Burger King is trying to eat into McDonald's super-sized breakfast business, with a morning meal designed for kids.
Starting Monday, the Miami-based fast food company will offer an egg-and-cheese sandwich, apple slices, calcium-fortified apple juice and a toy for $3.38.
The new menu item comes at a time when McDonald's Corp. is being criticized for its Happy Meals. Health advocates have attacked McDonald's, saying toys offered with Happy Meals reinforce unhealthy eating among children. The fast food giant has noted that its children's menu includes healthy options, including white meat chicken nuggets and apple slices.
Burger King's kids' breakfast meal has 410 calories. McDonald's doesn't offer a kids' menu for breakfast, but its Happy Meals range from 390 to 700 calories, depending on the choices made. Burger King's meal choices for children range from 330 to 820 calories.
A Burger King spokeswoman declined to comment on the controversy of offering toys with kids' meals but said the company has pledged to advertise only healthier meal choices to children.
Breakfast has been a focal point for fast food this year, with chains launching or expanding morning menus. McDonald's $9-billion business, as estimated by industry research firm Technomic, makes it the leader in the $25-billion fast food breakfast market.
Subway entered the fray this spring with its own made-to-order breakfast sandwich. And McDonald's is planning a national rollout in January of an oatmeal breakfast.
Burger King has worked to chip away at McDonald's lead, making its own version of the Sausage McMuffin. This spring, TV ads depicted the company's king mascot stealing the recipe from McDonald's Illinois headquarters and riding off on a motor scooter.
It's been a tough year for Burger King, with sales falling faster than the rest of the restaurant industry. Last quarter, same-store sales in the U.S. and Canada fell 6%.