Chicken McNuggets

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Chicken McNuggets
McDonald's Chicken Nuggets.jpg
Nutritional value per 10 pieces (162 g) No sauce
Energy440 kcal (1,800 kJ)
30 g (10%)
Sugars0 g
Dietary fiber2 g
30 g (44%)
Saturated5 g (25%)
22 g
Vitamin A equiv.
0 μg
Vitamin C
2 mg
20 mg
1 mg
900 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Energy from fat270 kcal (1,100 kJ)
Cholesterol65 mg (22%)

May vary outside United States
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: McDonald's Meal Builder

Chicken McNuggets are a type of chicken nuggets sold by the international fast food restaurant chain McDonald's. They consist of small pieces of reconstituted boneless chicken meat that have been battered and deep fried.[1] Chicken McNuggets were conceived by Keystone Foods in the late 1970s and introduced in select markets in 1981.[2] The nuggets were made available worldwide by 1983 after correcting a supply issue. The formula was changed in 2016 to remove artificial preservatives and improve the nutritional value.

Description and origin

The Chicken McNugget is a small piece of processed chicken meat that is fried in batter and flash-frozen at a central manufacturing facility, then shipped out and sold at McDonald's restaurants. It was conceived by Keystone Foods founder Herb Lotman in the late 1970s.[3][4]

McDonald's first executive chef, René Arend, a native of Luxembourg, created the Chicken McNuggets recipe in 1979. "The McNuggets were so well-received that every franchise wanted them", said Arend in a 2009 interview. "There wasn't a system to supply enough chicken".[5] Supply problems were solved by 1983, and Chicken McNuggets became available nationwide in the United States.[6] In Canada, the national release was in late January 1984.[7]

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.[8][9] Four shapes were chosen because McDonalds states "The 4 shapes we make Chicken McNuggets in was the perfect equilibrium of dipability and fun. 3 would’ve been too few. 5 would’ve been, like, wacky."[10]


As of August 1, 2016, the ingredients within the United States are as follows: White boneless chicken, water, salt, seasoning (yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring, safflower oil, lemon juice solids, dextrose, citric acid), sodium phosphates. Battered and breaded with water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil) with citric acid as a preservative. McDonald's ingredients can vary outside of the US. In August 2016 McDonald's announced that Chicken McNuggets no longer contained artificial preservatives.[11]


Chicken McNuggets are sold in various portion sizes depending on the country of purchase. In the United States, they come in packs of 4, 6, 10, 20 and 50 (in selected stores).[12] In some markets, including the United Kingdom, they are sold in packs of 4 (as part of a Happy Meal), 6, 9 or 20 (as a "ShareBox").[13] In New Zealand and Australia, they are also available in 3-packs in Happy Meals and Heart Foundation-approved "Tick healthy" meals. In Canada, Chicken McNuggets are sold in packs of 4 (as part of a Happy Meal), 6, 10, and 20. A 50-piece McNuggets meal deal has been promoted at times for special events such as the NFL's Super Bowl.[14]

They have recently been introduced by McDonald's in India, first as a part of its "Breakfast Meal" and later in the regular menu in May 2009. A halal version of the McNuggets have been sold at two franchises in Dearborn, Michigan, beginning in the early 2000s, bringing in double the average McNuggets sales.[15]


In September 2020, McDonald's introduced Spicy Chicken McNuggets in the United States for a limited time along with Mighty Hot Sauce. Spicy Chicken McNuggets returned on February 1, 2021 again for a limited time.[16]


In a 2002 lawsuit against McDonald's, a judge commented that Chicken McNuggets are a "McFrankenstein" creation.[17] The judge identified that rather than being merely chicken fried in a pan, McNuggets included elements not utilized by the home cook, including unusual sounding ingredients such as extracts of rosemary, vitamins (niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid) all of which are common in enriched flour, and leavening (baking soda, calcium lactate, etc.).[18]

The 2004 documentary Super Size Me states that "[o]riginally created from old chickens that can no longer lay eggs, McNuggets are now made from chickens with unusually large breasts. They're stripped from the bone, and ground-up into a sort of 'chicken mash', which is then combined with all sorts of stabilizers and preservatives, pressed into familiar shapes, breaded, deep-fried, freeze-dried, and then shipped to a McDonald's near you." Super Size Me also alleged inclusion of ingredients such as TBHQ, polydimethylsiloxane, and others not used by a typical home cook.[19] This was subsequently restated by CNN.[20] Marion Nestle, a New York University professor and author of What to Eat, says that the ingredients in McNuggets probably pose no health risks.[20]

Before August 2016, dimethylpolysiloxane and TBHQ were listed as ingredients in the McNuggets cooking process.[21] According to Lisa McComb, a media relations representative for McDonald's, dimethylpolysiloxane is used as a matter of safety to keep the frying oil from foaming. A review of animal studies by the World Health Organization found no adverse health effects associated with dimethylpolysiloxane. TBHQ is a common preservative for vegetable oils, cereals, nuts, cookies, chips and animal fats,[22] found in other foods such as Girl Scout Cookies[23] and Quaker Chewy Granola Bars.[24] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets an upper limit of 0.02% of the oil or fat content in foods,[25] which like other foods, applies to the oil used in McNuggets. Effective use of TBHQ was 1 gram per 5,000 grams of cooking oil (1 gram per 11.023 pounds of cooking oil).

In culture

McNugget numbers

A mathematical problem, discussed on Eric W. Weisstein's MathWorld[26] and Brady Haran's YouTube channel "Numberphile,"[27] is that of determining the greatest number of McNuggets which cannot be made from any combination of pack sizes on offer. For example, in the UK, McNuggets are sold in boxes of 6, 9 or 20 (excluding Happy Meals). Consequently, the greatest number of McNuggets which cannot be purchased exactly is 43, the Frobenius number of the set {6,9,20}.[26] This means that all natural numbers greater than 43 can be expressed, in some way, as the sum of some multiple of each of 6, 9, and 20. For example, 139 = (5 × 20) + (5 × 6) + (1 × 9).

See also


  1. ^ Popken, Ben (December 9, 2014). "McDonald's shows how McNuggets are really made". CNBC. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  2. ^ Letterman, David (June 4, 1981). "The Tonight Show". Retrieved August 12, 2017. It's June 1981 and the year is just about half over and I believe that, regardless of what happens from here on out, historians will recount 1981 as the year McDonald's introduced Chicken McNuggets. Now, I think so. Let's assume for a minute that there is a portion of the chicken anatomy that can accurately be described as nuggets. Is this something you want to eat, huh?
  3. ^ "Keystone Foods". MCDONALD'S. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  4. ^ "Herb Lotman dies at 80; created system for making McDonald's burgers". LATIMES. May 11, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  5. ^ "The Cult of the McRib". MAXIM. February 3, 2009. Archived from the original on October 28, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  6. ^ "History of McDonald's Corporation – FundingUniverse". Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  7. ^ Goldstein, Paul (February 14, 1984). "Canada more golden for McDonald's arches". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. p. B1.
  8. ^ "From Chicken to McNuggets – McDonalds". Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  9. ^ "Why McDonald's Chicken McNuggets Come In Only Four Shapes". Business Insider. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  10. ^ "Here's Why McDonald's Chicken Nuggets Come In 4 Specific Shapes". HuffPost. March 1, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  11. ^ "McDonald's Just Made A Big Change to Its Chicken McNuggets". Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  12. ^ "Chicken McNuggets". McDonald's. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "Chicken". McDonald's. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  14. ^ Aamoth, Doug. "CrunchDeals: 50 piece Chicken McNuggets bucket for $10 this weekend". Crunch Deals. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  15. ^ "Halal McNuggets a Hit in Detroit". Huda.
  16. ^ "McDonald's Spicy Chicken McNuggets Are Back to Bless Us".
  17. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (January 26, 2003). "Word for Word/Fast-Food Fracas; Your Honor, We Call Our Next Witness: McFrankenstein". New York Times. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  18. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (January 26, 2003). "Word for Word/Fast-Food Fracas; Your Honor, We Call Our Next Witness: McFrankenstein". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Morgan Spurlock (2004). Super Size Me.
  20. ^ a b Martin, David (June 25, 2010). "All McNuggets not created equal". CNN. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  21. ^ "McDonald's USA Ingredients Listing for Popular Menu Items" (PDF). McDonalds. October 9, 2010. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 9, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  22. ^ "TBHQ — The most effective choice for vegetable oils". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012.
  23. ^ "Nutrition Information for Girl Scout Cookies".
  24. ^ "Quaker Chewy Granola Bars — Chocolate Chip Nutritional Information". Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2011.
  25. ^ "21 C.F.R. § 172.185". Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  26. ^ a b Weisstein, Eric W. "McNugget Number". MathWorld. Wolfram Research, Inc. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  27. ^ "How to order 43 Chicken McNuggets – Numberphile". Numberphile. Retrieved April 21, 2014.

External links