There's something about McDonald's breakfast that just hits differently. Though pretty much every fast food chain does breakfast now, McDonald's was at the forefront of this trend half a century ago in the 1970s as the first fast food joint to offer breakfast. And then, as now, McDonald's signature breakfast product was the most iconic morning fast food treat of them all: the Egg McMuffin.
Inspired by eggs Benedict, the Egg McMuffin was the brainchild of California franchise owner Herb Peterson, who made it his signature product from the beginning. It's barely changed in the decades since (the only significant change was switching from liquid margarine to real butter in 2015) -- but it almost didn't get off the ground in the first place.
McDonald's owner Ray Kroc was initially skeptical of the idea of the Egg McMuffin -- after all, whoever heard of an eggs Benedict sandwich? But his connection to Peterson -- along with a taste test -- helped bring him around.
Herb Peterson Was Well-Connected In The Food World
It's less unusual than you might think for some of the most iconic products at McDonald's to come from individual franchise owners -- the Big Mac and its iconic sauce were invented at a franchise in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Peterson, though, wasn't some random franchise owner the company barely knew; Peterson was connected enough to be a good friend of Julia Child. And Kroc himself had encouraged Peterson to open a franchise in Goleta, California. Still, even Kroc was taken aback by the first concept of the Egg McMuffin.
It makes sense when you think about it. Though breakfast sandwiches had existed since the 19th century in London, their ubiquity in the 1970s wasn't nearly what they are today. Add that to the fact that it was a breakfast sandwich from a restaurant that didn't serve breakfast, and it's easy to see why Kroc was skeptical. In fact, it's possible that if Peterson hadn't already known him, Kroc would've simply rejected the idea.
Ray Kroc's Skepticism Melted Away When He Tasted It
Kroc himself wrote about the introduction of the Egg McMuffin in his 1977 autobiography, "Grinding It Out": "[Peterson] didn't want me to reject it out of hand, which I might have done, because it was a crazy idea — a breakfast sandwich. It consisted of an egg that had been formed in a Teflon circle, with the yolk broken and was dressed with a slice of cheese and a slice of grilled Canadian bacon. This was served open-faced on a toasted and buttered English muffin. I boggled a bit at the presentation. But then I tasted it, and I was sold."
Granted, the form of the Egg McMuffin that eventually went into mass production isn't quite the same as Peterson's initial vision; the version we know isn't open-faced, for one thing. But it's easy to see how history could have been different if the two men hadn't known each other well enough for Kroc to give it a chance. Thankfully, he did, and the American breakfast sandwich landscape as we know it came to pass.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.