A little over a year ago, McDonald's tested a new product, Mighty Wings, in the Atlanta market. And Atlanta-based Serious Eats columnist Todd Brock got his hands on them. His review of the then 'limited release' wings can be found here: McDonald's Debuts Mighty Wings in Atlanta, They're Actually Mighty Good.
Now, go back and actually read the damn review. I'll wait.
Pretty good piece, right?
This month, McDonald's launched its Mighty Wings nationwide, so we felt a follow-up was in order. So what, if anything, has changed? It seems fair to highlight a couple of things Todd said, drop in a couple of updates, sprinkle some photos here and there, and wrap it on up. Whaddya say?
"They have a genuinely spicy kick."
The 2013 version hasn't lost a step in the spice department. Again, not "hot wings" in the traditional sense (though I'm pretty sure "hot wings" usually refers to a chicken wing with a hot sauce application), but spicy enough to satisfy people who currently have two or more unique bottles of hot sauce in their pantry/fridge. Undoubtedly, some customers will find the spice unpleasant. They're wrong.
"A word about sauces"
No changes to the sauce offerings (Creamy Ranch, Honey Mustard, Spicy Buffalo, BBQ, and Sweet & Sour). No real need, either. Now as they did then, the wings stand well on their own merit. The sauces were more enjoyable than other recent offerings from Popeye's, so there's that. (Note: Americans love sauces, but 'more' does not always equal 'better.') It's important to note that, given the Mighty Wings size (see wing vs. cell phone picture below), McDonald's may want to consider reengineering the sauce containers rather than just using the same Chicken McNugget packages. It's easy to mush a McNugget into a thumb sized BBQ sauce; a firm, bone-in wing is another matter.
"Some wings showed patchy bare spots."
None that I noticed, actually, but admittedly I didn't look very hard. I housed 10 Mighty Wings in, oh, roughly the same number of minutes. Lay off me, I was starving (man, I hope someone gets this reference).
"I feel like McDonald's could have a perception problem to overcome if they are to go wide."
I feel you on this one, Todd. They're working hard, sure, as evidenced by their new commercials featuring NFL Quaterbacks Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick, but I doubt "McDonald's" comes to mind in the first 10 places you think about when you're craving chicken wings. The best thing McDonald's has going for it is the taste, and that's huge, maybe?
I don't remember waiting particularly long for my 10-piece order of Mighty Wings (still being served in two 5-piece boxes, by the way; c'mon, McDonald's, that's rookie stuff...), but I also downed a small McCafé Mocha Frappé while I was waiting, so maybe I got lost in the sugar rush. A $9.19, 10-piece order also chimes in at 960 calories. Both the price and the calorie count struck me as large then, and I don't feel any better about either when writing this now.
Yes, this review is light on the product itself. Everything Todd said about the crispiness, juiciness, and meatiness still holds true a year later. I can't say it any better then he did, folks: