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The History of the McDonald's McGriddle

In the early 2000s, McDonald’s recognized there was a gap in their breakfast menu — there were few sweet options and even fewer portable foods — and as competitors began to expand their own offerings, McDonald’s wanted to be able to compete. McDonald’s leadership knew that customers loved the hotcakes, but that they lacked portability in an increasingly on-the-go world. Tom Ryan, who is well-known in the fast-food industry (he created Pizza Hut's Stuffed-Crust Pizza and Quiznos' Steakhouse Beef Dip) and holds degrees in flavor and fragrance chemistry as well as lipid toxicology from Michigan State University, was tasked with coming up with a new menu item that built upon what customers loved about McDonald’s while also offering them something convenient and unique. His creation? The McGriddle. According to Ryan, who frequently shares the credit for the creation with his team, the most difficult aspect of creating the McGriddle was figuring out how to get the syrup crystals inside the hotcake-inspired “buns” so that the unique breakfast food could be eaten with just one hand, making it very portable and even driver-friendly for McDonald’s busy morning commuter crowd. To achieve this unique element of the McGriddle, Ryan and his team talked with several companies that specialized in “inclusions” and were eventually able to get syrup crystals into the dough and even engineered them to melt at a certain temperature to provide that noticeable maple flavor. Still, it took a year and a half to officially launch because they had to ensure the process could be replicated at all locations. The team first rolled the McGriddle out to test markets, where the new breakfast sandwiches did very well thanks to their combination of sweet and savory flavors. The McDonald’s McGriddle officially debuted in 2003 and was an immediate hit. Today, it is available in three configurations — Sausage; Sausage, Egg, and Cheese; and Bacon, Egg, and Cheese — and is now one of McDonald’s most beloved and best-selling menu items of all time.

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