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"It's still just an egg, but there's much more culinary expertise to it now," says Hollander.

Panera previously used fresh eggs but placed them in the quick-serve industry's ubiquitous rings to get that perfect circular shape meant for sandwiches. McDonald's cracks eggs into such rings for cooking.

While Panera's marketing isn't calling out competitors by name, it says it reviewed products at chains including Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks and Taco Bell.

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