Joining other major fast food factories, McDonald's has announced a new menu item to be experimented with in Germany, McPlant Nuggets. Catering to appetites that are not only interested in chicken parts and have a hankering for deep-fried plant parts, consumers in the United States will have to wait a bit for these morsels of fried yumminess.
As recently reported by VegNews, "Plant-based McNuggets are now hitting the menu at 1,400 locations of McDonald's across Germany. This launch is the second product to come out of the fast-food giant's three-year development deal with vegan company Beyond Meat. The new nuggets are made with pea protein, corn, and wheat, and surrounded by a crispy tempura batter. The nationwide launch in Germany follows a successful test-run at locations in Stuttgart (Germany's sixth largest city) last August."
McDonald's initially introduced the McNugget after a 1977 study by the FDA demonstrated that "In the '50s and '60s, more Americans than ever were suffering from heart attacks, and doctors began to suspect saturated fats and red meat (like hamburgers) were at least partly to blame….To bring back consumers, the fast food chain started working on chicken items to round out its beef-forward menu, according to Time. The result: McDonald's chicken nuggets. And who better to formulate a recipe for the world's biggest fast-food chain than someone with royal experience? To help with McDonald's menu change, the company called on Rene Arend, a Luxembourg-born chef whose resume included making dinner for Queen Elizabeth II and the king of Belgium."
The first new creation for healthier eating was not a chicken nugget but an onion nugget. That's right, basically a non-circular onion ring. "Onion Nuggets, introduced in the 1970s, were chunks of onion, fried, breaded, and served with dipping sauce. This unusual marriage of onion rings and chicken nuggets proved pretty unpopular. Luckily, though, the company would introduce Chicken McNuggets in 1980, and the rest is history."
Demand is capitalism's default reason for decisions about profit. However, demand and desire can be created and manipulated– as Adam Curtis has demonstrated in his series of films, The Century of the Self. As reported by CBS News, "European customers have generally been more receptive to McDonald's plant-based meat products than those in the U.S. The McPlant burger is now a permanent menu item in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria and the Netherlands. Last month, McDonald's rolled out the Double McPlant burger in the U.K. and Ireland."
Perhaps in a similar vein as in the 1970s, more people are concerned with fast food's health and nutritional value, causing McDonald's to make yet another shift in its market(ing) strategy. Yet, will these plant-based McNuggets fly in the US market?
Limited demand caused Panda Express to recently pull from the market its "limited time" Beyond Meat Orange Chicken* after experimenting in a variety of markets beginning in July 2021. So, on that note, how can McDonald's create demand in the United States?
Look out for a new spokesperson soon – Ronald McPlant, the vegan fast-food clown, who drives an electric car, plays guitar, especially Led Zepplin tunes, and lives off the grid with one of Matt S. Lyon's characters. Also, for each McPlant purchased, you will get a certificate confirming you have also purchased a carbon offset credit from Burger King (Note: nothing in this paragraph is true.)
For tasty nuggets of news about McDonald's other failed menu items, including the McLobster, the Hula Burger, the McAfrica, the McGratin Croquette, and others, click here.