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McDonald's Comes Out Swinging, To Counter Taco Bell Breakfast Offerings

McDonald's Comes Out Swinging, To Counter Taco Bell Breakfast Offerings
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Fast food king McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) is fighting back against Taco Bell’s well-publicized launch into the $50 billion breakfast market in at least two ways.

First, the company tweeted a photo of Ronald McDonald petting a Chihuahua -- the Taco Bell mascot -- with the caption, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Then, in response to Yum Brands' (NYSE: YUM) clever commercial -- in which 25 men named Ronald McDonald announce their affection for Taco Bell’s new breakfast -- McDonald’s tweeted, "Breaking! Mayor McCheese confirms: Ronald, in fact, still prefers McDonald's."

Related: Has McDonald's Become Irrelevant?

Finally, McDonald's decided to go after its customers’ desire for a morning caffeine fix by announcing free McCafe coffee during breakfast hours from March 31 through April 13.

That’s not all. McDonald’s, which owns the breakfast space with about 25 percent market share, said the free coffee was just the first volley in a food war the company apparently takes very seriously.

Future plans, the company said, included live musical performances and “spontaneous comedy experiences” at multiple cities across America.

McDonald’s free coffee promotion came just two weeks after the company announced U.S. sales decreased 1.4 percent in February.

Taco Bell’s entry into the breakfast arena came about, in part, the company said, based on requests from customers. Taco Bell president, Brian Niccol told USA Today, "Our customers have asked us to do breakfast because there's a sea of sameness in breakfast sandwiches."

Taco Bell’s new breakfast options include a Waffle Taco, A.M. Crunchwrap, a breakfast tortilla consisting of scrambled eggs, hash browns, along with cheese and bacon or sausage, and a breakfast dessert called Cinnabon Delights.

McDonald's has tried, of late, to adapt to what it called "challenging industry dynamics" with new options like egg whites in breakfast sandwiches -- and the addition of chicken McWraps as an appeal to customers who want healthier food offerings.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.

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