Chicken McNuggets (introduced in 1983) are a fast food product offered by the restaurant chain McDonald's. They popularized the chicken nugget, which had been invented in the 1950s, and are one of the most popular trademarked items on the McDonald's menu.
McNuggets, as they are commonly known, are small pieces of formed chicken that have been battered and deep fried. They are sold in packages of 4, 6, 10 (originally 9), 20 and 50 (4, 6, 9 and 20 in the United Kingdom). In New Zealand and Australia, they are also available in 3 packs in Happy Meals and Heart Foundation approved Tick healthy meals. They come with a choice of various flavors of dipping sauce.
The Chicken McNugget is a small piece of minced chicken breast and mechanically separated meat
held together with phosphate
salts and some chicken skin. The pieces are coated with batter, lightly fried to set the batter, individually quick frozen, packaged, and sent to stores. At the McDonald's stores, the McNuggets are deep-fried and sold. According to McDonald's, Chicken McNuggets are made entirely of "white meat
" as opposed to dark meat
McNuggets come in a variety of different shapes. The first of these shapes is "The Boot", named for its boot-like appearance. Another shape you are likely to encounter is "The Tombstone", again named for its tombstone-like appearance. The third shape is "The Circle". It must be noted that "The Circle" may have a slightly ovular appearance. The fourth and final shape is "The Arrowhead". "The Arrowhead" may be rounded, but it will have a distinct triangular edge. Certain shapes are more common than others. For example, if you were to open a 20 piece McNugget box, you can expect to find 10 boots, 4 tombstones, 4 circles, and 2 arrowheads. Thus, you have roughly a 50% chance of pulling a boot, 20% chance of pulling a tombstone or circle, and a 10% chance of pulling an arrowhead.
Dipping sauce options
Sauces vary by market. The United States market offers Barbecue sauce
, Sweet n Sour
, and Hot Mustard
specifically for the McNuggets. Spicy Buffalo Sauce, Creamy Ranch
, Tangy Honey Mustard
and Southwestern Chipotle
barbecue sauce are offered for the Chicken Selects
but available upon request. Other markets offer some additional sauces as per market demographics. These sauces are not always in addition, but are sometimes substitutions for other sauces on the menu. Sauces such as the American Chipotle BBQ sauce do not translate to other countries, and as such the sauce is the same but renamed Smokey BBQ. At one point in the mid 80's-very early 90's teriyaki
was also offered. Other sauces available in different countries include crazy curry
, tomato basil
, sweet chili
, , garlic
, and jalapeño.
In November 2003, McDonald's switched to using all white meat for McNuggets instead of the traditional combination of white and dark meat. This was heavily promoted as an effort to improve the item's flavor. McDonald's state that they use mechanically separated
breast meat in the production of their McNuggets. A small amount of chicken skin is recovered with the breast meat.
At the same time that they stopped using dark meat, McDonald's announced that they were using less salt in the preparation of McNuggets. This was recognized as an attempt to make their products healthier. However, the sodium levels listed in McDonald's nutrition facts have actually increased: from 530 mg for 6 pieces between 2000–2002, to 670 mg for 2003–2005.
Chicken McNuggets vary from different countries. For example, in European countries a crumby breading is used, whereas in the North America the previously mentioned batter is used.
McNuggets Shanghai were a sales gimmick
used by the McDonald's
Corporation in 1986. They were accompanied by a pair of chopsticks
, a fortune cookie
and a choice of sweet and sour
, or hot mustard sauce.
McNuggets Shanghai were discontinued after only a few months, due to campaign failure. They are no longer available, although in the Summer of 1998
the McNuggets were packaged in Chinese food take-out boxes again to go along with their promotion of the Disney
animated movie Mulan
In 1988 "Fiesta" McNuggets were marketed, these were like McNuggets Shanghai in that nothing was different except for the packaging and a foreign/exotic gimmick, in this case Fiesta McNuggets came with a collectible "fiesta" coin. These also did not last long and were discontinued soon after.
In the McDonaldland series of advertisements, Chicken McNuggets were anthropomorphised as the McNugget Buddies, rounded nuggets with faces and voices who usually came in groups corresponding to the amounts available on a McDonald's menu, appearing in a McNugget box, lined up like eggs in a carton.
As of July, 2007, a McNuggets rap has been used by McDonalds. The video contains two young men, one of them beatboxing while the other does a freestyle rap about McNuggets. The young men in the video are Fernando Sosa (beatboxing) and Thomas Middleditch. The video was directed by Matt Malinsky. All three are improv actors in Chicago (Wrigley Field can be seen in the background). As of 3/1 2008 the commercial had not aired in Chicago, but run in a number of cities in the northeastern United States.
In 1984, James Oliver Huberty
killed 21 people and wounded 19 others at a McDonald's in San Ysidro
, in what became known as the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre
. Three years later, in 1987, his widow, Etna filed a USD$5
million lawsuit against McDonald's, claiming that the massacre was triggered by her husband's consumption of excessive amounts of Chicken McNuggets. She alleged that monosodium glutamate
from the food interacted with the lead
that had built up in Huberty's body after 14 years as a welder
. However, when it was discovered that Mrs. Huberty's claim was scientifically baseless, her attorney advised her to drop the charges.
The 2004 documentary Super Size Me alleged that McNuggets were, at one point in time, made from sick and/or old chickens unable to lay eggs, and that they included chemicals such as tertiary butylhydroquinone (a phenolic antioxidant), polydimethylsiloxane (an anti-foaming agent), and other ingredients not used by a typical home cook. As of 2007, these two ingredients are still listed as possible ingredients of the vegetable oil that is used to fry McNuggets. Eventually it was senior engineer Ivan Martinez that decided to make the nuggets with all white meat.
According to raw ingredients listing on the wholesale packaging of Chicken McNuggets, chicken breast accounts for less than 50% of the product.
Similar products sold by other QSR vendors:
- McDonald's South Africa, "Nuggets" retrieved from http://www.mcdonalds.co.za/background.html on 09-02-2007.
- McDonald's United States corporate website, Get the Nutrition Facts for a McDonald's Menu Item retrieved from http://app.mcdonalds.com/bagamcmeal?process=menuitems on 9-02-2007.
- McDonald's UK Corporate Website, "Fries and Dips" retrieved from http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ on 09-02-2007.