Food News

The Egg McMuffin Turns 50 and Thursday It's Only 63 Cents

McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich is 50 years old. We mean its creation, not the actual sandwiches.
McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich is 50 years old. We mean its creation, not the actual sandwiches. Lauren Drewes Daniels
The Egg McMuffin is one of the most iconic menu items at McDonald's. It's right up there with the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder and the elusive McRib. On Thursday, Nov. 18, McDonald's is celebrating the sandwich's 50th anniversary with a special 63 cent rollback price during regular breakfast hours. You'll just need to download and use their app to get it.

The Egg McMuffin is simple and hearty. It combines the basic requirements for all of us who skip the fruit section of the breakfast buffet line: You can eat it on the go, and it's satisfying without being overindulgent. If it wasn't the byproduct of a cheap food industry refined with flavor-enhancing chemicals, it would be perfect.

Even if you're the kind of person who carries a copy of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation around the way missionaries tote around a leather-bound Bible, you can't discredit the fact that the dish's creation opened a whole new industry and cheap culinary style that's still being imitated and reinvented.

Herb Peterson, a McDonald's franchise owner operating out of Santa Barbara, California, created the first version of the iconic breakfast sandwich, according to the company's official website. Peterson wanted a fancy breakfast sandwich that could be delivered and eaten just like chain's iconic burgers created by founder Roy Kroc or Richard and Maurice McDonald, depending on whose side you're on after watching The Founder.

Peterson started with an eggs Benedict item but the sauce proved too unwieldy to package and produce for the masses. So he replaced it with a slice of addictive cheese, cooked the egg in a circular cookie cutter and added a slice of Canadian bacon. He put all three on an English muffin and served it open-faced with honey or jam and sold them for 63 cents each. Four years later, the McDonald's Corp. rolled out the breakfast creation to its entire chain.

The quality, of course, depends on where you go, but any differences are subtle. The salty ham and egg may be preprocessed goods, but the flavor still shines through. The English muffin is toasted to a soft and chewy outer crust with a slightly yielding middle. Crispy uneven edges bring it all together. If you're lucky, you'll get one that's just slightly burnt on the edges for an extra-crispy texture.

Despite not being in the realm of "superfoods," it's not an awful breakfast choice, at least when compared with the fat-filled sausage patties or a maple syrup-infused pancake bun on the McGriddles. It's not something you should eat every morning if you want to stay alive but if you're on the run and need to eat, it won't completely destroy your meal plan.
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.