McDonald's testing chicken wings at 500 locations
The company introduced its 'Mighty Wings' in Atlanta, and saw enough encouraging response to broaden the trial to restaurants in Chicago.
The home of the Golden Arches test-marketed "Mighty Wings" in Atlanta last year and plans to start selling them at nearly 500 locations in the Chicago area through the end of February, according to Heather Oldani, a company spokeswoman.
Mighty Wings are sold in 3-piece ($2.99), 5-piece ($4.79) and 10-piece ($8.99) servings, and come with the standard sauce packets that already accompany McNuggets and Chicken Select sandwiches.
Success for the Oakbrook, Ill. burger chain is not a certainty. As the Associated Press noted, prices for chicken wings are rising thanks to the popularity of Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) and similar operations. Buffalo Wild Wings in particular is a formidable competitor, one that posted a 24.8% gain in revenue in its last quarter. Same-store sales, a key metric measuring activity at stores opened at least a year, rose 6.2%, surpassing the 1.9% gain at McDonald's.
Then there's the taste, which some anonymous critics on Yelp and GrubGrade claim was lacking. Many also said that the wings were overpriced.
"They taste okay, but not anything a real wing fan would be interested in," writes a Yelp writer who used the handle Richard "the compliment bomber" R.
Eric on GrubGrade added: "Why would I buy small fast-food naked wings for $1 ea when I can get bigger bbq wings from a sports bar for $.50 ea?"
Some reviewers on the sites were more complimentary, and McDonald's said the feedback it has received from customers has been positive.
"We are always testing different menu items," Oldani said in an interview.
McDonald's could use a hit product. The chain, which for years could do no wrong in the eyes of Wall Street, has struggled lately. Sales have slowed as rivals such as Burger King (BKW) revamped their menus to include healthier fare, something that McDonald's did several years ago to great success. McDonald's posted its first monthly sales drop in November in nine years. The company posted a better-than-expected sales gain in November and analysts aren't sure if the chain is out of the woods yet.
Shares of McDonald's, which have plunged nearly 10% over the past year, rose $1.06 to $90.91.
--Jonathan Berr owns a small position in McDonald's. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
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"Why would I buy small fast-food naked wings for $1 ea when I can get bigger bbq wings from a sports bar for $.50 ea?"
Because unlike a sports bar owner, top level McDonald's executives demand and receive millions of dollars in salary and bonuses for the work that others do.
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