Chicken nuggets have been a staple of fast food restaurants for decades. They’re the classic go-to fast food meal for millions of Americans every day. So, I decided to compare the chicken nuggets from four fast food chains. From each restaurant, I ordered ten chicken nuggets and judged them on the four categories that are described below.
- 1-5 points for the breading being consistently crunchy and crisp.
- 1-5 points for the chicken being firm, not spongy, and being moist.
- 1-5 points for the breading having consistently balanced seasoning.
- 1-5 points for the chicken having consistently balanced seasoning and a real chicken flavor.
- 1-5 points for the nuggets being a consistent size, the size should be either one bite size or two.
- 1-5 points on the visual presentation of the nuggets and packaging, including the color, freshness, and packaging of the nuggets.
- 5 points minus the price of ten nuggets. Example: if ten nuggets cost $2.19, then their score would be 2.81/5.
Meal in hand, I waited five minutes for a table to become available. The building was impressively packed for a fast food joint: there were people eating their meals on the patio in the 55° weather. When I finally found a table for two in the very corner of the restaurant, I sat down immediately. There was a distinct nutty aroma that is unique to Chick-fil-A: “We cook everything in 100% refined peanut oil, that’s what makes it special,” Chick-fil-A employee Danielle said.
When I opened the box of nuggets, that same smell filled my nose. Steam was rolling off of the freshly cooked nuggets, making it difficult to withhold from digging in long enough to take pictures of them. Finally, I took my first bite. The star of the show is definitely the textures with these nuggets. The breading has a sweet crunch from the peanut oil that pairs perfectly with the real and tender chicken that doesn’t normally come with fast food chicken nuggets.The cost of ten nuggets was $3.69, more expensive than the competitors, but was made up for in other categories. There was an inconsistency in the size of the nuggets, and most of them were an awkward bite and a half. Overall, these nuggets have their faults, but their textures and flavors put them at the score of 75/100.
Immediately upon entrance, the busy vibe overwhelmed me. Everything was unexpectedly renovated, with sleek white table tops and dark laminate walls. After I approached the counter and put in my order, I waited a full five minutes before receiving my ten nuggets. I sat down with my box of ten chicken nuggets and took the pictures before eating them. I wasn’t eager to dig in; grease coated the box and took over the smell of the chicken. The nuggets sat limply with an artificial golden glow. They didn’t touch the visual appeal their competitors had. Surprisingly, the price of ten nuggets was $3.19, the second most expensive of all of the competitors. Taking my first bite, I noticed a sweet undertone to the nuggets. The breading wasn’t very crunchy but was crispier than the chicken. The chicken was very spongy: barely staying together when pulled apart from the breading. Although the chicken itself didn’t have much flavor, the breading had a distinctly sweet flavor that was constantly prevalent. All McDonald’s nuggets really have going for them is their flavor, making their score 59/100.
The drive-thru line was full when I pulled into Burger King’s parking lot, but when I walked in there was not a single customer. I quickly ordered and received my ten nuggets and brought them to a table. These nuggets, unlike their competitors, came in a paper bag that led to the grease leaking through the bottom of the bag, tearing a hole in the bottom of the bag. The nuggets were freshly cooked and steam was rolling off of them. However, they had the artificial brown coloring that the nuggets from McDonald’s had. I bit into the nugget and was hit with the spongy textured chicken that is typical with fast food chicken nuggets. While the chicken was spongy, it was firmer than McDonald’s. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the cost of ten nuggets is $1.49. These nuggets are the best value compared to the other nuggets, which almost makes up for their lack of flavor. These nuggets were by far the blandest out of the competitors, the only flavor being the overwhelming amount of pepper in the breading. There was a floury texture dusted onto the breading of the nuggets that lingered in my mouth long after the nuggets were finished. Overall, these nuggets are the best value, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of quality in texture, flavor, or appearance, putting them in last place at 56/100.
The cold rain didn’t help the fact that the inside and outside of the building was very old fashioned and in need of renovation. Even with nobody in line in front of me, minutes passed until a cashier could take my order: the drive-thru was packed. I was charged $2.65 for ten nuggets, a fair price compared to the competitors. After a full five minutes, I received the nuggets and brought them to my seat. They were fairly cold: definitely not freshly fried. The breading was a little bit darker than the McDonald’s and Burger King’s nuggets, but the same artificial golden glow was present. When I bit into the nugget, the inside was much warmer than the outside. The breading had the perfect crunch, contrasting strongly to the chicken. The chicken was spongy like most of its competitors but was firmer than the rest. The breading was well seasoned, black pepper flakes were visible throughout and there was a hint of sweetness to it. The chicken really didn’t have a flavor of its own which seemed to be normal compared to the competitors. All in all, Wendy’s nuggets had a well flavored breading and a nice texture, putting them in second place with 70/100 points.
At the end of this experiment, I never wanted to touch another chicken nugget again. The highest score of the four competitors was 75%, which says a lot about chicken nuggets as a whole. It seems like there’s not a fast food nugget that hits it out of the park on all four categories. Chick-Fil-A was the best in texture and flavor, Wendy’s in texture appearance, Mcdonald’s in appearance, and Burger King in value. The safest way to find the best nugget is to choose which category is personally most important and choose the nuggets to eat based on that.