Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (2024)

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    Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (1)Michelle HainerUpdated: March 21, 2022

      Find out how heart attacks and onion snacks led to one of the chain's best-selling items ever.

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (2)

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      Everyone loves McDonald's chicken nuggets

      McDonald's chicken nuggets debuted in 1983 and diners have been clamoring for them ever since. Even Olympic athletes can't resist the appeal of these battered, deep-fried morsels. During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, gold medalist Usain Bolt estimated that he ate 1,000 chicken nuggets (for breakfast, lunch and dinner) during his ten-day stay because his stomach could not handle traditional Chinese food.

      And in May 2021, McDonald's chicken nuggets were part of a special BTS meal, a collaboration with the K-pop megastars that coincided with the release of the group's single "Butter." Diners could order the BTS meal – featuring new Sweet Chili and Cajun dips – at locations across the US (including this uniqueSedona McDonald's) as well as in ten other countries.

      In honor of the Mickey D's meal that gets almost as much love as the classicMcDonald's apple pie, we serve somefood facts factsabout one ofMcDonald's best selling itemsof all time.

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (3)

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      They were the solution to McDonald's red meat problem

      In the 1950s and 1960s, more Americans than ever were suffering from heart attacks, and doctors started using saturated fat and red meat (such ashamburgers) were at least partly to blame. But it wasn't until 1977 that the government released its dietary guidelines and encouraged Americans to eat less red meat. Bad news for a burger joint like McDonald's, whose most popular menu item is now reportedly killing people.

      To bring back consumers, the fast-food chain began working on chicken products to complete its beef-forward menuTime. The result: McDonald's chicken nuggets. And who better to formulate a recipe for the world's largest fast food chain than someone with royal experience? to help outMcDonalds-menuchange, the company tapped Rene Arend, a Luxembourg-born chef whose resume includes cooking dinner for Queen Elizabeth II and the King of Belgium.

      But even a chef with these qualifications couldn't be expected to create the perfect recipe on his first shot. His original idea was a fried chicken pot pie, but it failed the test. The team also tried fried chicken, but couldn't generate enough excitement as restaurants like KFC dominated the market. At the time, McDonald's all but abandoned its idea of ​​entering the poultry arena.

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (4)

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      They were almost like a piece of onion

      When poultry wasn't doing so well, McDonald's CEO Ray Kroc asked Arend to focus on a bite of onion rings — a piece of onion, if you will — with which he had much more success. They came onto the market in the 1970s, but McDonald's chairman Fred Turner really set his sights on the subject of chicken. “Why not a chicken nugget?” he is said to have told Arend when he met him in the hallway of the head office one morning.

      Inspired, Arend went back to the kitchen, cut up some chicken, breaded it and threw it in the deep fryer. The result was delicious and McDonald's chicken nuggets as we know them were born. As for that onion nugget, it just couldn't compete. Thatfailed McDonald's itemwas eventually removed from the menu.

      However, McDonald's chicken nuggets inspired another popular menu item: the McRib sandwich. In a 2009 interview, Arend said that when the fast-food chain first introduced the nuggets, they were such popular sellers that every franchise wanted to get their hands on them. At the time, McDonald's couldn't keep up with demand, so the chef created the McRib to give other franchises a new menu item — without the need for low-supply chicken.

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (5)

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      McDonald's chicken nuggets come in different shapes

      If you've ever looked at McDonald's chicken nuggets before devouring them, you may have noticed that they're not all identical. But you probably didn't know that there are four different shapes. And no, this is not the casesecret menus. They are out there in the open and they even have names. The "ball" is round, the "bone" looks like a rounded rectangle, the "boot" has a protruding edge, and the "bell" is diamond-like.

      The shapes came about when McDonald's partnered with Tyson Foods to meet the demand for poultry. The chicken meat in a nugget is ground and seasoned and mixed before being pressed into a mold into one of the four shapes mentioned above. This process allows the nuggets to cook evenly (and makes them more fun to eat).

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (6)


      They do not contain pink slime

      In 2012, a viral video of "pink slime" alerted the public to the existence of lean, fine-textured beef that many meat suppliers add to hamburger patties. It looks like pink goo and has been treated with ammonia hydroxide, which, while perfectly safe to eat, is not well received by the public.

      McDonald's condemned the video, claiming it was not a photo of the restaurant's food. But after customers demanded they remove the stuff from their burgers, the chain stopped using ammonia in all its products. So while the inside of a chicken nugget may look sticky during production – thanks to the process of grinding the meat into a paste-like substance that can be poured into molds – it does not contain ammonia.

      So-called pink mucus is often associated withsausage productionand is often confused with mechanically separated meat, which is created by a process of removing meat tissue from the bones of the animals. In 2003, McDonald's stopped using mechanically separated poultry in favor of white meat chicken.

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (7)

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      They are not as unhealthy as you might think

      You'll be happy to know that McDonald's chicken nuggets are made with USDA-inspected boneless white meat chicken, cut from chicken breasts, tenderloins and ribs, according to the chain. The company is transparent about its ingredients and lists them directly on its website. Along with white meat chicken, nuggets contain water, flour, cornmeal, vitamins, starch, lemon juice solids and various types of oil.

      A four-piece box of McDonald's chicken nuggets provides 170 calories, while a 40-piece box contains a whopping 1,770 calories. But considering the amount of food you get, it's not that far from other menu items. Here's a notable oneMcDonalds facts: Eating just one Double Bacon Smokehouse Burger will give you 1,130 calories. To pack less into your daily calorie intake, choose 6-, 10-, or 20-piece Chicken McNuggets—and skip themMcDonald's cola!

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (8)

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      You can sometimes order a spicy version

      In September 2020, McDonald's introduced Spicy Chicken Nuggets, coated in a tempura batter made with cayenne pepper and chili peppers. It was the first time McDonald's introduced a new chicken nugget flavor since the food's debut in 1983. They were served with Mighty Hot Sauce, a new dipping sauce made from crushed red pepper and chili that became McDonald's spiciest dips to date . To cool the taste buds of customers, the chain released a new one at the same timeMcFlurryflavour: Chips Ahoy, complete with caramel topping and pieces of Chips Ahoy cookies mixed in.

      McDonald's spicy nuggets were originally only available for a limited time, but they were so popular (tens of thousands of tweets were devoted to their deliciousness) that the company decided to bring them back for another limited run in February 2021. Unfortunately, the spicy nuggets are not yet on American menus this year.

      However, there may be hope for a new release of the American chicken nugget. In January 2022, the chain began selling a version of its new Peppercorn Garlic Spicy McNuggets at retail locations in Japan, complete with two limited-time dips, Garlic Soy Mayo and Smoked Cheese. American customers hope they will do the same with the state.

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (9)

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      McDonald's changed its nuggets

      In August 2016, McDonald's announced that it would remove artificial preservatives from its chicken nuggets, which also contain no artificial colors or flavors, and from the oil in which the nuggets are fried. This step was part of the chain's efforts to be more transparent about what is in its food.

      In addition, the company has also cleaned up the ingredient list and removed citric acid, chicken skin and thistle oil, said Becca Hary, a spokeswoman for the chain. Since 2016, McDonald's has used pea starch and rice starch, but the swap reportedly does not affect the taste of the nuggets. The company also pledged in March 2017 to use chicken that had not been "treated with antibiotics important to human medicine." Not only did McDonald's deliver on this promise, but it did so in July 2016, almost a year ahead of schedule.

      The meal may not win you any points when it comes to healthy eating, but the changes in 2016 might make you feelslightlyit is better to eat a 10 piece Chicken McNuggets,McDonald's pommes frites, InMcDonald's Sprite.

      Dips have changed

      One of the best parts of eating McDonald's chicken nuggets is dipping them in a fun sauce. Right now you can enjoy it with Spicy Barbecue, Spicy Buffalo, Creamy Ranch, Honey Mustard, Honey or Sweet and Sour sauces.

      At the time, you might have preferred to pair yours with discontinued options like Szechuan Teriyaki (in honor of Disney'sStart), Mesquite Barbecue or Zesty Italian – all discontinued optionsyou won't find it at McDonald's anymore. And don't forget the temporary dips: Mighty Hot Sauce for McDonald's spicy nuggets, Garlic Soy Sauce Mayo and Smoked Cheese for the Japanese Peppercorn Garlic Spicy McNuggets, and Sweet Chili and Cajun dip with the BTS Meal.

      Additional reporting by Marissa Laliberte.


      • NBC-sport: "Why Usain Bolt ate chicken nuggets for every meal at the Beijing Olympics"
      • USA today: "McDonald's BTS meal is available through June 20 with McNuggets and spicy dips"
      • Time: "Secrets of the Chicken Nugget: A Surprising History"
      • McDonald's: "Do you use so-called 'Pink Slime' or 'Pink Goop' in your Chicken McNuggets?"
      • McDonald's: "McDonald's USA announces big changes to its food"

      Originally published: March 9, 2022

      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets (2024)


      Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's Chicken Nuggets? ›

      Ingredients: White Boneless Chicken, Water, Vegetable Oil (canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Enriched Flour (bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Bleached Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Vegetable Starch (modified Corn, Wheat, Rice, Pea, ...

      What is actually in McDonald's chicken nuggets? ›

      Ingredients: White Boneless Chicken, Water, Vegetable Oil (canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Enriched Flour (bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Bleached Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Vegetable Starch (modified Corn, Wheat, Rice, Pea, ...

      What are some interesting facts about chicken nuggets? ›

      The nuggets as we know them today were produced by Robert C. Baker in a laboratory at Cornell University in the early 1960s. With this, Baker made it possible to enter more poultry products into the lives of many Americans, who had been consuming too much red meat, which caused severe health problems.

      Why McDonald's Chicken McNuggets come in only 4 shapes? ›

      According to McDonald's, the nuggets come in four shapes: the bell, the bow-tie, the ball and the boot. The reason for the four different shapes is to ensure consistent cooking times for food safety.

      Is 20 chicken nuggets too many? ›

      A 20-piece chicken nuggets meal contains 58g of fat and 926 calories, which exceeds daily recommended intakes of 56g fat, and is almost half of the daily recommended 2,000 calories a day, according to The Daily Mail.

      Is there milk in Mcdonalds chicken nuggets? ›

      Like the McChicken Sandwich, nuggets don't contain milk or dairy but they are fried in the same fryer as Buttermilk Crispy Chicken, which means there is a chance of cross contamination. This means if you're lactose intolerant, you're probably fine eating the nuggets. If you have a milk allergy, you should be careful.

      Why does McDonald's have the best chicken nuggets? ›

      The formed chicken nugget is breaded three times — first in a light batter, then in a breading with celery and white pepper, and finally in a thick tempura batter that contains leavening agents to aerate the batter. This gives the McNugget the crispy, yet airy texture and lightly spiced flavor.

      Did McDonald's ever have a 9 piece chicken nuggets? ›

      Within a year of adding it to US menus in 1983 — first in 6-piece, 9-piece and 20-piece denominations, according to the company — McDonald's began making the product available worldwide.

      What are the details of chicken nuggets? ›

      A chicken nugget is a food product consisting of a small piece of deboned chicken meat that is breaded or battered, then deep-fried or baked. Invented in the 1950s, chicken nuggets have become a very popular fast food restaurant item, as well as widely sold frozen for home use.

      Is pink slime vegan? ›

      “Pink slime” is a colloquial term for Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB). LFTB refers to smaller pieces of lean meat that are added to ground beef to produce a leaner product utilizing as much of meat from an animal as possible.

      What food is pink slime in? ›

      Pink slime (also known as lean finely textured beef or LFTB, finely textured beef, or boneless lean beef trimmings or BLBT) is a meat by-product used as a food additive to ground beef and beef-based processed meats, as a filler, or to reduce the overall fat content of ground beef.

      Did McDonald's stop using pink slime? ›

      Pink slime removed from McDonald's burgers — but other food additives remain. Every since the release of the 2004 documentary “Super Size Me,” we've all wondered what it is we're ingesting when we eat McDonald's. On Wednesday, McDonald's announced the product was no longer used in their burgers, Time reports.

      Why are McNuggets pink? ›

      No, our Chicken McNuggets® do not contain what some people call "pink slime" or "pink goop." We've seen the photo of "pink goop" or "pink slime" in association with McDonald's. Let's set the record straight: this image in connection with McDonald's is a myth.

      Why order 20 nuggets at McDonalds? ›

      So the video is basically saying if you order 4, 6, 10 nuggets, you may receive a previously cooked batch rather than freshly made ones. Some agreed with the TikToker that the nuggets are fresher when you order a bigger batch of them.

      What are the 4 types of McNuggets? ›

      In fact, McNuggets come in just four shapes: the bell, the ball, the boot, and the bow tie, sometimes referred to as the bone. According to a video released by McDonald's Canada in 2014, the process of making the nuggets starts with deboning whole chickens.

      Are McDonald's chicken nuggets 100% chicken? ›

      Contrary to popular belief, McDonald's chicken nuggets are made from 100 percent chicken breast meat, according to the fast-food giant. But the chicken only adds up to 45 percent of a McNugget - as the rest of the recipe is a combination of batter, seasoning and oil.

      Are chicken nuggets processed meat? ›

      Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

      They're easy to pop in your mouth, but they're processed. There's chicken meat in them, along with bones, blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, fat, and skin (although Chick-fil-A says its nuggets are made of boneless chicken breast) .

      What are McDonald's fries made of? ›

      Our World Famous Fries® are made from quality potatoes, including Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, Umatilla Russet and the Shepody. The suppliers we work with first peel, cut and blanche the potatoes. They then dry, partially fry and quickly freeze the fries for our restaurants.

      What ingredients are in McDonald's fries? ›

      Ingredients: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor [wheat And Milk Derivatives]*), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (maintain Color), Salt. *natural Beef Flavor Contains Hydrolyzed Wheat And Hydrolyzed Milk As Starting Ingredients.

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