McDonald’s Takes on Starbucks With Holiday Drinks

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – McDonald’s has thrown down the gauntlet – the peppermint gauntlet, that is.

The fast food chain introduced a new offering in its McCafe line of coffees today, and there’s a clear infusion of holiday cheer. The two new beverages are Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate, which will be available now through Jan. 2.

Wait, Christmas-themed beverages available during the holiday season? Isn’t that Starbucks’ (Stock Quote: SBUX) turf?

Indeed it is. The coffee giant has long staked a claim as the king of seasonal beverages, with pumpkin lattes in the fall and the likes of eggnog lattes and, yes, peppermint mochas in the winter. It’s gotten some company in recent years from Dunkin’ Donuts’  (Stock Quote: DNKN) gingerbread-heavy drink menu, but this is McDonald’s (Stock Quote: MCD)  first foray into the holiday game.

“This is not a direct attack on Starbucks, as this is a big [market] segment,” says Ron Paul, president of food industry consultancy Technomic. “Plus, it’s always good to create excitement ahead of the holiday season.”

Indeed, the move isn’t surprising. McDonald’s and Starbucks have been in a full-blown coffee turf war since 2008, when the burger chain started getting serious about coffee with the rollout of its McCafe line. While Starbucks still has more extensive offerings – both in its general menu and its holiday-specific lineup – this is yet another sign that McDonald’s is eager to compete for coffee dollars in every way.