Are French toast sticks discontinued?

French toast sticks, also known as breakfast sticks, are a popular breakfast food consisting of bread coated with an egg batter and then deep fried. They are a portable, handheld version of French toast that can be eaten on the go. French toast sticks are a breakfast menu staple at many fast food restaurants. However, in recent years, some fast food chains seem to have removed French toast sticks from their breakfast menu, leaving fans wondering if this tasty treat has been discontinued for good.

The History of French Toast Sticks

French toast itself dates back centuries, with origins possibly tracing to medieval Europe. The earliest known recipe appears in a 15th century German cookbook under the name “Arme Ritter,” meaning “poor knights.” This primitive French toast was made by dipping bread in milk and eggs and then frying it in butter. Over the centuries, the basic concept evolved into what we now recognize as French toast. Slicing the batter-dipped bread into sticks seems to have emerged later to create a convenient, portable version.

Fast food chains started putting French toast sticks on the map in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1985, Burger King rolled out their French toast sticks coated in a maple flavored syrup. McDonald’s launched their own version of French toast sticks in 1990. These early mass-produced sticks were made from bread dipped in a liquid egg batter and deep fried for a crispy exterior. Their popularity soon exploded. Other chains like Hardee’s, Jack in the Box and Sonic Drive-In jumped on the bandwagon with their own take on French toast sticks. Coupons and discounts on French toast sticks became a staple of fast food breakfast deals and value menus.

For years, French toast sticks remained a staple on fast food breakfast menus. But in recent times, they seem to be disappearing from some chains.

The Dwindling Availability of French Toast Sticks

French toast sticks appear to be slowly vanishing from fast food. McDonald’s phased out their French toast sticks in late 2018, removing them from the national menu. Burger King also discontinued French toast sticks around 2015, although a few regional locations may still offer them. Jack in the Box stopped serving French toast sticks in 2020. Sonic no longer lists French toast sticks on their site menu.

Meanwhile, other fast food chains like Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr and Dairy Queen still offer French toast sticks. However, availability can vary by location. Some individual franchises may have discontinued selling them even if they remain on the national menu.

So while French toast sticks haven’t completely disappeared from fast food, they do seem to be gradually fading away. The shrinking availability leaves fans questioning if French toast sticks are truly discontinued for good or if they could return someday.

Why Fast Food Chains are Discontinuing French Toast Sticks

There are a few leading theories on why major chains like McDonald’s and Burger King have removed French toast sticks from their menus:

Declining popularity – With the influx of new breakfast options at fast food restaurants, French toast sticks may simply be declining in popularity compared to the past. Chains are constantly revamping menus based on changing consumer tastes and demand. Surveys and sales data likely indicated declining interest in French toast sticks.

High labor costs – Preparing French toast sticks is labor intensive compared to other breakfast items. Employees must dip and fry the sticks by hand in small batches. With rising wages and staffing challenges, chains are pivoting to breakfast options that require less effort to prepare.

New priorities – Fast food giants like McDonald’s now prioritize customization and specialty sandwiches for breakfast. Complex customizable orders allow higher prices while combos and signature items like the Egg McMuffin draw interest. Basic French toast sticks don’t fit the model.

Health perceptions – Though not necessarily less healthy than other fast food breakfast items, the fried, sugar-coated nature of French toast sticks doesn’t match chains’ messaging around fresher, lower calorie options. Removal helps cater to health conscious diners.

In the end, falling interest, operational costs, new priorities and changing perceptions around health led iconic chains to abandon French toast sticks. Regional differences in menu offerings and customer preferences may explain why they still linger in some areas. But the overall trajectory points to French toast sticks becoming increasingly rare in fast food.

The Response from French Toast Stick Fans

Disappointed fans have flooded social media and online forums to complain about the disappearance of their beloved French toast sticks. A petition to bring back Burger King’s French toast sticks gathered over 4,000 signatures. McDonald’s Facebook page still sees pleas to resume serving French toast sticks years after discontinuing them. Twitter users reminisce fondly about devouring French toast sticks in their youth.

Review sites feature scathing comments from customers decrying the loss of French toast sticks at various chains. Many threaten to take their breakfast business elsewhere until French toast sticks return. Angry parents argue that removing a favorite kids’ menu item will turn children against the chain. At Sonic locations that cut French toast sticks, reviews implore corporate to intervene to bring them back.

Overall, the social media response indicates a very vocal minority of impassioned French toast stick fans dismayed at the item fading from fast food menus. While chains likely discontinued sticks due to declining broader interest, these devotees remain staunchly loyal to the nostalgic breakfast offering. Their outcry aims to show chains that demand still exists for the return of French toast sticks.

Despite Outcry, Return Seems Unlikely for Most Chains

The social media activism and petitions calling for the return of French toast sticks seem unlikely to produce results. McDonald’s, Burger King and Jack in the Box have given no indication of reversing course to bring back French toast sticks despite the pleas. Even regional locations have mostly aligned with corporate rather than succumbing to customer complaints.

In fast food, menu decisions come down to complex supply chains, operational constraints, profit forecasts and national brand consistency. Loyalist petitions typically fail to sway such internal analysis. These chains likely ran the numbers and found the hassle of preparing French toast sticks stopped making sense financially despite nostalgic fan support.

However, chains could potentially reintroduce French toast sticks as a limited time promotional item. This allows capitalizing on enthusiasm while avoiding permanent menu complications. McDonald’s briefly brought back French toast sticks in Hawaii in 2019 as a test, showing the concept isn’t dead. But systemwide permanent reinstatement looks doubtful based on the internal factors driving discontinuation. French toast stick loyalists probably shouldn’t hold their breath.

Other Breakfast Options Are Rising to Take Their Place

While fans pine for the golden days of fast food French toast sticks, new breakfast offerings are rapidly taking their place on menus. The popularity of breakfast sandwiches continues to grow. McDonald’s now heavily promotes its Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit and other sandwich combos. They also expanded into premium coffee drinks with the McCafé line.

Burger King pivoted from French toast sticks to push its Croissan’wich sandwiches, coffee and other beverages. Jack in the Box highlights diverse breakfast sandwiches and bowls following its stick removal. Sonic advertises handmade breakfast burritos and biscuit options rather than the discontinued sticks.

The replacements show fast food breakfast diversifying beyond French toast sticks into both portable sandwiches and higher margin beverages. Chains are chasing latest trends like drive-thru coffee bars and breakfast bowls while still offering classics like breakfast biscuits. Customization and variety now trump a simplistic fried stick.

These new priorities reflect fast food chains evolving to attract a changing customer base. The pressures driving sticks off menus will likely prevent most from returning. Nostalgic fans will either have to accept the loss or seek out the few regional holdouts still serving French toast sticks.

Alternatives for Finding French Toast Sticks Today

Despite the vanishing fast food supply, some options exist for those craving the taste of French toast sticks:

Dairy Queen – As mentioned, Dairy Queen still lists French toast sticks on its national menu. Locations with grill availability should carry them unless supply issues occur. Dairy Queen’s sticks come with a side of syrup.

Hardee’s – Also still serving French toast sticks, Hardee’s offers them in combo meals paired with hash rounds or breakfast sandwiches in certain regions. Sticks come with a choice of condiment.

Homemade – People can recreate French toast sticks at home with just bread, eggs, milk and cinnamon. Cut bread into strips, coat in mixture, then fry or bake briefly until crispy on the outside. Add syrup or powdered sugar on top.

Specialty frozen sticks – Brands like Van’s and Nature’s Path sell boxed frozen French toast sticks prepared and ready to heat. These recreate the restaurant experience with less effort.

Sit-down dining – While disappearing at fast food chains, French toast sticks remain a staple at family diners and casual sit-down breakfast spots. These provide an indulgent restaurant experience.

So despite the pullback at McDonald’s, Burger King and others, plenty of ways exist to still enjoy French toast sticks. And there’s always a chance limited time comebacks or specialty LTOs at major chains could come in the future. But permanent nationwide availability remains unlikely on the horizon.

The Bottom Line on French Toast Sticks

French toast sticks rose to fast food fame in the 80s and 90s as chains rapidly adopted the popular breakfast offering. But in the last 5 years or so, major players like McDonald’s and Burger King have removed the once iconic menu item. Declining interest, high labor costs, new priorities and health perceptions likely triggered dropping sticks.

Devoted fans continue to voice frustration online, demanding the return of their beloved French toast sticks through petitions and complaints. However, corporate decisions seem firmly made, and social media campaigns rarely reverse them. The operational factors that necessitated axing sticks remain in place for most chains.

While French toast sticks endure regionally at some chains like Hardee’s, the trend points to this menu item fading from its fast food glory days. Fans feeling nostalgic may have to settle for alternatives from sit-down restaurants, pre-made frozen sticks or homemade versions. But the outcry shows just how deeply ingrained the sticky breakfast treat remains in the hearts of many fast food patrons.

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