when it comes to responding to this new challenge.

It has been slyly pointing out that freshly cracked eggs have been a staple ingredient in its popular McMuffin—which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year—since the beginning. At some point, it changed its Twitter bio to read “Servin’ freshly cracked eggs since 1976.”

Last week, it posted what was designed to look like an ad from 1976 announcing the Egg McMuffin. It introduced the old-timey ad with a tweet reading “Just scrolling through the old archives, and came across this gem. Wow 1976. Good times, good times.”

And on Friday, its PR agency Weber Shandwick issued a press release treated to look like it was written in 1976, complete with a typewriter font and faded paper. The release “introduces” the new Egg McMuffin, describing the sandwich as part of a series of “groovy” additions to its breakfast menu that also include hash browns and hotcakes.

The release features the words “Freshly cracked eggs” (or variations on the phrase) throughout, with one sentence reading “Keeping quality ingredients top of mind, every one of our new breakfast sandwiches starts with freshly cracked eggs from Canadian farms.”

Later it informs readers that all of its crew members are trained in a “nifty 12-step process” designed to set the McMuffin sandwiches apart from the competition. “We make sure Canadians receive the tastiest egg every time by cracking the eggs and cooking them up fresh right in our kitchen.”

“While we may never know if the chicken or the egg came first, it’s clear who was servin’ freshly cracked eggs first,” said McDonald’s in a statement to The Message. “Yolking around a little bit seemed like the perfect way to remind Canadians that we got cracking with quality eggs from Canadian farmers 45 years ago.”

The value of the Canadian breakfast sandwich market has been pegged at more than $700 million a year, with McDonald’s saying it served up more than 202 million McMuffins in 2019 and 2020. The Sausage ‘n Egg McMuffin alone accounted for 99 million of those orders.

Egg sandwiches, then, have clearly become a major source of revenue for McDonald’s in the nearly half-century since their introduction. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that the golden arches is doing whatever it can to prevent Tims from harming its golden goose.

Chris Powell