McDonald's new all-day breakfast undermines the pleasure of the Egg McMuffin

Writing in The Atlantic upon the announcement of McDondald’s all-day breakfast, Adam Chandler lamented the violation of well-established ritual. The 24/7 work world turns “morning” into “that time after whenever you woke up,” and all-day breakfast at McDonald’s only spreads a new layer of oil atop an already greasy period of precarity and overwork. “In demanding eternal breakfast,” Chandler mourns, “America is reverting to its adolescence.”

Perhaps so. But also, America is giving up McDonald’s breakfast as an indulgence meant mostly to be missed rather than savored. The Egg McMuffin and its brethren offered different sustenance—spiritual sustenance. Under the fluorescent lights inside its boxy chapel one discovered and not just endured but enjoyed the sensation of inaccessibility. Light door closing on its pneumatic hinge, coat unzipped, cold hands rubbing together, glasses fogging from the temperature change, accidental early birds enter McDonald’s for the anticipation itself. It might be on the way to or from a long drive or a dead-end job or a screaming child or a fouled-up marriage, but a dip into the quick-serve cathedral affirms that the universe is ultimately indifferent: “I’m sorry, sir, we’ve just stopped serving breakfast.”