McDonald’s new all-day breakfast pastries have finally arrived, just in time to fatten us up for hibernation. The more substantial, McMuffin-laden all-day breakfast menu was 86’ed back in March for the sake of “streamlining operations” after coronavirus broke the world, but this new all-day breakfast solution falls under the McCafe umbrella—a category of the McDonald’s menu that plays by its own damn rules. You want a warm cinnamon roll for lunch? A midnight muffin? How about swapping out your Big Mac bun for two sugar-glazed apple fritters? Nothing can stop you now. And nothing could stop me from eating everything on this brand-new menu the moment it became available, because it’s my solemn duty to the American people.
Blueberry muffins are easy to make, yet the world is full of millions of shitty ones—muffins that are dry like sawdust, or gummy like library paste, with specks of “blueberries” that are actually just itty bitty nuggets of artificially flavored starch. Harboring serious trust issues with blueberry muffins and low expectations for McDonald’s, I was bracing myself for disaster. What a pleasant surprise it was to bite into a muffin that was soft and pillowy, with a springy crumb and loads of actual blueberries! If I have a single complaint it’s that this muffin is far too sugary for my tastes, but that’s a personal preference. If you’re the type of person who likes their breakfast on the sweeter side, you’ll find a lot to like here. Grade: A-
Wisely, McDonald’s is serving its cinnamon rolls warm, a small step that can salvage the most middling of breakfast pastries. When eaten hot out of the microwave, these cinnamon rolls are a decent treat, much like the ones from IKEA, which, if we’re being honest, aren’t actually all that special. McDonald’s version has an ideal amount of brown sugar and cinnamon, allowing you to still taste the pastry itself rather than blowing out your palate with the overwhelming sweetness of icing. There are distinguishable notes of vanilla, and while I doubt McDonald’s is paying a premium for the good stuff, the chain has definitely sprung for some top-quality imitation flavoring. If you’re looking for a gooey, indulgent cinnamon roll, this is not it, but then again, are you really expecting something of that caliber from McDonald’s? You know what you’re getting into when you order pastries from a place that’s legendary for tasty molded pork product. When you remember that, it’s easy to celebrate this cinnamon roll for its virtues rather than malign its shortcomings. Grade: B+
Sadly, I can’t be as generous with my handicapping of the McDonald’s apple fritter. This is an item that is regularly available at Starbucks, which is a chain that manages to get this item right. Fritters, just like all fried foods, are best when they’re freshly made. On one hand, I am grateful McDonald’s is not making fresh apple fritters, because I do not want any sort of fried dough that tastes faintly of McNuggets. On the other, this fritter was crusty, dry, and a waste of calories. The glaze was crystalized, the apples invisible, and the flavor disappointing. As I ate it, I wished I had gotten a fritter from the Starbucks down the street. I’ll give McDonald’s points for trying, but when you’re the world’s biggest restaurant, is simply trying really good enough? Grade: C-