It has been 39 years since McDonald’s introduced the Chicken McNugget, and now both KFC and Boston Market are introducing chicken nugget products.
Boston Market introduced roasted, not fried, Rotisserie Chicken Nuggets earlier this month. The Nuggets are made with white meat and are marinated with rotisserie chicken seasoning or spicy seasoning.
KFC also began testing a chicken nugget made with the chain’s signature 11 herbs and spices. (KFC had introduced its first response to Chicken McNuggets, Kentucky Nuggets, in 1985, according to Wikiwand's "History of KFC.") “We're targeting younger customers, like Gen Z and Millennials, who are interested in boneless chicken options," a KFC spokesperson told CNN. If the test goes well, the nuggets will replace the popcorn chicken that’s currently on menus.
A KFC rep told CNN that younger consumers aren’t interested in eating chicken on the bone. The effort comes as KFC reached positive net unit growth in the U.S. for the first time in 17 years.
McDonald’s brought back its Spicy Chicken McNuggets this spring, but they were in limited distribution. McDonald’s first introduced the item in 2020, making them the first new McNugget flavor in the U.S. since 1983. Wendy’s spicy chicken nuggets drove strong same-store sales after their initial launch in 2019, according to Restaurant Business.
The push comes after Popeyes introduced Chicken Nuggets to its menu in 2021.
One Achille’s heel of chicken nuggets is their nutritional content. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that chicken nuggets from two American fast-food chains were mostly fat. The authors of the study concluded that “Chicken nuggets are mostly fat and their name is a misnomer.”