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The McSpawn of the McMuffin

If you're a busy, on-the-go businessperson, you've probably spent the last couple of weeks mourning the recent death of Herb Peterson, inventor of the Egg McMuffin, at age 89. Where would the world be without the Egg McMuffin? Well, for starters, the world would probably still be able to fit into its college pants. But apart from that, we'd probably all be a little less chipper on busy commutes and early-morning road trips. And now that we've lost the man behind the McMuffin — a certain first-ballot Hall of Fame breakfast item — we can think of no better time to take stock of the modern fast-food breakfast landscape. So we sampled nine signature breakfast products at fast-food restaurants. Some are brilliant, some are baffling, and all are obscenely, beautifully big. — Jay Cridlin [email protected]

McDonald's McGriddle

The McGriddle is the unequivocal heir to the Egg McMuffin; four of Mickey D's breakfast value menu items are McGriddle-based. The McGriddle's syrupy-sweet pancake buns serve as amazing complements to the salty egg, cheese and meat. Mr. Peterson would no doubt be proud that his legacy of innovation lives on. Grade: A

Chick-Fil-A Chick-n-Minis

Purists can have their plain ol' chicken biscuit. Give us a four-pack of these bite-size nuggets on lovely honey-butter yeast rolls. Pair them with the so-greasy-they're-translucent hash browns, and you're good to go. Grade: A

Burger King Cheesy Bacon BK Wrapper

Burger King's latest abomination unto God is the new Cheesy Bacon BK Wrapper, which combines scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon and hash browns in one burrito-style wrap. It's cheap ($1.39) and smaller and not as heavy as you'd think, and the flavor is quite good. It's certainly a better option than the 730-calorie Enormous Omelet Sandwich, a brute that ought to be serving five to 10 in Leavenworth. Grade: B-plus

Dunkin' Donuts Supreme Omelet Sandwich

Let's be honest — you come to Dunkin' Donuts for the excellent coffee and donuts, not the breakfast menu. And with good reason: The Supreme Omelet Sandwich is giant, bready, chewy and borderline flavorless. You're much better off buying a pastry or bagel and cream cheese. Grade: D

Panera Baked Egg Souffle

Like Einstein Bros., Panera has a pretty kickin' slate of a.m. offerings. Their signature item is the souffle, which looks more expensive than it really is ($3.29) and corrals unique flavors like Tabasco sauce, artichoke hearts and artisan cheeses into a very tidy little pastry. It's flavorful and goes down easy, but it's pretty heavy, so bring your appetite. Grade: B-plus

Wendy's Maple Baked Frescuit

Wendy's is still fairly new to the breakfast game, and it shows. This McGriddle rip-off isn't as tasty and well-made as the original. The maple-flavored buns taste like pancakes but are flaky like biscuits, which works about as well as you'd think. Grade: C-minus

Whataburger Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit

This sounds like a pretty sweet meal, but it's actually rather standard stuff. The "honey butter" taste doesn't come across as much as you'd like, which leaves you with a basic chicken biscuit. Not bad ... but it could be so much more. Grade: B-minus

Einstein Bros. Spinach, Mushroom & Swiss egg sandwich

Einstein's serves breakfast all day, and considering their lineup includes egg paninis, bagels and lox, southwestern egg wraps, that's a good thing. The Spinach, Mushroom & Swiss sandwich, available on a variety of bagels and breads, is a pleasant break from the standard fast-food menu offerings. At $4.59 a pop, though, consider this more of a special-occasion breakfast. Grade: B

Hardee's Loaded Biscuit 'N' Gravy Breakfast Bowl

KFC took a lot of heat for its ridiculous all-in-one meal the Famous Bowl. But breakfast titan Hardee's has quietly followed suit with the Loaded Biscuit 'N' Gravy Breakfast Bowl, featuring a hearty biscuit, meat, egg and cheese drowning in a sea of gravy. It tastes all right, but it's not for the faint of heart. To finish one, you'd have to be either (A) starving, (B) crazy, or (C) the entire Baltimore Ravens defensive line. Grade: C-minus

The McSpawn of the McMuffin 04/11/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 3:30pm]
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