It's a dog-eat-dog world.
Starting Monday, McDonald's will bring back Johnsonville Brats to 125 restaurants in the Milwaukee area. The bratwurst's limited-time return to the burger joint coincides with Burger King's recent addition of grilled hot dogs to its menu.
Seven years after discontinuing the sausages, the Golden Arches will serve its bratwursts in a bun with ketchup and mustard.
"We continue to provide our customers with regional innovations that taste great and meet their expectations," McDonald's said in a statement.
Burger King declined to comment about McDonald's menu expansion. But the largest U.S. Burger King franchisee, Carrols Restaurant Group, said the chains' hot dogs are selling like hot cakes.
"We are selling between 80 and 120 grilled hot dogs per store per day with no advertising yet," Carrolls Chairman and CEO Dan Accordino said on a March 3 earnings call.
McDonald's latest menu addition doesn't necessarily signal the start of the hot dog wars, according to Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst with NPD Group.
"They are two different consumers," she said, explaining that McDonald's limited time bratwurst offering in Wisconsin caters to a different regional demographic than Burger King's grilled dogs.
Fast food joints have long been competing to drive traffic in an industry that isn't growing very quickly. Riggs noted that the restaurant industry is highly saturated, and chains like McDonald's and Burger King are seeing increased competition from rival brands, convenience stores, grocery stores and online vendors like Blue Apron.
"The only way to grow your business is through building loyalty," Riggs said.