Fast Food: McDonald’s Mighty Wings

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taken to this blog to chronicle my fast food adventures, but the gap has been for good reason. There was a period of silence for fast food innovation and that led my lack of inspiration. Over that time the only new item that seemed to be generating any buzz was the $1 French Fry Burger from Burger King. I’m not going to waste anyone’s time writing about a plain cheeseburger that Burger King decided to throw four French Fries on top of. I’ve seen people (mainly those who like to have a little fun with their food) create this burger a million times, so excuse me if I’m not impressed.

Seriously? What stoned employee tossed this “innovation” together?

The only thing that got me through this fast food dry spell was the rumblings about McDonald’s newest item….Mighty Wings! Word starting spreading a couple of weeks ago about McDonald’s getting ready to re-introduce their version of a chicken wing. Mighty Wings are a deep-fried, spicy chicken wing that McDonald’s offered at some of their US locations during the 90’s. Certain countries, including China and Spain, have been enjoying this item more recently, but this is the first time McDonald’s has had bone-in chicken in the United States in over 10 years. The availability of the Mighty Wings is still a little unclear. The original nationwide release date was set for September 9th, but I made my way to my local McDonald’s that Monday and saw the same old menu staring me in the face…FAIL! After a little research I found out that the release was now going to be regional and take place between the September 9th and the 24th…FAIL #2! Fortunately enough, my local McDonald’s was near the top of the release list. Once I got word that it was finally time, I made my way down and ordered the largest serving on the menu: the 10-piece Mighty Wing meal!

One of the first things that many people look at with a new item is the size and price. Mighty Wings are offered in three sizes: 3-piece, 5-piece and 10-piece, and they cost about $1 per wing. My local McDonald’s offered the 3 piece for $2.99, the 5 piece for $4.79, and the 10-piece for $8.99. Those looking for a full meal can get five Mighty Wings, a small fry, and a small drink for $6.99 – which is right in line with the 10-piece McNugget meal and still cheaper than the Big Mac or Quarter Pounder meal. The wings themselves are about the same size as traditional chicken wings, maybe even a little bigger, so the 3-piece seems geared towards “snack time” with the 5- and 10-piece better suited for full meals.

Before I get started with my Mighty Wings experience I need to clear up a common misconception: Mighty Wings are NOT meant to be buffalo wings. They do not come sauced, and McDonald’s breads them before frying them, something you do not do with traditional buffalo wings. What McDonald’s has created with Mighty Wings is an item that is more comparable to KFC’s crispy chicken wings, and though the wings are un-sauced they do have cayenne and chili powder in the breading, allowing you to still receive some heat without the mess of buffalo sauce. The amount of heat that wings should provide is a point of constant debate amongst fans, but I think McDonald’s hit the nail on the head with their seasoning. After only a couple of wings I could feel the heat on my lips. It did not force me to gulp down half of my soda, but it certainly refused to be ignored. Overall, I found the wing itself to be extremely satisfying. There was plenty of meat on the bone, and it had just the right amount of breading to allow the wings to be crispy without shifting the breading to chicken ratio in the wrong direction. The wings were not too greasy (my main gripe with KFC), and because the meat is still on the bone you can feel confident that you aren’t eating the famous “pink slime” from the McNuggets.

For those looking for a stronger flavor profile, McDonald’s offers the same dipping sauces that you are familiar with for chicken nuggets: honey mustard, tangy barbecue, sweet n’ sour, creamy ranch, sweet chili, and spicy buffalo. Spicy buffalo was the obvious first choice for sauce, and I opted for creamy ranch for my second sauce. Before the purists start writing their hate mail about using ranch instead blue cheese please try and understand that I was only using what I had to work with. I didn’t have any blue cheese dressing in my car, so I had to settle for what McDonald’s offered (note to self: store blue cheese dressing in my car). Dipping the wings in the buffalo sauce made them more comparable to traditional buffalo wings, but it is tough to get them well-coated without creating a huge mess. I considered pouring the sauce in the box and giving it a good shake, but coating myself rather than the wings seemed like a likely outcome. Even after adding the sauce, the fact that the wings are breaded make it obvious that you are not eating a regular buffalo wing.

If you are a die-hard buffalo wing fan, Mighty Wings are not for you. You likely won’t be able to get past the breading and the lack of sauce. There are some wing joints that lightly bread their wings before they fry them (a sin in my opinion), but the amount of breading that McDonald’s uses pushes these wings closer to the realm of regular fried chicken. With that being said, once I looked at these as fried chicken wings it was easy to call them a success. The wings were crunchy, not greasy, and had the perfect amount of seasoning. There is no need to worry though because Mighty Wings aren’t going to pose a threat to any of your favorite wing spots. Places like Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters still have a few things that McDonald’s can’t compete with: beer, sports, beer, better looking waitresses (usually), and BEER! The restaurants that do need to take note are the fast food places that specialize in chicken, namely KFC and Popeyes. Those two restaurants are in serious trouble if Mighty Wings gain a strong following. McDonald’s has introduced the wings as a limited time offer, but if they are a strong seller I’m sure they would be more than happy to take profits from their competitors. Initial reactions seem positive, and I know that I have my fingers crossed that Mighty Wings are here to stay!