At the end of April McDonald's launched its first new breakfast sandwich in a decade. The last one, the McGriddle, played to our weaker impulses, a sweet, salty, fatty early-morning train wreck that weighed in at more than 500 calories with as many as 31 fat grams. This newcomer is a little less self-indulgent: The Egg White Delight McMuffin slides in at 250 calories, with a whole grain muffin, grilled egg whites, Canadian bacon and white cheddar cheese, retailing for around $2.99.
The first question, of course, is how is this offering different from a traditional McMuffin? The original is 300 calories, with 12 grams of fat (five of saturated fat), 18 grams of protein and 32 grams of carbs. The new sandwich matches it exactly on protein, carbs and serving size (4.8 ounces), but cuts the fat back to seven grams (three of saturated fat). Although the Canadian-style bacon is touted as "extra lean," it's the same round of pork, water, sugar, salt, sodium lactate, sodium phosphate, natural flavor, sodium diacetate and sodium nitrite as in the regular McMuffin. The new higher-fiber whole grain English muffins can now be substituted on all muffin sandwiches. And both the regular McMuffin and the Egg White Delight get a spritz of liquid margarine (largely soybean and cottonseed oil).
Thus, the real differences between this new sandwich and the original are the cheese and the lack of yolk.
The second question is how do these changes stack up? A quick drive through this morning answered the question. While steering one-handed, the sandwich was excavated, its fluffy egg whites peeking lacily from between the muffin halves. This is the first regular menu item at McDonald's to contain white cheddar, the traditional neon-orange American having been supplanted with a demure, not overly sharp square of creamy, buff-colored cheddar. This new cheese represents a marked improvement in my mind.
And the lack of yolk isn't a hardship. Egg white obviously misses some of the richness and flavor of a full egg, so a titch of extra salt lends a boost to the Delight. In short, it's a satisfying breakfast sandwich with plenty of flavor, not too ascetic. It comes alongside a number of new McDonald's products — a trio of premium McWraps, a passel of new Quarter Pounder varieties — but the impetus for the Egg White Delight McMuffin launch is more clearly health driven.
In recent years there has been conflicting data on whether egg yolks are friend or foe. Just two days after the launch of this product the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that indicates that intestinal bacteria convert nutrients from egg yolks into a compound that correlates strongly with heart disease, stroke and death.
For 50 calories less, five fewer fat grams and conceivably healthier gut bacteria, the Egg White Delight McMuffin seems like a reasonable choice. Plus, while driving, you don't risk the yolk being on you.