McDonald's new chicken wings don't fly

Mighty Wings may be big, but they're not very good.

By Jan 16, 2013 2:28PM
A sign outside the fast-food chain McDonaldBy Brett Chase

Minyanville asked me to take off my health care hat temporarily for an important assignment: Review McDonald's (MCD) new chicken wings, which are being tested in Chicago.

I figure that I'm uniquely qualified to review this product for a couple of reasons. I live in Chicago and, like many of my football-loving brothers, I can't resist good chicken wings.

McDonald's Mighty Wings were just promoted in Atlanta and are now being sold on a trial basis in almost 500 Chicago-area restaurants. 

I did a little homework prior to my restaurant trip, which unfortunately reminded me that a woman in Virginia found a fried chicken head in her food order when McDonald's previously tested wings on the menu in late 2000. The hideous discovery was dubbed Chicken McNoggin. But since I'm a pro, I shook off that picture of the head and set out to do my job.

Lucky for me, I found the wings at the first McDonald's I visited. There was even a two-wing sampler available for a $1. I bought two. Normally, the wings are sold in orders of three, five and 10 starting at about $3. (Three is more than enough.) "Are they good?" I asked the young woman at the drive-through. "They're amazing," she assured me. Just then, that chicken head seemed like a distant memory.

I have a simple rule of thumb for eating bad food. If it's going to shave years off my life, it should at least taste good. And how can chicken wings not taste good?

Now these Mighty Wings are not Buffalo style. They're deep-fried and, as the name implies, they're not small. They're actually quite big. As I said, three will fill you up -- maybe even sedate you for a couple of hours. The wings are also very greasy and messy. I can't imagine this would be a good thing for regular lunch. You can choose a sauce to go with the wings (which includes Buffalo) but I don't see that the condiments add much more than additional calories, salt, and sugar. I chose a ranch (the default sauce) and hot mustard (which was sweet). These are the same sauces they offer for McNuggets.  

The chicken itself was pretty disappointing. The box the wings come in says "crispy with a spicy kick of flavor." The box also says "big, crispy, spicy, meaty, juicy, bone-in chicken." The wings are crispy but I can't say they live up to the rest of the billing. To me, that tantalizing description sounds like tasty Korean-style chicken wings (the kind worth shaving years off your life). No dice. The McDonald's wings remind me of the chicken that used to come in TV dinners. The spice is pretty tame.

Let's just say McDonald's isn't about to dethrone Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD), Yum Brands' (YUM) KFC, or even Domino's Pizza (DPZ) for decent wings.

There was no nutritional information on the wings' box and the company's website only carries that kind of detail on regular menu items. A McDonald's spokeswoman told me she couldn't divulge that information. What do I care? I took my health care hat off when I pulled up to the drive-through.

McDonald's is going to be testing the wings in Chicago through early March, or at least until another chicken head is found.

More from Minyanville

Jan 16, 2013 4:22PM
I tried the mighty wings, several times, when they were in the Atlanta area.  I found them to be crispy,  had hardly any oil, and had enough spice to clear my sinuses.  I would go to McDonalds just for the wings and was very disappointed when they stopped serving them.  Maybe they were better in the South, where everyone knows, Southerners know how to fry chicken.
Jan 16, 2013 4:58PM
Eating McDonalds "food" leaves me feeling ill about a half hour later so I have mostly avoided it for the last thirty years.  HOWEVER, about twice a year I get a big bag (now box) of fries.  You have to admit that those salty little things are tasty no matter what kind of meat soup they are fried in.
Jan 16, 2013 4:57PM
It is fast food, what do you expect? When I go out and bring home some Mickey D's I don't bust out the fine china and silverware, light a few candles and uncork a bottle of wine.
Jan 16, 2013 3:52PM
They need to make a new fish sandwich....forget the wings. Their fish sandwich hasn't changed in decades. You get too much tartar sauce and it's square...come on McDonald's you can do much better than that.
Jan 16, 2013 5:05PM
Customers always have a choice.  Let their taste buds decide for themselfs.  I cook at home that way I know what goes into my body.  Not to mention how fresh it is and how it was prepared.
Jan 16, 2013 5:09PM

I don't eat fast food very often, but when I do, it's only because I'm traveling and in a hurry.  McD's food is no better or worse than most any other fast food joint.  HOWEVER, in the past few months I've stopped at McD's about 6 or 7 times at various locations in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.  Every time, they ask me my name when they take my order.  Every time, it takes them longer to prepare my order.  And, every time, the order (delivered with my name) has been wrong.


I do not go to McD's to establish a close, personal relationship with the help.  I go there only because I'm in a hurry.  Asking the customers' names makes McD's appear disorganized and slow, not "more personal."  It is McD's, not Starbucks.  And this new "asking the name" thing is apparently distracting the employees from getting the orders delivered efficiently and correctly.


Fast food is supposed to have food orders delivered fast and correctly, not "personal", not disorganized, not inefficient.  I'm done with McD's.

Jan 16, 2013 4:31PM
I just had them and thought that they were surprisingly GOOD. I hope this reviewer seriously doesn't think wings are or will ever be a health food item...
Jan 16, 2013 5:41PM
I stopped eating micky d's when they came out with the mcrib,,,that had no mcbone!
Jan 16, 2013 5:16PM
All McDonalds haters. You must be wrong about them. They are still in business and making money.
Jan 16, 2013 4:51PM
It's McDonald's. Of course they are going to taste like garbage. Six wings from McDeath's probably have enough fat calories to let a mother grizzly bear hibernate for the winter.
Jan 16, 2013 5:15PM

McDonald's has never used spices in any of its food-like offerings, so don't expect them to start now. 

Jan 16, 2013 4:08PM
Mighty wings were around in the late '80s, early '90s when I worked for McDs.
Jan 16, 2013 6:16PM
Maybe founder Ray Kroc (died in '84) is looking down at his legacy and says "Who could have imagined a former milk shake machine salesman founding a global empire of 33, 000 sites"?   A green McDs is the busiest fast food shop in my hometown.  At least he didn't name it "Kroc's". 

Jan 16, 2013 7:15PM
I like McDonalds but hate that they have gone to more expensive sandwiches !!!  Love the dollar menu !!!
Jan 16, 2013 7:10PM
Since McD's is famous for their boneless McRib maybe they should try boneless wings. Sorry but no way no how will I spend 3 bucks for 3 bone in wings that is like three small bites of fat for 3 bucks just give me a Big Mac probably for about the same calorie / fat hit..and you can bite it more than once....
Jan 16, 2013 6:53PM
I like eating at McDonalds. I like the burger products and I have been going since the early 70s. One doesn't go to McDonalds to eat healthy.  And one surely doesn't go there for chicken.  If I want bird, I go to Brown's, Popeye's or Boston Market. To each their own.   
Jan 16, 2013 5:07PM
Disgusting food......that is McDonalds.  They used to have a good apple-bran muffin about 12 years ago, & I would get that with a coffee on my ride in to work.  But of course, they stopped carrying the muffin.   So now if one doesn't want eggs, bacon, or sausage, or pancakes for bkfst., they're $hit out of luck.
Jan 27, 2013 6:31PM
I just tried the 3-piece here in the Chicago area.  I'd say they are about as good, and maybe better, than what one would get in a sit-down restaurant.  They have a very nicely seasoned crunchy coating, and the wings are meaty.   I got the Chipotle barbeque dipping sauce with mine and discovered one obvious problem is the condiment packaging.  Exactly how does McDonald's expect a person to "dip" the wing into the very small rectangular condiment packet?  It doesn't work.    I actually do hope they keep them.  It's a nice alternative to the dreaded Chicken McNuggets.
Aug 16, 2013 7:40PM
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