How McDonald’s new Doughnut Sticks stack up next to Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries

McDonald’s Doughnut Sticks (left) and Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries. Meredith Cash/INSIDER

With its latest breakfast addition, McDonald’s is hoping to make mornings a little sweeter.

On Wednesday, February 20, the chain rolled out “Doughnut Sticks” nationwide. McDonald’s is offering the sugary, fried treats through its McCafé brand and intends for customers to pair them with premium roast coffees or other hot beverages.

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“Because doughnuts and coffee are a ‘perfect pair,’ we’re excited to announce McCafé Doughnut Sticks this week as a little sweet to go with our premium roast McCafé coffee,” a spokesperson for the company told INSIDER. “For a limited time, customers can enjoy the delicious combo of Doughnut Sticks and McCafé coffee during breakfast hours at participating restaurants nationwide.”

When McDonald’s first announced the product, the deep-fried, golden-brown dough sticks immediately drew comparisons to Dunkin’s “Doughnut Fries” and Burger King’s “Funnel Cake Fries.” Although the Doughnut Fries were available for a short time during the summer of 2018,Dunkin’ Brands CEO David Hoffman said the snacks “quickly became one of the best-performing limited-time offer bakery items in recent brand history.”

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I tried McDonald’s new product to see how it stacks up to Burger King’s version

McDonald’s gives you multiple options when purchasing the breakfast snack. Available on McDonald’s breakfast menu until 10:30 a.m., you can order half a dozen Doughnut Sticks for a recommended price of $US1.29, a full dozen for $US2.39, or a combination of six sticks and a small coffee for $US1.99, per Business Insider’s Kate Taylor.

I opted for six and waited as McDonald’s prepared a fresh batch of Doughnut Sticks. Before calling my number, one employee poured what looked to be a generous amount of cinnamon sugar on top of my Doughnut Sticks and shook the bag they were in to cover each stick with a sweet top coat.

Doughnut Sticks
McDonald’s Doughnut Sticks. Meredith Cash / INSIDER

While McDonald’s offers its Doughnut Sticks in varying quantities, Burger King serves one size of the Funnel Cake Fries. I walked away with nine fries, which cost $US2.29 at the Burger King location I visited.

And while McDonald’s Doughnut Sticks are served for breakfast, Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries don’t seem to be intended as a breakfast snack.

BK funnel cake fries
Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries. Meredith Cash / INSIDER

The Doughnut Sticks and Funnel Cake Fries I bought looked different from one another

Doughnut fries
McDonald’s Doughnut Sticks (left) and Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries had pretty different shapes. Meredith Cash / INSIDER

McDonald’s sticks varied in size and shape and were lighter in colour than Burger King’s fries. The sticks looked fluffy and somewhat flaky under their cinnamon sugar coating, while the fries much more closely resembled their potato-based counterparts, albeit darker in colour and with a powdered sugar dusting.

McDonald’s sticks were also bigger than Burger King’s fries, with roughly two Funnel Cake Fries equaling the thickness of a single Doughnut Stick.

Doughnut fries
The Funnel Cake Fries are thinner than the Doughnut Sticks. Meredith Cash / INSIDER

In my opinion, the Doughnut Sticks didn’t quite taste like a doughnut

The McDonald’s Doughnut Sticks smelled liked a classic doughnut, but, when I bit into one, I thought it was a bit flakier, airier, and chewier than a typical doughnut.

McDonald's Doughnut Stick
Going in! Shivani Gonzalez / INSIDER

While the cinnamon sugar coating resembled the flavoring of a classic cider doughnut, to me, the texture of the Doughnut Sticks reminded me more of a croissant. I imagined that, if dipped in coffee or another hot beverage, the Doughnut Sticks might disintegrate almost instantly.

Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries were true to their name

In my opinion, these didn’t really taste like a traditional doughnut, either. Instead, Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries tasted fairly close to the classic carnival snack. They were much sweeter and boasted less cinnamon than McDonald’s sticks, and I thought the instant sweetness of the powdered sugar combined with the crunch of the fried dough really worked well.

BK's Funnel Cake Fries
The Doughnut Sticks were flakier, airier, and chewier than a typical doughnut. Shivani Gonzalez / INSIDER

Some of my colleagues also tried the two treats

Business Insider asset management reporter Meghan Morris preferred Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries to McDonald’s Doughnut Sticks.

“The Burger King fries taste closer to a churro in a positive way,” she said.

Kara Chin, a producer of Business Insider Today, agreed.

“The Burger King [Funnel Cake Fries] were much crispier versus the soggier McDonald’s [Doughnut Sticks],” Chin said. “The McDonald’s ones were more doughy and tasted like a cross between a zeppole and a doughnut.”

Chin also had the opportunity to taste Dunkin’s Doughnut Fries when they were available on the market. She said that, in her opinion, they more closely resembled the McDonald’s Doughnut Sticks than the Burger King Funnel Cake Fries, but that none of the three were exactly alike.

Business Insider’s senior health reporter Emma Court was the only taste tester who preferred the McDonald’s option.

Overall, in my opinion, the Doughnut Sticks didn’t seem like a breakfast food, but more of a dessert. And some of us thought that the Doughnut Sticks and Funnel Cake Fries could have used a dipping sauce.

These snacks were small but mighty. In my experience, both were heavier and oilier than a traditional doughnut or breakfast pastry, so it was a bit much for many of us to eat at the start of the work day. Don’t get me wrong – they were undoubtedly delicious, but, to me, they seemed like more of a dessert or festival snack than an early-morning pick-me-up. (Granted, unlike McDonald’s Doughnut Sticks, Burger King’s Funnel Cake Fries aren’t served as a breakfast item.)

With that in mind, many of us who tried the two treats thought that adding a little something extra could transform both the Doughnut Sticks and Funnel Cake Fries into fan favourites. Multiple people inquired about whether or not either product came with a dipping sauce, and there was a general consensus that a chocolate or frosting-based dipping sauce would pair nicely with the snacks.