Leaked internal documents reveal McDonald's is debuting a new menu item that looks straight out of Dunkin's playbook as the fast-food breakfast battle heats up

Donut Fries 1Dunkin' Donuts

  • McDonald's is debuting Donut Sticks in February, according to internal documents shared with Business Insider.
  • The deep-fried sticks of dough, coated with cinnamon sugar, look very similar to Dunkin's Donut Fries, which rolled out nationally in June 2018.
  • This is the second national breakfast item McDonald's will have launched in less than a year, after more than a decade without a single new breakfast item.
  • "We want to do better at breakfast," McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook told investors in October, saying that he hoped new food items would "reenergize" sales during the morning.

McDonald's is taking a page out of Dunkin's playbook to drum up excitement about breakfast.

In February, the chain plans to launch "Donut Sticks" as a limited-time offering, according to internal documents viewed by Business Insider. The strips of deep-fried dough, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, will only be available during breakfast hours.

"They're light and crunchy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside," according to the internal description of the product.

Here's what the Donut Sticks look like:

breakfast sticks Kate Taylor

Customers will be able to buy six Donut Sticks at the recommended price of $1.29 or a dozen for $2.39. McDonald's is also pushing a bundled deal of a half-dozen Donut Sticks and a small coffee for $1.99.

McDonald's declined to confirm any plans to roll out Donut Sticks, but said in a statement that customers could expect "more delicious and craveable news to come in 2019."

The Donut Sticks appear to be markedly similar to Dunkin's Donut Fries, which the chain rolled out nationally as a limited-time offering in June 2018. According to Dunkin' Brands CEO David Hoffman, Donut Fries "quickly became one of the best-performing limited-time offer bakery items in recent brand history."

McDonald's quest to boost breakfast sales

McDonald's Breakfast StacksHollis Johnson/Business Insider

While McDonald's has long been the king of fast-food breakfast, the chain has recently lost market share to competitors as fast-food rivals double down on morning sales.

Read more: McDonald's is adding its first new breakfast menu items in more than 15 years as the fast-food breakfast battles heat up

"We're still losing a little share," McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook told investors in October. "It's very competitive out there at breakfast."

"We want to do better at breakfast," Easterbrook said. "We've got some initiatives in place, which we're going to see out through the next few months and also some new food news, which we think will reenergize the day part."

In September, McDonald's expanded its $1 $2 $3 menu to include $1 for any size coffee, Sausage Biscuit, or the Sausage McMuffin. In November, the chain debuted Triple Breakfast Stacks, breakfast sandwiches with three times as much meat - the chain's first new breakfast item in 15 years. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that McDonald's is hoping to boost breakfast sales by "testing baked goods including coffee cakes and muffin tops."

"Customers have been lovin' the quality and iconic taste of McDonald's breakfast for decades," a McDonald's representative said in a statement on Wednesday. "In recent years, All Day Breakfast, more McCafé choices and new breakfast tastes, like our Triple Breakfast Stacks, are all proof of our renewed breakfast commitment."

The Donut Sticks will represent McDonald's first national roll-out of a breakfast baked good in years, though the chain has launched a number of regional tests. Currently, McDonald's only has three items on its national McCafé Bakery menu: the iconic Apple Pie and two types of cookies.

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