Elaine Benes was a woman ahead of her time in so many ways. The latest example: She foretold the coming of McDonald’s new breakfast menu item, Muffin Toppers, in a Seinfeld episode 21 years ago. Muffin Toppers, for those not in the know, are the top halves of muffins detached from their softer bases. Or, as Benes put it: “It’s crunchy; it’s explosive; it’s where the muffin breaks free of the pan and sort of does its own thing. … That’s a million-dollar idea right there.”
It could be. Nation’s Restaurant News reports McDonald’s will roll out three flavors of Muffin Toppers—lemon poppy seed, blueberry, and double chocolate—to its redesigned Experience of the Future locations, which represent about a quarter of its overall restaurants. The Muffin Toppers debuted in Baltimore alongside other “elevated” McCafé menu choices like coffee cake and lattice-topped apple pie. An industry analyst tells NRN that the move is probably McDonald’s way of competing with the popularity of baked goods at chains like Starbucks and Panera.
For his part, Seinfeld writer Spike Feresten Jr., asks “What took so long?” in this video posted to TMZ’s YouTube channel. “First I’d like to say directly to McDonald’s: You need to use the slogan. If you’re going to take the Muffin Tops episode, you’ve got to use our slogan, which is ‘Top of the muffin… to you!’”
I can attest to the greatness of muffin tops—the pastry, that is. (I mean, I like a good muffin-topped dad bod, too, but that’s a separate article.) My high school served gigantic breakfast muffins in the cafeteria, and I, like my most of my compatriots, found the slightly-crisp, sugar-laden tops superior to the squishy, crumby bottom halves. (Elaine calls them “stumps.”) Luckily, I was friends with a true unicorn: a girl who preferred the inferior bottom muffin half. Her willingness to literally go halvsies on breakfast muffins more than made up for any of her less admirable qualities; if McDonald’s can harness that powerful of a breakfast food, it will surely be a million-dollar idea as Elaine predicted.