Not Just Another Breakfast Sandwich

Ethnic-style handhelds, stuffed varieties and big flavors are on trend

The ubiquitous breakfast sandwich has owned the morning for years. Whether in a c-store or limited-service restaurant, the egg, cheese and meat build has stood the test of time.

But innovation marches on.

The breakfast daypart is at peak popularity, and breakfast sandwiches are king. Fifty-five percent of c-store consumers purchase breakfast from a c-store at least once a month, and 51% of those consumers say that they choose breakfast sandwiches when they’re there, according to Chicago-based Technomic’s most recent C-Store MarketBrief data.

As c-stores explore new options to meet this demand, some distinct flavor and preparation trends are emerging.

Globally inspired fare is worth watching. Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif., has added a new breakfast handheld to its El Monterey line. The Breakfast Empanada features a light, flaky pastry crust filled with egg, sausage, cheese and potato. The item takes its inspiration from traditional Latin American cuisine—a plus for the 55% of consumers who say they want c-stores to offer more ethnic foods and flavors for breakfast.

Empanadas also capitalize on the move toward filled grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches. Sheboygan Falls, Wis.-based Johnsonville has a new Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit that is stuffed with scrambled eggs, Johnsonville sausage and mild cheddar cheese.

There’s also Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Convenience’s new Bosco Stuffed Breadsticks—a maple-cheddar topped breadstick filled with scrambled egg and cheese. The item can also be positioned as an all-day snack offering, with varieties such as Cheese & Turkey Ham. The all-day positioning meets the needs of the 39% of c-store consumers who choose breakfast sandwiches and wraps as snacks throughout the day.

Retailers and manufacturers are working to promote breakfast handhelds that layer on flavor in different ways. The Day’n Night Bites Donut Breakfast Sandwich from Land Mark Products, Milford, Iowa, features egg, sausage and cheese between a cake doughnut. And Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based QuickChek focuses on bread as the flavor platform with its new Honey Butter Biscuit line of sandwiches.

Such flavor spins should be well-received: More than two-thirds of consumers (67%) are looking for c-stores to offer more unique flavors for breakfast items. The ideas are there; it’s up to the company to determine what’s right for its consumer base.