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McDonald's begins all-day breakfast Tuesday

CHICAGO -- Come Tuesday, red-blooded Americans will be able to buy McDonald's breakfast throughout the day and night.

You want pancakes for dinner? Done. Afternoon Egg McMuffin? Nothing can stop you now.

While all-day breakfast was available early in some locations, its long-awaited official rollout nationwide is intended to help boost sales for the slumping fast-food giant. Approved by franchisee leadership last month, the move is perhaps the highest-profile component yet revealed of CEO Steve Easterbrook's plan to reinvigorate the Chicago-area company.

Time will tell if the hype translates into significant improvement in sales or profits for the Golden Arches, which has struggled in recent years as more consumers opt for fast-casual options like Chipotle and Panera Bread.

But there's this: Americans' appetite for quick breakfast foods is growing, according to research.

Year-over-year, breakfast visits grew by 5 percent in the 12 months that ended in June, according to a study released Monday by market research firm NPD Group. By comparison, lunch visits were up 1 percent and dinner visits were flat.

Most of those breakfast gains were made at quick-service restaurants, like McDonald's, according to NPD. Sales of grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches have been growing, but so have other "not-so-portable" foods like pancakes.

There's bad news here if you're a pig -- case shipments of bacon delivered to restaurants and other food service outlets increased by 7 percent for the same period, the study found, and case shipments of eggs were up 5 percent.

With all-day breakfast served at more than 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the U.S., some industry experts have said the increased demand of the nation's egg supply, already constrained by the devastating avian influenza outbreak earlier this year, could lead to increased egg prices at the grocery store.

But for those consumers who've been asking for all-day breakfast for years, Tuesday bears only tidings of great joy and some extra calories.

Despite the expanded menu, no biscuit items will be sold after 10:30 a.m. in the Chicago area, which has been deemed a McMuffin market rather than a biscuit market.

About 80 percent of the markets will sell McMuffins after regular breakfast hours and the rest, mostly in the South, will sell biscuits, according to a McDonald's spokeswoman.

The limited menu for all-day breakfast will include McMuffins, hotcakes, sausage burritos, fruit and yogurt parfaits, oatmeal and hash browns.

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