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These Beloved Fast Food Meals Are Secretly Disappearing

The coronavirus quarantine upended Americans' daily routines, and one fast food meal has suffered the most.
mcdonalds egg mcmuffin breakfast

Remember what life was like pre-pandemic? You could eat out at restaurants, go to concerts, have parties with friends… While not as enjoyable, another nearly-universal pre-pandemic ritual was going into work every day. But once stay-at-home orders were put in place, non-essential office spaces almost simultaneously went dark, and millions of Americans found out what it was like to work at home.

Working from home didn't just have an effect on our personal lives, it also had an effect on restaurants—and not in a good way. As commuting to work ground to a near halt, so did breakfast orders at fast food and chain restaurants.

Nation's Restaurant News reports that fast food and chain restaurants are not selling nearly as many breakfast items as they did pre-pandemic—and these restaurants may have to cut back on their existing offerings to stay afloat.

Pre-pandemic, the fast-food breakfast category was all the rage—McDonald's had their all-day breakfast, Wendy's started serving breakfast, and Taco Bell just added toasted breakfast burritos to their breakfast menu. But that popularity plummeted once quarantine started. At peak pandemic during the week of April 12, breakfast transactions were down by over 50%, according to NPD Group Data. This huge drop in sales can likely be attributed to a significant decrease in commuter traffic as well as customers realizing that it's more affordable and practical to make easy breakfast recipes at home.

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If you've been ordering from fast food and fast-casual restaurants during the pandemic, you've probably witnessed firsthand how breakfast items have quietly been disappearing from menus. McDonald's officially halted all-day breakfast and IHOP even whittled their 12-page breakfast menu down to just two pages.

Because breakfast items just aren't moving right now, you can expect to see restaurants take a page out of food manufacturers' playbooks and remove some of their less-popular items off the menu. Big food companies, like Amy's, Frito-Lay, and PepsiCo, have been discontinuing products that aren't selling well. Coca-Cola even permanently discontinued an entire beverage line.

With states closing dine-in services again as COVID-19 cases have begun to rise again, it's likely that restaurants who rely on on-premise breakfast sales, like Denny's and IHOP, won't be able to bounce back anytime soon. And even if you're looking to eat breakfast out, make sure you're informed the next time you dine in a restaurant by knowing that Experts Say It Takes This Long to Catch COVID-19 at a Bar or Restaurant.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more