From McMuffins to McLattes

Replacing the Kitchen Table

America the prosperous also started its love affair with supersized everything: bigger cars, bigger houses, and bigger sandwiches.

In 1968, McDonald's operator Jim Deligadi developed the Big Mac sandwich, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary. In the 70s, McDonald's introduced the Happy Meal right around the time more mothers started trying to "have it all," trying to juggle career and family.

Mom could maybe take a day a week out of the kitchen, and with suburban husbands commuting longer distances to work, the leisurely family breakfast was a thing of the past.

In 1975, McDonald's introduced its full breakfast line, including the Egg McMuffin.

Today, McDonald's is banking on the coffee spot as a living room/home office trend. This plays right into an era when commuting in cars is giving way to telecommuting via laptop, and coffee at Starbucks has replaced the old kitchen table coffee klatch.

But so far, it's hard to tell whether this is what Americans really want from their number one fast food place.

Maybe it's just that the word's not out yet, but business was pretty slow the day we visited. No one was taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. We did, however, find regulars Sandy and John Weber, who come for coffee five days a week.

"It's not as good as Dunkin' Donuts, but ... it's close," John said.

Sandy likes the cappuccino, and the new interior design. "It's just more comfortable," she said.

As for comparing McDonald's and Starbucks? "Don't care for Starbucks," John said. He says the coffee there is too strong for his taste, and it's much more expensive.

There's a saying in the fast food business: don't take your eyes off the fries. So, don't be surprised if you order a large non-fat cappuccino and they ask if you'd like fries with that.

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