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.

By Jonathan Berr Jan 7, 2013 5:37PM
A sign outside the fast-food chain McDonaldsMcDonald's (MCD), which has struggled with lackluster sales, is betting that consumers will flock to its restaurants for fried chicken wings. Some consumers are skeptical.

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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Tags: FoodMCD
Jan 7, 2013 6:24PM
They tell the story like Mighty Wings are new. Surprise Mighty Wings came out in the 90's when I worked at McDonalds. Old Product rereleased at a higher cost for today's consumers. Bad McDonalds.
Jan 7, 2013 8:10PM
I hope this hastens the introduction of the ultimate chicken product , the McBeak.
Jan 8, 2013 12:21PM
Price is too high. Will not appeal to average American who can go  and order for 50 cents per wing at a restaurant.
Jan 8, 2013 7:05AM
I left a McD out on my picnic table in bear country most of the day. When I got back the flies didn't  want it.  The ants said, "no can do" . The bears were going around licking the door handles on the cars.  Not enough salt is all it could figure? We now buy a McD and hang it from the nearest tree to keep the critters away.
Jan 7, 2013 11:25PM
Jan 8, 2013 10:22AM
I don't consider wings to be fast food, unless they're boneless, which would make them chicken nuggets. I think McDonalds should stick to their mainstay (hamburgers, french fries, shakes, etc) instead of trying to get into a market where they're outmatched by restaurants that specialize in wings.  I wish McDonalds would get a bacon cheeseburger. Not the Angus burger with the weirdo bun but a simple bacon cheeseburger, like the Daily Double with bacon on it. Plus, they should serve breakfast all day!  My friends and co-workers have all commented that we could eat an Egg McMuffin and hash browns any time of the day.
Jan 8, 2013 12:49AM
I go to McDonalds for a burger, not chicken
Jan 8, 2013 10:09AM
yeah next thing you know McD is gonna come out with the hotdog and it will be called the McChode
Jan 7, 2013 8:35PM
I remember when those wings came out in the 90's. I was surprised by how edible they were. I think I remember a lot of people complaining when they took them away after a year or so.
Jan 7, 2013 10:04PM
I have an idea, increase the quality of food you serve at your restaurants and pay/treat your employees better and I might consider eating there again. Nothing sounds less appetizing than chicken wings from a company that gets them from factory farms. Enjoy your lackluster sales.
Jan 8, 2013 10:07AM
Jan 7, 2013 6:22PM
Jan 8, 2013 12:24PM
Bring back the quarter pound burger with the grilled onions, melted cheese sauce on a rye bun.  Best sandwich McDonalds ever made.
Jan 8, 2013 10:49AM
Why don't they just try McNuggets on a stick and call them McWings?
Jan 8, 2013 12:19PM
Each wing costs a dollar? Good luck with THAT! And, as others have noted: McDonalds wings? Ewwwwwww....
Jan 8, 2013 12:49PM
back when i was younger and traveling upstate alot we use to get them. they were pretty good. crispy, nice seasoning, good portions.
Jan 8, 2013 4:08PM

"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.

Jan 7, 2013 9:58PM
Stick to the burgers Mickey-D!!!! ...Find a way to improve on what made you and leave the chicken to Popeyes and KFC!!!!...Comments have already been made about McDonald's wings that are not favorable, so this tells me to go to "Wing Stop" for the best wings you can buy! If not fry them at home! that's what's really happening! 
Jan 8, 2013 12:32PM
I was rather surprise on a visit to the Bahamas while eating at Mcdonalds saw that in the Bahamas the Might wings are already there. Speaking to the workers they say it is a good sell. I tried them and like them
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