Chicago has been selected as McDonald's chosen city for the newest round of Mighty Wings trials. Being served in 500 of Chicago's McDonald's stores, the chicken wings promotion will last until March 2013. After a welcomed trial in Atlanta, the fast food chain is hoping to gather more enthusiasm out of the Chicago crowd before going national with the new menu item.
So how mighty are these wings? I stopped in at a participating Chicago McDonald's at 3122 W. Touhy Ave. to put them to the taste test.
Are McDonald's Mighty Wings Tasty?
When ordering, the McDonald's employee gave me many sauce options, including buffalo sauce, creamy ranch, chipotle barbecue, and spicy barbecue -- and I opted for all of them.
As soon as I opened the box, I was pleased. The bone-in Mighty Wings had a crunchy breading that was still attached, and they didn't seem to be soaked in grease, at close to 100 calories per wing. After crunching into one, I quickly decided that I liked the breading, but found the meat to be slightly chewy, tough, and dry. In their defense, they did have quite a bit of meat on them, and the flavor mirrored that of other popular fast food chicken wing brands like KFC, Church's Chicken, etc. In fact, the flavor of McDonald's grease had a cleaner taste than that of other chains around the Chicago area, like Popeyes.
As for the sauces, I am always drawn to buffalo sauce, so I tried the spicy buffalo sauce first. It was similar in taste to the Frank's brand of buffalo sauce, and I was not let down with the touch of heat. Although I initially thought I would like the buffalo the best, the chipotle barbecue really stood out, as it had a nice kick to it. The others didn't really make an impression on me.
Overall, though, on a day when I'm craving some wings with buffalo sauce with no time for a sit-down meal at places like Bird's Nest or Toon's Bar & Grill, McDonald's would probably be the first place to come to mind, especially with its convenient locations throughout Chicago. The Mighty Wings certainly beat the spongy chicken nuggets McDonald's sells.
And Chicago resident Anna Jones summed up Chicago's Mighty Wings campaign quite nicely with two simple words: "I'm hooked!"
Chicago Becomes Second Test Market
Atlanta got the first bid for the Mighty Wings and completed a successful campaign. Chicago has become only the second city to taste them since failed chicken wing trials in the 1990s. Picking Chicago as the next test market is only natural, considering McDonald's is based out of Oak Brook, Illinois. The Mighty Wings are something of a treat, considering they would most likely end up as a limited promotion if they did go nationwide, due to the rising costs of chicken wings. The impact of such a large chain selling chicken wings would have to be considered, since the price of chicken wings would probably increase with demand rising from McDonald's and other competitors. With that said, the wings did seem to be a little pricey already, at about $1 per wing. When I ordered, the three-piece option was $2.99, five pieces were $4.99, and a 10-piece order was $8.99.
Future of Mighty Wings
After appearing in the '90s and finally resurfacing again in 2012, the future of Mighty Wings seems to be fragile, but the rollout in a big city like Chicago could also mean that McDonald's is testing how profitable the wings would be on a larger scale.
According to a securities analyst for Sterne Agee, Lynne Collier, "It is likely that we will continue to see additional McDonald's markets featuring wings and would not rule out a national launch in the future."
Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.