Back to all articles

The History of McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets

In the 1970s, McDonald’s executive chef, René Arend, was recipe-testing “onion nuggets.” Reportedly, Chairman Fred Turner suggested using chicken instead and shortly thereafter, Chicken McNuggets were born. Gorton’s Bud Sweeney, who had helped McDonald’s develop the Filet-O-Fish years earlier, was brought in along with a dedicated team to help perfect the breading, conduct market testing, and make sure all the necessary machinery was in place to make them. In 1983, Chicken McNuggets were officially added to the McDonald’s menu. They were originally available in 6-, 9-, and 20-piece sizes and came with your choice of four sauces: Honey, Sweet and Sour, Hot Mustard, or Barbecue. (Since then, over 25 different sauces have been introduced.) In 1984, Chicken McNuggets made their international debut in Canada, France, Japan, and Germany. They reached England a year later. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, McDonald’s commercials featuring Chicken McNuggets mascots aired on TV and there was even a Happy Meal toy tie-in. In 2003, all-white-meat Chicken McNuggets were introduced. In 2016, the chain announced that they would only serve chicken not treated with certain antibiotics. In 2020, McDonald’s released a limited-edition spicy version aptly named Spicy Chicken McNuggets. Today, Chicken McNuggets remain a popular and iconic menu item at McDonald’s.

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.