McDonald's (MCD) is planning to offer chicken wings at its U.S. restaurants starting Sept. 9 and going through November, according to a report published on a restaurant news site Friday.
BurgerBusiness said that Mighty Wings, which previously have been tested, will be marketed nationally and priced starting at $2.99 for three. McDonald's is also reported to be preparing to sell five and 10-piece orders of the wings.
The report didn't contain dietary information for the Mighty Wings, but one weight-loss site pegs a five-piece order at 480 calories. For reference, six McNuggets have 280 calories, Burger King's (BKW) five-piece Chicken Strips are listed at 610 calories, and at Domino's (DPZ), an order of eight hot wings will contain between 410 and 490 calories.
As fast-food restaurants fend off ever-building calls in the press, from public health advocates and, in some cases, from government officials to change their ways, a larger number of meals ostensibly healthier than the widely found ground beef, melted cheese and fries have made their way on to menus -- salads, yogurts, egg whites and veggie burgers, among them. And chicken, regularly seen as a nutritionally superior alternative to fast-food beef hamburgers.
For McDonald's, its hope is that new and special products, even if temporary like the Fish McBites a few months ago or the Mighty Wings now, will keep customers coming in and spending. Same-store sales have been sluggish for months. The slow global economy has weighed on its results, it's not been able to hike prices as much as it wants, and it's got to deal with the Chipotle (CMG) and Panera Bread (PNRA) stores, viewed as better for you when you want food fast.
Though the addition of wings appears to be set only for a limited time, it does mark the newest entrant to McDonald's chicken lineup, yet it is one that's been there before, in addition to the recent testing. The National Chicken Council (NCC) says the restaurant operator first tried wings in 1990. Earlier this year, the Oak Brook, Ill., chain started selling the chicken McWrap, on top of the chicken sandwiches and Chicken McNuggets it already offered. McDonald's communications department didn't respond to an emailed request for comment on the report.
Wings, in particular spicy Buffalo wings, are a big business, and are found everywhere from your local bar to pizza makers like Pizza Hut, and to Wingstop and Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD). Several sauces will be available with the McDonald's version, including spicy Buffalo and honey mustard, BurgerBusiness reported.
The NCC has projected that more than 13 billion chicken wings will be marketed this year, amounting to around 3 billion pounds. Because wings tend to be cut in two, the truer number of wings that will be sold is approximately 26.5 billion.
In total, consumer spending on chicken was some $70 billion in 2011.