McDonald's Chicken Wings Don't Fly for This Reviewer

Minyanville asked me to take off my health-care hat temporarily for an important assignment: Review McDonald's (MCD) new chicken wings, which are being tested in Chicago.

I figure that I'm uniquely qualified to review this product for a couple of reasons. I live in Chicago and, like many of my football-loving brothers, I can't resist good chicken wings.

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McDonald's Mighty Wings were just promoted in Atlanta and are now being sold on a trial basis in almost 500 Chicago-area restaurants. I did a little homework prior to my restaurant trip, which unfortunately reminded me that a woman in Virginia found a fried chicken head in her food order when McDonald's previously tested wings on the menu in late 2000. The hideous discovery was dubbed Chicken McNoggin. Being a pro, I shook off that picture of the head and set out to do my job.

Lucky for me, I found the wings at the first McDonald's I visited. There was even a two-wing sampler available for a $1. I bought two. Normally, the wings are sold in orders of three, five and 10 starting at about $3. (Three is more than enough.) Are they good? I asked the young woman at the drive-through. "They're amazing," she assured me. Just then, that chicken head seemed like a distant memory.

I have a simple rule of thumb for eating bad food. If it's going to shave years off my life, it should at least taste good. And how can chicken wings not taste good?

Now these Mighty Wings are not Buffalo style. They're deep-fried and, as the name implies, they're not small. They're actually quite big. As I said, three will fill you up -- maybe even sedate you for a couple of hours. The wings are also very greasy and messy. I can’t imagine this would be a good thing for regular lunch. You can choose a sauce to go with the wings (which includes Buffalo) but I don't see that the condiments add much more than additional calories, salt, and sugar. I chose a ranch (the default sauce) and hot mustard (which was sweet). These are the same sauces they offer for McNuggets.

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The chicken itself was pretty disappointing. The box the wings come in says "crispy with a spicy kick of flavor." The box also says "big, crispy, spicy, meaty, juicy, bone-in chicken." The wings are crispy but I can't say they live up to the rest of the billing. To me, that tantalizing description sounds like tasty Korean-style chicken wings (the kind worth shaving years off your life). No dice. The McDonald's wings remind me of the chicken that used to come in TV dinners. The spice is pretty tame.

Let's just say McDonald's isn't about to dethrone Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD), Yum Brands' (YUM) KFC, or even Domino's Pizza (DPZ) for decent wings.

There was no nutritional information on the wings' box and the company's website only carries that kind of detail on regular menu items. A McDonald's spokeswoman told me she couldn't divulge that information. What do I care? I took my health-care hat off when I pulled up to the drive-through.

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McDonald's is going to be testing the wings in Chicago through early March, or at least until another chicken head is found.

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