McDonald’s Tries to Win Back Customers by Partnering With Krispy Kreme

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 07, 2024

McDonald’s is one of the most popular fast-food chains in America. With more than 13,000 restaurants, the company has become wildly successful since its first location opened in 1940.

However, McDonald’s closed 200 of its restaurants last year, and some wonder if the super-chain is struggling more than it’s letting on. To support this theory, McDonald’s just made a surprising announcement: They are now working with Krispy Kreme to sell its fresh doughnuts during breakfast by 2026.

Is McDonald’s Struggling?

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the American economy hard; thousands of stores, both corporate-run and family-owned, closed forever.

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Exterior of a McDonald’s restaurant including a McCafe

Source: iStock

Fast food chains saw a significant drop in sales, and subsequently, hundreds of locations were closed. McDonald’s wasn’t spared, and the mega-chain had closed 200 of its stores by the end of 2023. However, according to the stock market, McDonald’s is still making immense profits for itself and its shareholders, just as it always has.

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McDonald’s Is Famous for Its Consistency

One of the reasons McDonald’s has stayed so consistently profitable for nearly 100 years is its incredible consistency in its products. From French fries to a Big Mac, apple pie, or a McFlurry, anywhere in the world, McDonald’s tastes like McDonald’s.

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Customers order at a McDonald’s counter in a food court

Source: Deposit Photos

Additionally, while McDonald’s occasionally adds specialty or seasonal items, the general menu has remained the same for decades. The biggest change the company made was in 1972, when it introduced the now-beloved breakfast menu.

America Loves McDonald’s for Breakfast

While the schedule can change depending on the store, most McDonald’s locations serve breakfast until 10:30 AM or 11:00 AM, and there are fans who race against the clock to make sure they get a Sausage McMuffin or fluffy pancakes in the morning.

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McDonald’s breakfast, including sausage patties, pancakes, and hashbrowns

Source: @WilsonEatsASMR/YouTube

According to Forbes, breakfast sales account for a whopping 24% of McDonald’s total sales in the USA. In 2021, that was $2.2 billion. So, it’s safe to say that breakfast isn’t just important to McDonald’s customers but also to the success of the business itself.

Ramping Up the Breakfast Menu

Because breakfast is so lucrative, McDonald’s seems to have devised a new plan to ensure that morning sales don’t just remain stagnant but actually increase in the coming years.

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Freshly baked Krispy Kreme doughnuts on a conveyor belt

Source: @KrispyKremeWinchester/Facebook

And it’s not just a specialty menu item like cinnamon pancakes, but an entirely new partnership with the one and only Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

The Rich History of Krispy Kreme

In 1937, Vernon Rudolph began selling his homemade doughnuts to local grocery stores in North Carolina. By the 1960s, Rudolph’s company, Krispy Kreme, had expanded and had its own stores all over the country.

One of the first Krispy Kreme Doughnuts stores in the 1950s with a line around the block

Source: Krispy Kreme

The Krispy Kreme formula was simple. Rudolph created a factory that made the perfect doughnut mix, which was then delivered to the stores so that the one-of-a-kind Krispy Kreme doughnuts could be baked fresh every morning.

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Krispy Kreme Is Considered an American Delicacy

As of March 2024, there are 357 Krispy Kreme locations throughout the US, which is quite a small number compared to most other restaurant chains (such as Dunkin’, which has 9,593.)

A Krispy Kreme location in the United States

Source: Wikipedia

However, the few locations actually add to making Krispy Kreme feel special to Americans. Not everyone can get one every day, but whenever you see a Krispy Kreme store, you pull over immediately to stock up.

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A Match Made in Heaven

With more than 13,000 restaurants around the country, McDonald’s definitely has a far wider reach than Krispy Kreme. But Krispy Kreme has something that McDonald’s has never had – an air of exclusivity.

A customer receives their food in the drive-thru at a McDonald’s restaurant

Source: Dreamstime

Now it seems that McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme’s senior management realized that while they’ve found both success, they could be truly unstoppable together.

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The Big Announcement

On March 26, 2024, McDonald’s announced that starting this year, hundreds of McDonald’s locations around the country will serve freshly baked Krispy Kreme doughnuts during breakfast and throughout the day.

Two businessmen shake hands over a wooden table

Source: Freepik

They first tested the partnership in Kentucky by offering Krispy Kreme doughnuts at 160 McDonald’s locations. And according to the announcement, “consumer excitement and demand exceeded expectations.” Now, they say all participating restaurants will be serving the sweet treats by the end of 2026.

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Will McDonald’s Be Making the Doughnuts?

The announcement specified that McDonald’s restaurants will not be in charge of making the delicious doughnuts every day. Instead, they will be delivered fresh by Krispy Kreme. Which means there is a limited supply at every location each day.

A box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in various flavors

Source: KrispyKreme

It also noted that the Original Glazed, Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles, and the Chocolate Iced Kreme Filled flavors will be sold individually, as well as in the classic 6-doughnut box.

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Krispy Kreme Is Extremely Excited About the Partnership

Krispy Kreme President and CEO Josh Charlesworth told Businesswire that he and the company are absolutely thrilled about the new partnership.

President and CEO of Krispy Kreme, Josh Charlesworth

Source: KrispyKreme

He said, “The top request we receive from consumers, every day, is, ‘Please bring Krispy Kreme to my town.’ Partnering with McDonald’s on a national scale will provide our fans and doughnut lovers unprecedented daily access to fresh doughnuts and the joy that is Krispy Kreme.”

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A Win-Win for McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme

In business, it’s quite rare that a partnership benefits both parties in the same way. But in this case, it really is a win-win. Krispy Kreme gets thousands of new locations to sell its doughnuts, and McDonald’s gets a new reason for potential customers to visit its many restaurants.

A hand holding a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut/Hand holding two McCafe coffees

Source: @KrispyKremeDoughnuts/Facebook/Shutterstock

McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme both expect to see a significant increase in profits over the next few years, thanks to this deal. But let’s not forget that this partnership is also quite the win for Americans who would love Krispy Kreme doughnuts alongside their McDonald’s coffee. 

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