Say what you want about McDonald’s, but its breakfast game is strong. In 2003, the fast food giant released a product that was rather ingenious for its time: McGriddles. This breakfast sandwich was offered with the usual choices of sausage egg and cheese or bacon egg and cheese, but McDonald’s flipped the script by serving McGriddles between two fluffy little pancakes (a.k.a. griddle cakes) studded with maple syrup and branded (in a cute way) with the McDonald’s “M.” It was the birth of a legend.
McGriddles had qualities the general public had yet to see from fast food breakfast. First, it rode the sweet and savory wave way before other chains thought it was cool (take that salted caramel!). Second, there was science behind its inception that involved actual scientists.
The beauty of McGriddles is that you get a ubiquitous maple syrup taste without having to deal with a side of sticky syrup. McGriddles’ creator, Tom Ryan, the food scientist of Stuffed Crust Pizza and Smashburger fame, worked with a technology team to engineer maple syrup crystals designed to melt inside the griddle cakes at a certain temperature. Genius! Layer on a melted cheese slice, Mickey D’s trademark folded egg, and a zesty sausage patty and the McGriddle has more flavor complexity than its drive-thru contemporaries. Of course, the nutrition facts scroll out like a highway to saturated fat hell, but that’s what gives trash food its so-wrong-it’s-right appeal when eaten on occasion.