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McDonald’s Plays Chicken with McBites Test

Filed under Marketing, News, Test Market

McDonald’s is turning its attention to chicken, testing Chicken McBites in Detroit while it expands availability of its spicier McChicken sandwiches.

The more interesting development is McDonald’s test, beginning today, of the Chicken McBites menu item in Detroit. Interesting not just because it comes on the heels of Burger King’s reformulation of its Chicken Tenders but also because this is a rare instance of McDonald’s bringing to the U.S. a menu item developed elsewhere.

As reported here last November, McDonald’s first introduced Chicken McBites in Australia, positioning them as a crispier flanker to Chicken McNuggets. The McBites are 100% chicken breast-meat pieces in the style of KFC’s popular Popcorn Chicken. In Australia, McBites were advertised as having a “Southern-style coating.” Famed Aussie cricketer Shane Warne was ad spokesman for McBites down under but is unlikely to show up here. 

While McNuggets are priced by the piece, Chicken McBites are priced by weight. In Detroit they are being offered at $1.99 for a 4-oz. serving; $2.99 for 6 ounces and $4.99 for 12 ounces of McBites. Dipping sauce choices include Sweet Chili, Creamy Ranch, Spicy Buffalo, Honey Mustard, Sweet ‘n Sour and Tangy Barbecue.

Also in November, reported McDonald’s test of Jalapeño Cheddar and Cheddar Onion McChicken varieties in San Diego. The spicy sandwiches have spread throughout California, this week arriving in Southern California stores and across Texas. Operators contacted by could not say if McDonald’s intends to expand availability of the spicy McChickens or Chicken McBites to additional markets.

Commodity prices continue to help explain restaurant chains’ renewed interest in chicken on the menu. Chicken breast prices rose 9% between February and March, but remain 5% below prices a year ago, according to data from Brad Ludington, restaurant analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets. Meanwhile, beef prices in March were as much as 24% above year-earlier levels.

5 Responses to McDonald’s Plays Chicken with McBites Test

  1. Sully

    The Jalapeno Cheddar and Cheddar Onion McChicken sandwiches have begun showing up around the Houston, TX area. They are also made with the spicier Spicy McChiken patty. I have not had the chance to try them yet, but I am looking forward to the added flavor of one of my favorite spicy chicken sandwiches.

  2. i like chicken mc bites, very much so..

  3. Gail

    KFC’s Popcorn Chicken has better flavor, but McBites is a much better value, The difference in taste is not worth the extra cost. So McBites wins!

  4. Kim Ann

    I live in WV and the McBites were introduced here in November. I love the crispy crunchy little nuggets and don’t really care if they have big hunks of chicken in each one. They do remind me of popcorn chicken from KFC but I prefer the smaller chunks. The only problem I find is that they are sometimes overcooked which makes them really dry, but I munch away anyway. I know they are limited edition on the menu and dread the day they take them away…. kind of like the chocolate pie. (I hate that gooey, to sweet apple thing they call pie).

  5. Lucy

    I LOVE the McBites! They are VERY crispy and yummy with the honey mustard sauce!