June 6, 2013 at 12:44 PM ET
McDonald's wants its customers to eat more -- day or night, home or abroad.
If you're a night owl, you can now get pancakes or hash browns to go with your Big Mac.
And if you live in Japan, how about the Mega Potato? A serving twice as big as the large fries it already serves and at a belt-busting 1,142 calories, big enough to satisfy a Sumo wrestler.
The new offerings at McD's come as the world's biggest hamburger chain is trying to drum up more business after a string of disappointing monthly sales blamed on higher beef prices, penny-pinching consumers and intense competition.
McDonald's global same-store sales -- sales at stores open at least 13 months -- fell in January for the first time in nine years. The decline has continued as the global economy remains sluggish and competition has heated up from fast-food rivals such as Burger King and Wendy's.
Although revenue in the first quarter of this year was $6.61 billion -- up from $6.55 billion a year earlier -- sales at established stores across the globe fell 1 percent.
Hence the changes to get more hungry people coming into the famous Golden Arches.
Starting this month, the company said participating 24-hour restaurants in the United States will offer an "After Midnight" menu that includes some breakfast favorites. Customers also will be able to mix items to create "Midnight Value Meals," with either fries or hash browns as their sides, McDonald's said in a statement.
The company says the "After Midnight" menu is already available in North Delaware, Del., and College Station, Texas.
“Our customers want convenience around the clock, and we’re making it easier to eat at McDonald’s with more 24-hour restaurants open than ever before," said McDonald's spokeswoman Ofelia Casillas.
Meanwhile, in Japan, where the company already sells a Gracoro Burger, which contains a deep-fried patty made from macaroni, shrimp and white sauce, now comes the "Mega Potato."
At 1,142 calories – more than two Big Macs -- the giant package of fries costs 490 yen ($4.89) compared with 300 yen for the standard large-sized serving.
But the company was quick to note that the item is not meant for a single diner, but is for eating family-style. "This is a shareable menu item for families," Becca Hary, McDonald's manager for global media relations told NBC News in an e-mail.
"As you can see from the picture on their web site, four people are sharing this menu item," said Hary, noting McDonald's has many unique offerings around the world based on the tastes and preferences customers in particular countries.
Hary did not say whether the company had considered offering the Mega Potato in North America or Europe too.
In another campaign aimed at boosting consumption, McDonald’s Japan gave away red and yellow plastic French Fries holders for cars – all part of a campaign to establish its “core” menu in the consciousness of Japanese consumers.
In April, McDonald's executives urged patience on behalf of investors. While analysts -- and even some of McDonald's franchisees -- have questioned the company's plan to cut some prices and focus on cheaper menu items as a means to attract more customers.
An example of the company's strategy was its recent decision to do away with the $6 Third Pounder Angus steak burger. Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic, a market research firm, told CNBC the move "came down to wanting to give consumers more options and a burger that's less expensive.
"For most consumers, McDonald's price point makes McDonald's relevant," Tristano said. "When you start to get to that 7- or 8-dollar range, which is what an Angus burger, french fries and a beverage cost, you start to get outside of that."
The Associated Press and CNBC contributed to this report.