Sandwich made breakfast a feature for fast-food chain
Six McDonald’s restaurants in Santa Barbara and Goleta paid tribute to their former owner and Egg McMuffin creator Herb Peterson on Tuesday, offering their customers the famous breakfast sandwich for $2 each.
Over the past 10 years, Herb Peterson Day has become a tradition to celebrate the life of the local franchisee, who died in 2008. Jan. 5 marked Herb Peterson’s 99th birthday.
His son, David Peterson, owns two McDonald’s restaurants in Goleta and owned the four in Santa Barbara for many years before selling them in 2017.
The News-Press met up with Mr. Peterson at the McDonald’s on Fairview Avenue on Tuesday morning.
David said his father wanted the Egg McMuffin to be even cheaper than $2 on his birthday.
“He had always asked me, ‘Hey, on my birthday … give Egg McMuffins out for free.’ Well, we’ve kind of changed it a little bit.” he said.
Herb Peterson created the Egg McMuffin in 1972, conceiving it as a “handheld eggs Benedict.”
Originally called the “Fast Break Breakfast,” it switched to its current, classic name when Nabisco went national with a product named Fast Break.
According to David Peterson, McDonald’s founder Ray Crock visited the upper State Street location, where Herb Peterson greeted him in a chef’s outfit and offered him his new sandwich. Mr. Crock was completely taken with it.
“Ray had 10 of them, literally 10 of them,” David said. “He said, ‘These are amazing,’ and about six months later my dad went back to Chicago, presented to the board of directors, and it went national.”
Mr. Peterson told the News-Press that the Egg McMuffin founder loved Santa Barbara and Goleta, and that the event isn’t just to honor him, but “a fun way to say ‘thank you’ to our community.”
Profits from Herb Peterson Day will be given to The Unity Shoppe and Bucket Brigade.
“The Bucket Brigade is kind of new to our wheelhouse, because they’ve done such an amazing job. The Unity Shoppe has for 45 years been a really special charity to my family,” Mr. Peterson said.
The News-Press stopped off a few McDonald’s locations to meet Santa Barbara and Goleta senior citizens who visit McDonald’s in the morning of not just Herb Peterson Day, but every day.
While some at the various locations had Egg McMuffins, the big draw among them seemed to be the coffee. That was the case for Goleta residents Steve Ozab, Teri Huestis, and Dana Bucey, who spend about an hour at the Fairview Ave location most mornings.
“The coffee is the best ever, anywhere,” Mr. Bucey said.
Mr. Ozab and Mr. Bucey have gone to the Fairview McDonald’s daily for 10 years to play online poker on their iPads. They met Ms. Huestis through a mutual friend and have continued their McDonald’s hour for the past year.
The three shared memories from years before frequenting the location together.
Mr. Ozab recalled arriving at the McDonalds at its old opening time of 10:30 a.m., something he said changed due to the work of Herb Peterson.
“He totally changed breakfast with fast food because, 10:30, used to be their opening time. … Changed it. Now it’s 24-7,” he said.
Ms. Huestis recalled how the McDonald’s on Fairview was her “hangout when leaving the bar at 2:30 in the morning.”
Jim Brandt and Rudy McIntosh of Santa Barbara are everyday customers at the upper State Street McDonald’s, even sitting at a table with a “reserved” sign. Mr. McIntosh said he enjoys “meeting with the guys,” who include Mr. Brandt and several other men from the church they attend, Bethany Congregational Church.
Mr. Brandt said he does more listening than talking during their get-togethers, since the others mainly discuss sports, which he doesn’t have an interest in. As for the coffee, he called it “better than what I can make at home.”
In the Santa Barbara location on Milpas Street, Santa Barbara residents Bob Handy and John Anderson spend almost every morning at the McDonald’s for “camaraderie and coffee.”
Along with four other men, they have good-natured conversations about everything from local events to politics. They also spend a considerable amount of time mulling over the meaning of life. When asked if they’ve come to any conclusions on it, they gave different answers.
Mr. Handy said, “Keep breathing, don’t stop.”
Mr. Anderson said, “As long as you’re content, everything is OK.”