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The tough-to-swallow truth about McDonald's all-day breakfast

A hot take on hot cakes

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It's no secret that McDonald's is flailing — losing Americans' trust, losing their dollars, losing the "big deal / special treat" designation in popular consciousness that it held in the 1970s (according to my mom) and in the 1990s (according to me). Efforts to counter these setbacks have included unconvincing promises of fresh ingredients, serial trial and failure of terrible new products, presumably bribing James Franco to write a testimonial about how wage labor functions as emotional support, and a super douchey PR interaction with Burger King.

None of these things won us back over to the Golden Arches' side. So Big M is trying something different; they're putting their finger back on the pulse of America, if you will, by catering to an Adam Sandler movie from 1999.

Taking its cues from a tiny Sprouse twin and the man, the myth, the cultural arbiter himself, McDonald's is now making breakfast last all day. Here's a double whammy declaration of why that's the worst possible decision they could make.

Loren Grush: It's a basic principle of economics: scarcity creates demand. People want things more when they're in limited supply. Think about how bonkers people get about the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The drink isn't that great, y'all. But the fact that you can't even decide if you want one between January and August drives people nuts.

It's that same mindset that drives the cult following behind the McDonald's breakfast. It's special because you can't just get it whenever you want. You have to get your ass out of bed and into your nearest McDonald's before 10:30AM (or 11AM on the weekends), otherwise no deliciously crisp hash browns or hotcakes doused in liquid margarine for you.

Also let's be real here: the hash browns and hotcakes are the only good part of the McDonald's breakfast. The other menu items are pretty lackluster and borderline gross. If you've ever had the misfortune of eating an Egg McMuffin after it has cooled to room temperature, you know that it's similar to chewing on Play-Doh. And yes, I know the Cinnamon Melts are tasty; so is pouring sugar down your throat, and you can do that anytime.

McDonald's breakfast is special because you can't just get it whenever you want

No, the aura of the McDonald's breakfast is bound by the mystique of its 4AM to 10:30AM time frame. Its limited-time offer is the key to its success. Without it, the McDonald's breakfast menu is just filled with highly caloric, pre-packaged food items that lose all sense of self.

Kaitlyn Tiffany: Yes, missing breakfast at McDonald's is the worst, especially when you rolled out of bed at 10:30 and don't feel ready for lunch by 11:00. But you know what sucks more? Being a constantly abused food service employee like the one that I see handling herself like a champ in that Big Daddy video. Serving breakfast food all day means that anyone who doesn't work the breakfast shift at McDonald's is now serving double the variety of products. They're also dealing with twice the amount of time waiting for dumb customers to stop staring at the dumb menu and place an order so they can move the dumb line.

mcdonalds

Being on the night crew already sucks. When I was 21 (I am still 21), I worked the 6PM to 2:30AM shift at a bagel and sandwich shop in a college town. We served the drunk population of Said College Town a nonsensical array of pizza bagels; bagels with lox and cream cheese; bagels with egg, cheese, avocado and red onions; paninis with brie, turkey and raspberry jalapeño jam; smoothies with six different ingredients including vacuum-sealed packets of frozen acai pulp; and quad shot lattes. We did so until 2AM, every day, usually with a staff of three or four. On one occasion I was offered a condom as payment for a Smartwater; on many others I was called upon to shove a plain bagel down the throat of a wasted freshman waif who was surely about to vomit onto the counter. I can't even count the number of five dollar bills I accepted from deep within the brassieres of sweaty young women. At some point I started to relish the opportunity to ask my manager to eject anyone I overheard using the word "bitches." Every single night I went home exhausted, angry, covered in stray salsa, and boasting a full two dollars in tips. But it was this last, and possibly smallest indecency that upset me the most: every damn thing I owned — including my winter coat and the inside of my car — smelled of burnt egg. Horribly, irreversibly, constantly, egg and I were one.

Being on the night crew already sucks

When you're on the morning crew, there's no possibility of avoiding that egg smell, but at least you get to interact with people before the events of the day have worn them down into inhuman, hangry (hungry / angry) beasts, or worse, gotten them drunk. You get smiles — from the appreciative, sober, responsible people who are awake at 7AM. At least you know you'll have the afternoon ahead of you when you're done with your shift, rather than the glamorous promise of accidentally waking up all of your roommates at 3AM, nursing your FOMO on Facebook for 30 minutes (because when you work night shifts you have no social life to speak of), then falling asleep next to a stale donut instead of a boyfriend.

McDonald's has already been trimming down its menu as crisis management in the face of customers moving en masse to competitors with drive-thru windows that don't move at such a glacial pace, so this decision makes absolutely no sense for them from a business standpoint. It makes even less sense from an employee morale standpoint, given that it's not the big wigs who will get yelled at, demeaned, and drunkenly slurred at by 15 consecutive customers who are demanding some combination of a breakfast sandwich, a milkshake, a stack of pancakes, and a box of McNuggets at 11PM.

Please, McDonald's, in the name of the night crew's only victory — not smelling of overheated fake eggs — reconsider this choice.