Food Writer's Diary

Tasting the Mighty Wings

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McDonald’s has once again enlisted an athlete to promote a new menu item, but health isn’t the focus this time, football is. 

McDonald’s new Mighty Wings aren’t especially good for you. They’re not toxic or anything — a 5-piece order weighs in at a reasonable 480 calories, with 31 grams of fat (7 grams of them saturated), 20 grams of carbohydrate and 1450mg of sodium — but they don’t have the health halo of the Egg White Delight, for which McDonald’s enlisted the help of Olympics gymnast Gabby Douglas, or the Premium McWrap, for which then-New York Knicks forward Steve Novak touted its convenience and nutrition

But the Mighty Wings are chicken wings — the appetizer most intimately tied to football. So McDonald’s brought New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz to the chain’s iconic Times Square location and invited local press to ask him questions while he just generally added his considerable star appeal to the proceedings.

This is a picture of him listening to a question from a Spanish speaking member of the media, which Mr. Cruz answered in Spanish, so I don’t know what he said. Earlier on he answered questions about what he ate as a kid when watching football games growing up in New Jersey (he said he ate dishes like arroz con pollo or whatever his abuela cooked).

He also is apparently no stranger to chicken wings, and he demonstrated his enthusiasm for them at this press conference that officially launches the wings, which will be available through October, or while supplies last, for $2.99 for three pieces, $4.79 for five pieces and $8.99 for 10 pieces, although of course prices may vary by location blah blah blah [insert required disclaimers typical for any franchise organization here].

Jim Lewis, the franchisee for the Times Square location, said they’d been available at his restaurants for about a week. 

This particular version of McDonald’s chicken wings are inspired by the large wings sold at the chain’s Hong Kong locations, according to the press release McDonald’s handed out at the event.

They are, indeed, pretty big wings, with a nice crunch and a spicy kick in the breading, which is spiked with a hot pepper blend.

Lewis told me this isn’t the first time McDonald’s has offered wings; he said they had them about 15 years ago, too. 

“We ran, frankly, into supply issues and demand issues,” he told me.

It seems like those issues would be even more challenging today, but Lewis said the fact that it was a relatively short limited-time offering helped offset that.

He also pointed out that the wing promotion tied in well with the current $4.99 20-piece McNugget promotion to reinforce the idea that McDonald’s is a place to go for group snacking during football season.

I hadn’t thought of that.

September 20, 2013: This entry has been edited for clarity and to correct typographical errors.

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Food Writer's Diary is a blog written by Bret Thorn, senior food editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, which covers culinary trends and his adventures.

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Bret Thorn

Bret Thorn is responsible for reporting on culinary trends in foodservice for Nation's Restaurant News. He joined NRN in 1999, after spending about five years as a journalist in Thailand, where...
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