Wait, what exactly goes into a McNugget anyway?

Sure, McDonald’s Japan has some unique menu items, like the “for-adults” Nikuatsu burgers that kicked off the new year, or the Asian Juicy sandwich lineup that’s just around the corner. There’s still plenty of overlap with the chain’s U.S. menu, though, and just like in McDonald’s country of origin, Chicken McNuggets are a long-time big-seller in Japan.

So it came as something of a shock to many people when McDonald’s Japan announced that it’s making a change to the ingredients in its Chicken McNuggets. We didn’t even know that was possible. It seems like the ingredient list should be pretty straightforward and non-flexible, right? After all, aren’t Chicken McNuggets just made of chicken and…uhh…nug…gets…?

Wait a second, just what the heck are chicken McNuggets made of? It’s a question we’ll admit to not having given much thought to before now, sort of like how we happily chowed down on Cup Noodles Mystery Meat for years without confirming its true composition.

Let’s start with the reassuring part first: McDonald’s Japan’s current Chicken McNuggets are made of chicken and breading, and the new-recipe ones are going to be too. The company isn’t going to be replacing the poultry with plant-based meat, nor with any other chicken substitute of more dubious or nebulous origin. Actually, you could make the argument that the ingredient shift is an upgrade. Currently, the meat that’s used for McDonald’s Japan’s Chicken McNuggets is a mix of ground chicken breast, thigh, and skin. The revised recipe, though is getting rid of the thigh meat, so the new McNuggets will be a breaded mix of breast and skin.

McDonald’s Japan says the change is a result of the company’s continual reevaluations of their supply chain in order to provide safe and delicious food in an environmentally sustainable way at competitive prices, without going into specific details about how removing thigh meat from the mix helps them achieve that goal.

Some online commenters in Japan say they’re intrigued at the prospect of more breast meat producing leaner, more refined-tasting McNuggets. On the other hand, thigh meat tends to be juicier, and others have expressed concern that the on-their-way thighless McNuggets may be lacking in moistness and flavor.

▼ Just to be safe, we took a commemorative photo of what we guess we’ll have to soon start calling “McNuggets Classic.”

There’re also one wild-card elements that aren’t addressed in McDonald’s announcement. First, the chain hasn’t revealed what the proportional mix of ingredients in either the old or new McNuggets is, so it’s just as possible that the thigh meat is being replaced entirely with cheaper, greasier skin as it is lean breast, or any other ratio in between.

For now, though, if you want one last taste of the breast-thigh-and-skin McNuggets, time is running out, as McDonald’s Japan says branches will begin transitioning to the new recipe from February 1.

Source: McDonald’s Japan
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