chicken mcnuggets

How Chicken McNuggets Saved McDonald’s In The 1980s

The 80's Blog Dec 26, 2021

The 1980s was known for its wild fashion and great music, however it also gave rise to one of the most popular foods in history: The Chicken McNugget.

Of the many legends of fast food, McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets is one of the most popular, or notorious, depending on your perspective. Nonetheless, this bite size snacked has remained as popular as ever, making many wonder just when, how, and why was this creation conceived.


People don’t realize that this fun-sized dipping food once literally helped save McDonald’s from the brink of disaster. We know McDonald’s today as a corporate juggernaut, but back in the early 1980s, the company was struggling as more and more competitors began to enter the fast food space and sales began to drop.

With more and more competitors, McDonald’s needed a way to differentiate itself from the masses. Thus they set out on a quest to create a new product that would have mass appeal and once and for all establish McDonald’s as the number one fast food restaurant in the world.

The daunting task of creating this new product was left up to McDonald’s Executive Chef at the time René Arend, and in 1979 he came up with the first recipe for the “Chicken McNugget”.

Chef René Arend, Inventor Of The Chicken McNugget
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However despite its initial popularity, this new food was tough to bring to market as there simply wasn’t enough chicken to supply the demand. However eventually once supply chain issues were fixed, the Chicken McNugget went nationwide in 1983.

When the Chicken McNugget was introduced widely in 1983, it became an instant hit due to its affordability, convenience, and taste. In fact, it was so popular that it singlehandedly saved McDonald’s from going bankrupt. Sluggish sales turned around almost overnight, and McDonald’s was back in the game.

So what is it about the Chicken McNugget that makes it so popular?

For starters, it’s affordable, typically costing just around a couple dollars for a six-piece serving. It’s also convenient, as it can be eaten on the go, even when driving (though we don’t recommend that). But most importantly, the McNugget is delicious, with many claiming that it has a cult following that will never die!

Furthermore, and quite unexpectedly, was the Chicken McNugget’s smashing success with kids. Children across America demanded Chicken McNuggets for dinner, and parents were more than willing to buy some just to keep their kids satisfied.

However popular it was in its early years, interest in the Chicken McNugget has survived the test of time and is still very prevalent today. Since its creation billions of McNuggets have been sold worldwide, and that trend doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. And it should come as no surprise that this amazing food breakthrough happened during the best decade of all time, the 1980s.

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