40 McNugget Facts To Celebrate Their 40th Year
It’s hard to imagine McDonald’s without the Chicken McNugget on their menu, but it only became available in America, nationwide in 1983 (be sure to watch this puppet-friendly company training video for its launch). Prior to that, it was born out of a limited run, oniony side dish that had failed to catch on, and tweaked and tested into a boneless poultry item by a famed European chef for years before being ready for primetime dipping.
Ever since its launch, the McNugget has made customers scream for more, question what they’re made of, survive pandemics, spark controversy, cause injuries, incite violence, assist in marriage proposals, become a pricey body pillow, and even help fuel the quest for Olympic gold. The Chicken McNugget is celebrating its 40th year of official existence in 2023, and what better time than now to examine and re-examine 40 facts that prove this golden-brown oldie is just warming up? Sadly, we were unable to verify if the popular McDonald’s item was related to immigrant Adam McNugget, who arrived in America in 1836, or inspired the naming of an individual born in 1992 named McNugget McNugget. These facts may have to wait for birthdays #41 and #42.
Chicken Nuggets were an Ivy League invention
Contrary to popular belief, McDonald’s may have invented the Chicken McNugget, but they did not invent the chicken nugget. That mighty honor is held by Robert C. Baker, a Cornell University professor, who was able to figure out how to keep the skin intact around the chicken during the frying process. In an interview with The Ithaca Journal, he said "When the nuggets came out in the 1950s, they weren’t too popular" (via Cornell Chronicle).
The New York Times dubbed Baker "something of a chicken Edison," and he and his team were also instrumental in the development of chicken hot dogs, ham, salami, pastrami, steak, and even the famed Cornell chicken barbecue sauce. While he died at age 84 in 2006, the non-household name’s contributions to the poultry industry can still be found in the grocery store aisles and feasted on at the Golden Arches.
The father of the McNugget was a famed European chef
René Arend was a Luxembourg chef who had cooked for the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, and Ray Kroc. The latter diner, the founder of the modern McDonald’s franchise, was able to coax the chef to leave haute cuisine for the hot cakes of the Golden Arches. He became McDonald’s first executive chef in 1976.
In McDonald’s Oak Brook, Illinois test kitchen, Arend was tasked with pushing the menu beyond burgers and into the realm of poultry. After striking out with chicken pot pie, fried chicken, and an early version of the McChicken sandwich, he had a bona fide boneless hit with the idea hatched by McDonald’s chairman Fred Turner — the Chicken McNugget. He told the New York Times that it took 14-16 months to develop the McNugget, followed by years of testing and modification before it was sold nationwide by 1983. While he certainly remembers those "once-in-a-lifetime dinners" he cooked for royalty and celebrities, he told The Morning Call that his legacy is tied to the Chicken McNuggets, which "will go on long after I am gone."
Before there were Chicken McNuggets they were Onion Nuggets
Before the McNugget was breaded chicken, it had an earlier life as breaded onions. Chef René Arend explained to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin "Every one of McDonald’s competitors were making onion rings. but you can only take so much of the onion and there was waste, so I cut the onion in pieces, and breaded them in a tempura batter. But it didn’t work, it just didn’t go over."
The limited-time item hit menus in the fall of 1978 for the whopping price of 45¢, partnered alongside Arend’s other creation — the Chopped Beefsteak Sandwich. The last sight of it on menus came in early 1980, as Lisa Howard of McDonald’s told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "because of the variety in onion supplies it became difficult to control quality." Fans have been demanding for the return of Onion Nuggets ever since, and even trying to recreate them at home.
Knoxville, Tennessee got to take the first bite
After a product leaves the McDonald’s test kitchen, it is then tested out in the wild, at a select market. When the McNugget left home for the first time, in the spring of 1980, it traveled to the volunteer state — Tennessee. In six stores between Knoxville, Alcoa, Morristown, and Oak Ridge, customers volunteered their taste buds to try 5 pieces for $1.10. One of the Knoxville McDonald’s chosen was a brand new, adult-oriented location, which even had a salad bar.
"The Chicken Lover’ Rush is on!" ran the headline of a newspaper ad in The News-Sentinel, and run they did. McDonald’s interviewed these new consumers and found that some took McNuggets home to freeze and reheat later, while kids appreciated that they were literal finger food.
A SWAT team saved the McNugget from failure
With the first test in the Knoxville area over, the McNugget still was not ready for primetime. In the book "Teamwork," E.J. "Bud" Sweeney said the McNugget "wasn’t that great a trial product. It was, however, a great concept." Sweeney was a Gorton’s seafood expert who previously helped out with the launch of their Filet-O-Fish and was tapped by McDonald’s chairman Fred Turner to return and help make the McNugget a McReality.
Due to seeing so "many projects [that] go dry at the corporate level because of layers of insulated bureaucracy," Sweeney asked for autonomy to do his work, and report the results only to Turner. With two other McDonald’s employees, they formed a "SWAT" team that quickly got down to business, and figured out how to successfully produce the McNugget on a larger scale, which was also a winner with the customers.
The McNugget is not made of pink slime
When it was introduced to the world, the McNugget was advertised as "savory chunks of boneless white and dark meat, dipped in a specially seasoned batter and fried to a crisp golden brown". While the product’s popularity quickly rose in the ’80s, so did questions about its make-up, including from the Federal Trade Commission and reporters wondering about McBeaks. The anatomy questions persist to this day, even with modifications to the recipe and the launch of a "new" McNugget in 2003 ("now made with seasoned white meat" goes the TV ad) and then again in 2016 ("no artificial colors, flavors, and now, no artificial preservatives" went that TV ad).
And what about the rumors of pink slime? McDonald’s and their chicken suppliers have been more open about their processes these days. In 2014, former "MythBusters" host Grant Imahara got a sneak peek at no beaks at McNugget supplier Tyson’s plant (via CNET), and McDonald’s Canada posted a similar video with their supplier.
There are four shapes of McNuggets
When the McNuggets were taking shape in their test phase at those Tennessee McDonald’s locations, Chef René Arend told The Morning News, "We went in with all the nuggets hand-cut." Since they eventually needed a uniform look to them for worldwide distribution, they found a machine from Sweden to do the job for them.
Today, there are four shapes of McNuggets: the ball, the bell, the boot, and the bone (although McDonald’s Canada calls the last one the "bow tie"). Yahoo! spoke with McDonald’s sensory team, and learned that in order to be considered a "Gold Standard" quality McNugget, they have to match one of those four shapes "as perfectly as possible."
There have been more than 25 dipping sauces
From the get-go, McNuggets were paired with dipping sauces, with Chef René Arend telling The Morning Call, "It enhances and diversifies the food. It adds the cook’s personal touch to food." Arend personally made the three original sauces, which came in a round (not rectangular) container, whose flavors were chosen based on market research — barbecue, sweet and sour, and his personal favorite, hot mustard, which went through 199 variations before receiving the chef’s kiss.
Honey was also an original dipping option offered, and by 1984, Louisiana Hot Sauce and Jalapeño were briefly on the table. The U.S. market has seen over 25 dipping sauces drop since then, including Habanero Ranch, the Cajun and Sweet Chili ones in collaboration with the Korean band BTS, and the renaming of a classic, "Saweetie ‘N Sour," in honor of the rapper.
The most beloved McDonaldland characters may be the McNuggets Buddies
In the fast food mascot game, no one can top what McDonald’s created with their McDonaldland characters. They may be more on the sidelines these days, but names like Ronald McDonald, Grimace, the Hamburglar, and Mayor McCheese can still raise a smile. Out of all of them, perhaps the biggest fan favorites remain The McNugget Buddies.
Ad Agency Art Director Rich Seidelman drew the first concept drawing of the McNugget puppet in 1983, and then puppeteers were hired to make them move and groove through TV advertising magic. The McNugget Buddies went on to inspire a line of Happy Meal toys, many times over in various fun costumes. One of the most memorable sets of commercials and toys was the Halloween edition, headlined by Count McNuggula. Seidelman has been reliving these wonderful McNugget Buddies memories on his Instagram and Facebook pages titled "Filming in McDonaldland."
McNuggets have a lengthy acting resume
While the McNugget has been a fried star within the McDonald’s restaurant, it has also been shining bright, handing in quiet, but memorable cameo roles in movies and on TV. They have been both talked about and enjoyed on screen, and Wayne Wang’s 1985 film "Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart," even featured them on its theatrical poster.
On "The Wire," Michael B. Jordan praised the McNuggets’ inventor, but in "Who’s That Girl," Madonna pondered why they’re called what they’re called. The McNuggets have been on the minds and lips of "The Simpsons," "South Park," "Family Guy," "Rick and Morty," "Cheers," "Moonlighting," and even Woody Allen, and thanks to Yarn, you can watch all their mentions.
The tender chicken bites were also served up for a very awkward first date, but a totally tender moment in Bo Burnham’s 2018 film "Eight Grade." Fellow director Josephine Decker praised the moment, telling Yahoo! that "it felt like everything in the universe was going to be alright."
The people demanded more than just 6 pieces
Soon after its nationwide release in only a 6-piece option, the McNugget was a bestseller. Bob Keyser, McDonald’s director of media relations, told the Arizona Daily Star, "During the first 12 weeks, 5 million pounds of McNuggets were sold each week."
It didn’t take long for the McNugget consumer to start begging like Oliver Twist, "Please sir, I want some more." McDonald’s would not deny their customers, and in 1983 "McNugget Mania" was in full swing with the introduction of the new 9 and 20-piece sizes. The TV ad at the time encouraged buyers to enjoy them on land, sea, and air, as they boasted that "Chicken McNuggets have changed the face of chicken loving in America."
Today, McDonald’s offers them in 4, 6, 10, 20, and even 40-piece boxes. And once, they were even offered in an 11-piece container.
Before there was an Extra Value Meal there was the Value Pack
While children have long been enjoying an entire meal plus drink with the Happy Meal, the adults were forced to order theirs a la carte. Thanks to the innovation of Bay Area McDonald’s employee Alan Dimayuga, the Extra Value Meal changed all that when introduced in 1991, pairing sandwiches, fries, and a drink for a discounted price point.
Six years before the Extra Value Meal was born, McDonald’s had the precursor Value Pack giving customers a run for their money — 30% larger fries, 22-ounce soft drink, and 11 nuggets — in an awesome tequila sunrise hued-box that held them all. The Richmond Times-Dispatch noted that they were such a success locally, it sold out before the promotion ended. The splashy ads at the time promoted the "Supersize" Value Packs that could also be ordered with the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, or the Filet-O-Fish. There was also a Super Value Pack that came in a large red box and contained 24 McNuggets.
Chicken McNuggets Shanghai surprised many in 1986
In 1986, the world was quite surprised when McDonald’s offered Chicken McNuggets Shanghai. Inside a specialized designed box and an "Oriental goodie bag" were Shanghai sweet & sour, oriental hot mustard, and teriyaki sauces, a McFortune Cookie (one of the 40 million made for the campaign), and even chopsticks (one of 81 million pairs produced).
The food may have sat well in some customers’ stomachs, but none of it, especially the advertising, sat very well with the Asian community. George Imai, director of the Japanese Canadian Citizens, told the Edmonton Journal, "We feel it’s real racial stereotyping and we’re not pleased with it at all." The Museum of Chinese in America has a set in their collection, to display McDonald’s "Borrowing from pernicious stereotypes of Orientalism and Yellow Peril … to capitalize off the ‘exoticness’ of the East." Even "Saturday Night Live" took aim at the ridiculousness in a December 1986 episode with a parody commercial in which the chain offered Japanese food labeled as "McSooshi".
Christmas came early in 1987
Christmas came early in 1987 for McDonald’s eaters, when Holiday Chicken McNuggets dropped in stores for a limited time, from December 4 through Christmas Day. Two new sauces were whipped up for the occasion by Chef Arend — Apple Cinnamon or Cranberry Orange, and came in 9 or 20 pieces in "a festive Holiday Box that’s perfect for seasonal get-togethers." With eggnog milkshakes and peppermint sundaes as creamy add-ons, there was a "Ho-Ho-Host of Holiday Treats … for a sleighful of fun".
The Holiday McNuggets had an encore in December 1988, but Canadians were the only ones with extra festive cheer at the end of that particular year. Even if Holiday McNuggets were a product of yesteryear, that hasn’t stopped fans from remembering them, and in the case of pop culture blogger Dinosaur Dracula, recreating the scene and even the sauces. He said he wanted the "chance to turn fast food into fine dining. I want to use the good plates on Chicken McNuggets."
A minted Fiesta was thrown in 1988
In the dog days of 1988’s summer, McDonald’s threw a Latin-themed party that they also hoped would lure in numismatists, or perhaps those ready to start their own coin collection. Chicken McNuggets Fiesta was another attempt at cultural appropriation, with the TV ad playing up stereotypes, including a mariachi band on hand to promote, and in stores, with employees hanging piñatas and donning sombreros.
Capitalizing on the popularity of salsa, these limited-time 9 and 20-piece Fiesta McNuggets came with three new sauces — green chili salsa with jalapeño peppers, mild salsa with chunks of tomatoes and onion, and one that doesn’t seem very south of the border — mesquite barbecue (was mole not an option?). The added bonus here, besides being able to sip on the also limited edition Fiesta Colada Shake, were coins, 30 million of them, newly minted from Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, and Venezuela. There was even a handy coin holder, which displayed the flags of the countries. Sadly, the Professional Coin Grading Service concludes that the coins "have little value today," outside of one wanting to throw a retro-McNugget fiesta.
They once came in clamshell containers
Thanks to Jon Huntsman Sr. and his innovative clamshell packaging, starting in the mid-’70s, McDonald’s Big Mac and other McProducts could "keep food fresher, hotter (or colder), and more sanitary, which would enhance the product and boost sales" (via his biography, "Barefoot to Billionaire"). When the McNuggets arrived on the scene, they too were outfitted with their own clamshell packaging, one worthy of being a part of the Smithsonian’s collection – although their 9 and 20-piece brothers and sisters were sold in paper boxes. Food packaging archivist Jason Liebig of Collecting Candy has several iterations of the 6-piece clamshells that had a dip holder section in his own collection, viewable on Flickr.
As the ’80s wore on, and environmental concerns about CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) depleting the ozone layer became more prevalent, calls for McDonald’s to stop using their styrofoam polystyrene packaging became too hard for them to ignore. In 1990, McDonald’s dropped the clamshell from use, with Ed Rensi, president of U.S. operations, telling the Los Angeles Times, "Although some scientific studies indicate that foam packaging is environmentally sound, our customers just don’t feel good about it. So we’re changing."
India serves Vegetable McNuggets
When McDonald’s moves into a new country, it always has to take into consideration local tastes and cuisines when coming up with a menu that would have customers coming back for more. When the Golden Arches set up shop in India, back in 1996, a country that reveres the cow, and doesn’t eat the cow, they had to get creative with their offerings. In over a quarter century, McDonald’s India has served up the Maharaja Mac (with chicken or vegetarian patties), Aloo Tikki Burger (mashed potatoes, peas), and McSpicy Paneer (fried cheese).
While McDonald’s India sells McNuggets today, they first launched an alternate version tailor-made for the native tongues — Vegetable McNuggets. The AP described them as "bite-sized unspiced versions" of their vegetable patties that included peas, carrots, red pepper, beans, and coriander, and they came with McMasala Chili or McImli (tamarind) sauces. Starting in 2023 – McDonald’s India is frying up Cheesy Veg Nuggets, which are "seasoned with jalapenos and chili flakes and oozing with semi-liquid cheese," and Germany will be the test market for the new McPlant Nuggets made with Beyond Meat.
The U.K. gave the OK for Katsu McNuggets
Two simple sentences: "Katsu. McNuggets." were uttered in December of 2020 and got things all a Twitter for British McDonald’s fans ready to sink their teeth into the new item. The Katsu Nuggets, which were coated in crispy curry panko breadcrumbs, came with a sweet curry dip. The company suggested the unorthodox method of enjoyment by slicing the nuggets into segments and drizzling the dip over them.
In store for only six weeks, one fan loved them so much that they were even worth the pain, tweeting, "Katsu nuggets are probably the best thing I have ever eaten despite it instantly triggering my IBS cramps." Sadly, for some, they sold out before the promotion ended, left to vent at the same place they built their excitement in the first place — Twitter. Despite continued pleas from fans, McDonald’s response remains, "At the moment we don’t have any plans to bring back the Katsu McNuggets."
Spicy McNuggets become the first new kind of McNuggets in the U.S. ever
In 2020, McDonald’s attempted to spark their sales by introducing something fans have long asked for — Spicy Chicken McNuggets. What made them different from the normal ones was the tempura breaded coating made of cayenne and chili peppers, and sauce to (light a) match — Mighty Hot Sauce. It was a big move for the company, as Vice President of Menu Innovation, Linda VanGosen said in a press release, "This is the first time we’ve introduced a new flavor of our classic Chicken McNuggets in the U.S. since they came to menus in 1983." Although those in Singapore got their hands on their own blend of Spicy McNuggets back in 2017, and Japan got Spicy Black Pepper Garlic Chicken McNuggets.
Things went better than planned for the limited-release item, as they sold out in some stores after only two weeks. The company told TODAY, "If our customers truly can’t get enough, there’s always a chance we’ll bring limited-time menu items back in the future." The Spicy Nuggets helped boost sales, and it was no surprise to see them return every year since. But some question why they don’t just make them a permanent addition to the menu.
The world record for most McNuggets eaten in one minute is 19
British speed eater Leah Shutkever is quite the pacesetter when it comes to Guinness World Records, owning several titles for plowing throw plates of various vittles. There’s one food in particular that is perhaps her pièce(s) de résistance — chicken nuggets. In 2020, Shutkever set the Guinness record of "Most chicken nuggets eaten in three minutes" with 1 lb, 11.34 oz inhaled, and two years later broke the record of "Most chicken nuggets eaten in one minute" with 12.42 oz of the McDonald’s specialty, which is the equivalent of 19 McNuggets.
As for non-Guinness certified records (listed on RecordSetter), the fastest time to eat 20 McNuggets was under a minute and four seconds, 150 was clocked at under an hour, and the most McNuggets eaten for a YouTube video is 155 … although two people set their own mark together with 200.
McNugget are robots … sort of
McDonald’s once flirted with actual Transformers as a Happy Meal toy, but it only landed in the hands of lucky St. Louisans in 1985. Two years later, McDonald’s went it at themselves, showing there’s more than meets the eye with their line of Changeables. The TV ad promised that "hidden inside is something neat, a changeable robot you’ll want to meet," and to some, like Pop Culture connoisseur Dinosaur Dracula, "they actually outclassed" Transformers. He added, "It was thrilling to see robots turn into cars and jets, sure, but a robot that transformed into a pack of Chicken McNuggets? If you were a kid in the late ’80s, that s*** was relatable."
McNuggets were featured in the first and third waves of Changeable toys. The 1987 version was a yellow clamshell box that turned into a nameless robot, and in the 1990 incarnation, which was McDino-themed, the box turned into McNuggets-O-Saurus. While a couple of Changeables were included as throwback toys to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Happy Meal in 2019, sadly, the McNuggets box was not one of them.
There are several McNugget McCollector items
While the Changeable toy line is near and dear to many McCollectors, there are plenty of forgotten gems in the world of McNuggets that thanks to places like eBay are only a click away from one’s ownership. There was a yellow and red chicken faced-hat with googly eyes and a beaked bill that welcomed people to "try" the new menu item. In 1986, the Happy Meal got rather buoyant when they offered up four different "Boats ‘n Floats," including a six-pack of McNugget Buddies. Having guests over for dinner? Why not break out the fine china from 1989 featuring Ronald McDonald and The McNugget Band, who "fill the air with happy tunes throughout McDonaldland." Looking for a bit of light reading? The 1992 comic book "The Mystery of the Missing McNugget" may just be the short page-turner you’ve been missing.
As great as all those are, none of them top Mattel’s McNugget Snack Maker from 1993. The toy let kids make their own faux McNuggets by utilizing ingredients found in the home, like bread, cereal, and honey. If you can’t find a set to own, live vicariously through Lucky Penny Shop’s great instructional video.
Mulan movie tie-in created a sensation
After a handful of years apart as partners, Walt Disney and McDonald’s formed a new 10-year marketing and promotional pact in 1996. Two years later, to promote Disney’s new animated film "Mulan," McDonald’s oriented a promotion that brought up bad memories of their poor-tasting McNuggets Shanghai campaign.
Offered up in 6 and an "Imperial" 20-piece set, these McNuggets came in boxes resembling Chinese food containers (the Happy Meal box did not), with a new Szechuan dipping sauce. Chopsticks and fortune cookies didn’t make the trip this go around, but ill-advised puns like "Run, don’t wok," and "McNuggets are Chinamite!" adorned the artwork.
Eddie Wong, executive director of the National Asian American Telecommunication Association, told The Sacramento Bee that the boxes were an offensive "throwback to a fortune-cookie mentality a Western stereotyped view of Chinese culture." McDonald’s spokesperson Kathy Nemeth defended the campaign, saying, "Our goal is not to create ancient China. It’s to have a relevant and fun experience for our customers in the US who equate Chinese takeout cartons with China. Well, not China but with Chinese food."
Rick and Morty brought a sauce back from the dead
One person who never forgot about the short-lived McDonald’s "Mulan" McNuggets campaign was "Rick and Morty" co-creator Justin Roiland. In a Season 3 episode from 2017, Rick rued how McDonald’s "created a new sauce for the McNuggets called the Szechuan sauce, and it’s delicious, and they got rid of it … The only place we can try it is in my memory." Upon the episode’s release on April Fool’s Day, the show tweeted, "Please God, I don’t ask for much, please let us gain enough cultural influence to force McDonald’s into bringing back that f***ing sauce." Ten days later, a packet from 1998 was found in an old car and sold on eBay for $14,700.
Almost four months after the episode aired, McDonald’s came through big time for Roiland, through a dimensional portal and "finally brought back some Szechuan sauce". Someone else sold their 64 oz. bottle for over $15,000 on eBay, but McDonald’s gave less famous customers a one-day crack at getting the sauce at limited locations. Alas, it turned into a fiasco, with fans chanting "we want sauce," as supply didn’t nearly meet the demand. Twenty million packets (50,000% more than last time) were released in 2018 to appease the whetted appetites who previously missed out, and the sauce with a "savory and slightly sweet taste profile with hints of soy, garlic, ginger and mild vinegar notes" returned once again in 2022.
Some fans are skinny dippers
Some may think there’s only one way to eat a McNugget, and that is to use your fingers and place the McNugget into your mouth. To others, there’s a step being skipped, and that is to first remove the skin from the chicken. This all came to a head in 2019, based on a "YKWTFGO" tweet by Kiingdiime, and the worldwide debate that it sparked has yet to die down. Those who enjoy this separation of skin and chicken are happy to defend themselves and their peeling practices (see Mashable), and those who think otherwise, are happy to voice their displeasure (Barstool Sports said "You Should Be Stripped Of Your Human Rights" if you do).
Not for nothing, but McNuggets without breading are indeed lower in calories, carbohydrates, and fat (based on MyFitnessPal numbers), and San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler once put the skin aside on 40 pieces when he forgot to pack his usual tuna sandwich (via The Mercury News.) Where does McDonald’s itself stand on naked nuggets? They once supported one skinny dipper by replying to a tweet with, "We’ll have more Chicken McNuggets for you to peel! 😉"
McHacks make life more delicious
While peeling the skin from McNuggets takes away from its signature taste, there are lifehacks that enhance them and further make one fall in love with them. Australian TikToker Bec Hardgrave has shared two "nuggets" of wisdom — ask for them well done, and mix Sweet and Sour dipping sauce with McChicken sauce to form what one of her fans called "sweetonaise". Another TikToker, bespokendrip, recommends tearing off a bit of the skin and slipping in pickles.
How about an easier way to enjoy them on the road? Skip the box and ask for a large cup to put your McNuggets in, as YouTuber HellthyJunkFood suggests. Worried about running out of sauce before your last McNugget is eaten? Bayashi TV wants you to fear not and dump your sauces into the box, shake them all about, and enjoy your evenly sauced McNuggets. There are also some hacks that have nothing to do with taste, but your wallet — like this one that nets you two free McNuggets.
Usain Bolt ate 100 McNuggets a day at the Beijing Olympics
Usain Bolt is one of the fastest men alive and has eight Olympic gold medals to prove it, from three different summer Olympics. At his first one, Beijing 2008, he perhaps got an extra boost from the food he devoured in the Olympic village because, as he wrote in his biography "Faster in Lightning," he "found Asian food a little odd." He found his power aid in the form of Chicken McNuggets, meal after meal.
Bolt added "There was some scary maths at work, though. On average, I devoured around 100 nuggets every 24 hours. I was there for 10 days, which meant that by the time the Games ended, I must have eaten around 1,000 chunks of Chicken Man, I should have got a gold medal for all that chowing down." He reunited with his crunchy little friends at the Rio games in 2016, but to set a good example, he did tell GeekWire, "Young kids, eat your vegetables."
Celebrities love McNuggets just like us
Want to keep up with the Kardashians? Then do as Kim does and dip McNuggets in honey, as she tweeted that is "the ONLY way to eat them!" Even her sister Kylie battled pregnancy cravings thanks to some McNuggets. Model Irina Shayk makes no bones about her love of McNuggets, saying, "I don’t feel bad eating it. Life is too short to be on a diet."
Cardi B may not need a 40-piece orchestra to record her music, but once recruited a 40-piece McNuggets to help out with one late-night recording session. They put Mariah Carey at ease before an interview, and apparently, former NBA draft pick Sofoklis Schortsanitis possibly once ate 100 McNuggets in one go. Just don’t count on James Cromwell, Emily Deschanel, Alison Pill, or Moby to indulge in them anytime soon.
Anthony Bourdain had disdain for McNuggets
Anthony Bourdain enjoyed eating from a greasy spoon, but he was no fan of McDonald’s, even writing in his book "Medium Raw" about how he wanted to shield his young daughter from the claws of Ronald. Bourdain was especially anti-McNugget. He once was quoted as saying, "What could be more frightening than walking into a McDonald’s and looking at a Chicken McNugget. What the hell is a Chicken McNugget?" (via Ventura County Star). He even put that question to the test when he forced dear fiend and Le Bernard chef Eric Ripert to do a blind taste test while eating his very first McNugget.
TMZ got quite the quote out of him when asking him what the most dangerous meal he ever had was. He replied, "You ever wake up in the middle of the night and there’s like a half-eaten McNugget somewhere in the bed with you, sitting in an ashtray? You reach for it and you think this is probably a really bad idea, but you eat it anyway. That was probably it."
McNugget overdose blamed for mass murder
One of the saddest and darkest chapters in the history of McDonald’s occurred on July 18, 1984, when James Huberty walked into the San Ysidro, California location, and over 77 minutes brutally shot and killed 21 people, injuring 19 others, before being killed himself by a police sniper. At the time, it was the largest mass shooting in America and left the nation in shock.
Searching for her own answers as to why he did it, Huberty’s wife Etna found one in the academic paper by psychologist Robert W. Hall called "MSG Massacre?" She claimed that the monosodium glutamate her husband built up from what the AP labeled an "overdose of Chicken McNuggets," combined with the lead and cadmium in his system he received from his job as a welder may have set him off. She filed two wrongful death suits, one against his former employer and the other against McDonald’s, with her attorney Thomas Lally saying, "The only thing the plaintiff can prove is that on the day of the shootings, he had been eating McNuggets."
The San Ysidro location was razed, and replaced with a memorial. Today, as BorderReport notes, the massacre is a "distant memory for [the] border community."
If you have been impacted by incidents of mass violence, or are experiencing emotional distress related to incidents of mass violence, you can call or text Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 for support.
Not all heroes wear capes
Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor, and one former Canadian McDonald’s worker — dubbed the "Robin Hood of McNuggets" — dropped an extra nugget into a box for those who ordered a 10-piece. In 2019, Cody Bondarchuk revealed this fact on Twitter, and 790,000 likes later, he became somewhat of a hero of the people. Even Tom Hanks was taken with his random act of McKindness, saying, "He’s feeding the world a little better, and bucking corporate strategy. Bravo!"
Bondarchuk explained his motives from over a decade earlier to Global News, saying, "You hear a lot of those stories about people that often they’ll come through a drive-thru and are shorted things — they’re missing fries, they’re missing a straw — so my co-workers and I decided it would just be a feel-good thing to give people that bonus nugget." He added, "Just to give people a bit of extra joy in their day. I know what that feels like and I wanted to pay it forward."
A 3-foot McNugget body pillow cost $90
In 2020, McDonald’s did something they hadn’t done in 19 years — feature a celebrity’s name on their menu. Michael Jordan had that previous honor in 1991 with his McJordan special, and Travis Scott would be the first of (now) many to follow. Scott not only had a meal that could be ordered but a line of merchandise under his Cactus Jack label. Shirts, hoodies, shorts, rugs, basketballs, lunch trays, action figures, and styrofoam cups were just some of the items up for sale, but none drew more attention or want than the Nugget Body Pillow.
Simply described as a 36-inch long body pillow with woven label," and despite a hefty price tag of $90, it sold out soon after its launch. It took months for them to arrive, and when they did, some had buyer’s remorse. Hes Kicks did an unboxing video of his "4-piece" set and called it, among many other things, "the most uncomfortable pillow in the world."
A British girl ate almost nothing but McNuggets since age 2
All you need is … McNuggets? For one British teen, that had been the daily case for 15 years, starting at age 2 up until a health scare caught up with her at 17. Birmingham’s Stacey Irvine started on this dark brown path as a toddler, and told The Daily Mail, "I loved them so much they were all I would eat," adding, "I just couldn’t face even trying other foods. Mum gave up giving me anything else years ago."
While she has cheated on McDonald’s with KFC and supermarket nuggets, and even mixed in some toast or potato chips here and there, the one thing she never apparently tasted were fruits and vegetables. She was forced to change her diet after collapsing in 2012. No further updates on her story have been filed.
McNappers demanded McNuggets for ransom
Ronald McDonald statues were once a ubiquitous presence at McDonald’s starting in the 1970s, capturing the eyes of eaters, and in some cases, were captured by enterprising thieves. In 1986, at a Dover Township, New Jersey location, two "McNappers" took off with the store’s 7-foot statue, and nine days later, left a ransom note on the back door. It read, per Asbury Park Press, "Don’t you wish your Ronald McDonald was replaced? If so, place 8,891 nuggets at 886-3rd Ave., New York, N.Y. Don’t forget the sauce, or he gets it." A photograph with a gagged Ronald was also later found at the McDonald’s.
A few days later, thanks to an anonymous tip to a radio station, the Ronald statue resurfaced, "standing by himself in the middle of a field," police Sgt. Edward McDowell told The Daily Register. While no arrests were made, the final word on the event came from a note attached, "Freed me from McDonaldland to see if Wendy’s has more beef."
Not all stories have happy endings. In 1985, one Fullerton, California thief thought he was getting away with a bag full of cash, but instead, it was a bag of McNuggets.
People have been McInjured by McNuggets
For some eaters, surprises await within McNuggets, but these surprises don’t reveal themselves until a bite has been taken out of them. In 1994, a churchgoing patron from Tennesse didn’t quite like the taste of a hypodermic needle in his McNugget, nor the offer for free food coupons from the store, and sued for $5.5 million. In the suit, it said the victim would have to take hepatitis and HIV tests for the rest of his life.
In 2015, McDonald’s Japan had to recall a million nuggets after pieces of plastic were found in them. In 2020, a West Palm Beach eater was in pain after his Uber Eats order cracked his tooth in two places thanks to a 1-inch bone in his McNugget. He sought $1.1 million from McDonald’s, which he intended to donate to charity.
McNuggets have incited violence
People are passionate about their McNuggets, so much so that they incite violence in the name of them, or in the absence of them. In 2010, a Toledo, Ohio woman was caught off-guard at the drive-thru when she learned they weren’t available at 10:30 am. She hissed, punched, and then broke the window. She later served 60 days in jail and was ordered to pay for the window.
In 2017, the finger food led to a fistful of action as one Indianapolis customer who didn’t get the McNuggets they ordered resorted to throwing punches through the window. The customer behind them in the drive-thru captured it for all the world to see.
A McNugget resembling George Washington sold for $8,100
It’s hard to imagine what George Washington would have thought of the country he helped to form in today’s day and age, but it’s probably safe to say he would have beamed at the very thought that a McNugget in the shape of his face’s profile would start a bidding war on eBay. In 2012, a Nebraska mom named Rebekah Speight was looking to raise a little money to send kids to summer camp and thought the old presidential McNugget chilling in her freezer may be just the ticket.
On the eBay listing she wrote, "We have shared many laughs over this ‘President George Washington Chicken McNugget’ but now he has been called to a higher purpose." While the auction closed at $8,100, sadly the winning bidder backed out. She told the Sioux City Journal, "I know the McNugget is fun, but it’s really about the kids and getting them to camp."
The most expensive McNugget ever cost $99,997
While not exactly as recognizable as America’s forefather and first president, there was another McNugget making quite a lot of noise and money for another eBayer in June of 2021. That summer saw the collaboration with the K-pop boy band BTS, who had their own branded McNuggets meal, and an unofficial, unintentional collaboration with the popular online game "Among Us."
A sharp-eyed eater named Tav thought one of his McNuggets had an "unmistakable correlation with the actual character, even including an odd bump on the back that would represent the backpack." He put it up for auction on eBay, telling CNET, "I had figured it would get somewhere around $50," but it would go on to set the Guinness world record for "Most expensive chicken nugget sold at online auction," netting a cool $99,997. If you missed out, you can currently buy an imposter version for only $41.40.
McNuggets endured during pandemics
When it comes to pandemics, McNuggets are not only a comfort food, but to some, a safe option during a time of so much uncertainty. For writer Karl Taro Greenfeld, who was in Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak from 2002-2004, nine pieces and a Diet Coke became his "SARS diet." He explained to New York Magazine that "if you look at the whole way by which they go from factory farms to table, so to speak: It’s pretty much antibiotic." When COVID-19 came about, he unconsciously returned to the McNuggets again.
The COVID-19 pandemic not only disrupted daily life for the world but also people’s McDonald’s fixes. After the stores closed in the U.K., one enterprising soul tried to peddle a box of 20 McNuggets, which was missing six of them but was willing to barter the remainder for toilet paper.
She said yes … to McNuggets
How do you propose to a woman who loves Chicken McNuggets perhaps even more than they love you? For Kristian Helton, in 2017, there was no other option than to replace the ring box with a McNuggets box, place the ring within an actual McNugget, and scribble "Will You McMarry Me?" Helton told KSN, "She was pretty excited, I think more about the Chicken McNuggets." The future Mrs. Helton, Karsyn Long, said, "I didn’t hesitate to say yes, because he’s obviously the one I want to spend the rest of my life with." The Heltons aren’t alone in love with McNuggets, as a Canadian couple insisted they wanted to incorporate them in their engagement photos, to which photographer Katie Marie replied, "Say no more."