Why McDonald's Temporarily Stopped Selling The McGriddle

Correction 9/2/22: An earlier version of this story stated that the discontinuance of the McGriddle was permanent; it was temporary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imagine pulling up to the drive-thru of your local McDonald's on any given morning. Quickly, you fall under the spell of the mouth-watering aromas cast into your car by the fast-food chain's beloved breakfast: the freshly brewed coffee, the piping hot hash browns, and the legendary McGriddle.

The McGriddle, for those who may be unfamiliar, is similar to the McMuffin family of breakfast sandwiches but replaces the English muffin buns with two thick, maple-flavored "griddle cakes." The sandwiches debuted in 2003 as part of McDonald's breakfast menu, per Business Insider, and they became a central component of its morning lineup. After all, the only thing better than a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and eggs is a sandwich that combines all three into one cohesive package. Esquire called it "the perfect and unholy union of savory and sweet." 

But during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, McDonald's breakfast lovers wondered where the highly-praised pancake sandwich had gone. Did Ronald McDonald remove it from the menu when fans turned their backs on clowns as mascots? 

McDonald's canned the McGriddle at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic

McDonald's was far from the only food-service location to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and related economic factors. However, even in taking a bit of a blow during that stretch (per CNN), the fast-food chain was able to keep its head above water, for the most part, at least. But what does that have to do with the temporary disappearance of the McGriddle sandwiches?

According to a September 2020 report from Restaurant Business Online, McDonald's was a place for many people to get food during the pandemic while other restaurants were shut down. While one might think this would be good for business, there was a snag in McDonald's operation that was creating problems: the all-day breakfast. Employees taking both breakfast item and regular menu item orders simultaneously while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines made things complicated, thus slowing down service. To remedy this, the chain axed its all-day breakfast program to eliminate some of the chaos. The axing of all-day breakfast also involved the temporary removal of several McDonald's menu items, the Toronto Sun reported in April 2020, including the beloved McGriddle.

Fortunately, McDonald's said that it would return the McGriddle, along with the other departed menu items, as soon as possible. And while McDonald's all-day breakfast doesn't appear to be returning anytime soon, McGriddles are currently available at the fast-food chain's U.S. locations. Bagels have also returned to some McDonald's locations for a limited time.

Are McDonald's employees happy all-day breakfast is gone?

The McGriddle is back on the McDonald's menu, but all-day breakfast isn't back just yet. And for employees, that's not a bad thing. While there's no doubt many people enjoyed the luxury of having McDonald's breakfast whenever they wanted, some employees weren't thrilled about the all-day breakfast concept.

According to a 2016 Mic report, McDonald's employees found the all-day breakfast to be an incredible hassle. The main pain point was the issue of having to make the breakfast items (some of which require special equipment to prepare) amidst the lunch and dinner rushes. It becomes a challenge to flip burgers and make egg patties all at the same time. Employees told Mic they microwaved some of the food — including the McGriddles — for those who ordered breakfast items later in the day. 

In a 2021 Reddit thread, meanwhile, a number of McDonald's employees voiced their displeasure at the concept of all-day breakfast. Although, with its discontinuation came the added consequence of irritated customers who were unhappy about the end of the all-day breakfast menu. "I hate how people don't understand WE DON'T SELL HASHBROWNS ALL DAY," noted one user. "People attacking and throwing tantrums over not being able to get their breakfast sandwiches at a certain time and people upset we aren't selling hashbrowns at 5," wrote another user. So great was the apparent demand that the Reddit user speculated that all-day breakfast would one day return to appease the angry crowd.