Fast Food Chicken Nuggets, Power Ranked


The La Brea McDonald’s was so bright that it was almost glowing. I blinked as I entered, filled with uncertainty. How was this McDonald’s brighter than the sun outside? And why was it so clean? It was shockingly clean. I looked around, confused.

“Is this nicer than my apartment?” I wondered. “I think it’s nicer than my apartment. I want to live in this McDonald’s.”

There was something about the physics of the place that seemed off. Like, a McDonald’s had no right to be so pristine and shiny. I began wondering if I’d had a massive heart attack on my way in, died, and this was the light I had followed to the afterlife. “Probably not, but hard to say,” I thought, eyeing the man outside of the bathrooms who was sweeping absolutely nothing up off of the spotless floor. It was suspicious.

“Hades henchman might just look like a normal guy sweeping,” I thought. “That is, until he shoves you onto a boat and ferries you to the underworld.”

“Do you want to order something?” The woman at the counter asked, interrupting this dreamy reverie.

She seemed confused about why a visibly pregnant woman was standing in the middle of a fast food restaurant, slowly turning in a circle, an expression of wonder on her face — as if she’d just stepped from the black and white world of Kansas into the vibrant technicolor of Oz. Her reaction was understandable.

“I just need a minute,” I said, my purse heavy with bags from other fast food establishments. “Just one second.”

Most people wouldn’t have reacted to McDonald’s as if they were stepping into the Four Seasons and/or a gleaming, yet terrifying afterlife. But most people weren’t on their fourth fast food restaurant of the day, purse literally overflowing with a chicken nugget bounty. Most people don’t have the chicken nugget sweats at 12pm on a work day. “Most people” are lucky fucking people.

Here’s a realization you never want to have when you’re only 1/3 of the way through a day of consuming roughly 50-75 chicken nuggets: “I don’t really like chicken nuggets.” There. I said it. I didn’t realize this when I started this dumb assignment, but I sure learned it. And let me tell you this revelation was akin to 911 calling you to let you know the calls are coming from inside the house (right before the line goes dead and the power goes out). It means terrible things are about to go down.

I was hungry when I took that first bite of a fast food nugget after many years away. And as the taste of soggy cardboard filled my mouth, I thought, “Oh no. NO. THIS IS WHAT THEY TASTE LIKE? No. Noooooooooooooo.” That’s the moment in the horror movie when I ran towards the dark, basement stairs instead of getting the hell out. The only way out was deeper into the abyss. No escape; no exit. Ronald McDonald was coming for me. And the clown wanted blood.

Plus, I’d already asked our graphic designer to make the pictures.

* * *

I started this nugget journey with genuine hope. I remember chicken nuggets as being a delicious childhood treat. Plus, look at all the press nugs were getting lately. If a kid was inspired to get millions of retweets in order to get Wendy’s chicken nuggets for a year, then they must be good, right? Man, looking back. I was really on board with that whole scenario. Maybe too on board, to be honest. “GIVE THE BOY HIS NUGS!” I said loudly to anybody who would listen. I even changed my Facebook status to help him, something I usually reserve for important political posts that definitely make a difference and videos of babies snuggling with cats.

So going into this whole thing, I thought this was going to be delicious, easy. I thought it would be fun.

It wasn’t. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Why do I keep making the same mistakes again and again? Eating this much fast food is literally never a good idea. I’m not a doctor, but if I saw me from the outside, continually choosing to eat copious amounts of fast food over and over again, I’d think, “Were you dropped on your head as a child?”

Well, for your information. I was dropped on my head as a child. I was two years old, and my father slipped on the ice (he does not think this is funny yet, because I fractured my skull. Even though it’s been forever and the only lasting damage is that I am a horrible degenerate who ranks fast food online for a living).

I digress. Point being, I went to fast food after fast food establishment and gobbled down nuggets like it was a fire sale and they were going to run out at some point. And before you ask, “Yes, I ordered other things.” Smoothies, fries, a biscuit….there genuinely seems to be no bottom to the depths in which I will sink.

And I feel…. weary, dear reader. The world is not only comprised of the shining beacon of light that is the McDonald’s on La Brea Avenue. Life is fraught with dingy KFCs, questionable Burger King bathrooms with urine absolutely everywhere, and a Wendy’s with impossibly skinny parking spaces. The path I walk is a lonely one. I am beset on all sides by high cholesterol and breaded nuggets. But I persevere. And will continue to. If only so that you know whether Burger King or Mickey D’s has the best nugs. If only for that.

This is your list of fast food chicken nuggets, power ranked.

For this list we will be rating using, “Chickens I would personally hunt down and murder in order to eat these horribly processed monstrosities (which I don’t actually like).” Yes, this is a particularly dark ranking system. But chickens died for these nugs, guys. Let’s be realistic about that. If you aren’t okay with that reality then you should try MorningStar Buffalo veggie chicken nuggets. Which. Are. Delicious.

7. McDonald’s

I know this is going to cause some outrage. Chicken nuggets from McDonald’s are remembered very fondly by all. I get that. We still think a lot of things from our youth are drastically different from their reality. Like I still think that if I watched Are You Afraid Of the Dark that it would be truly scary or that Love Actually is one of the greatest films of all time, despite quite a lot of evidence and think pieces to the contrary. It’s exceedingly easy to allow our memories to dominate our current experiences just because we want to capture that intangible feeling of our childhood. But that’s not my job. My job is to tell you what actually tastes the best. And McDonald’s chicken nuggets taste like the aftermath of a night vomiting one too many vodka sodas.

On other Internet lists of ranked chicken nuggets, McDonald’s nuggets are ranked really high. I have to think that is entirely due to a nostalgia factor or that all the writers’ taste buds were burned out of their mouths as children. There is no other explanation. These are awful.

Like I don’t even get a hint of chicken in them. The coating is waxy and tasteless. They don’t really have a smell which is troubling. I DON’T KNOW WHAT THESE ARE GUYS BUT THEY AREN’T FOOD RELATED. Maybe McDonald’s chicken nuggets were created to sit on the table of a model home, and one day, a prospective buyer ate one thinking they were real.

“This is great dipped in BBQ sauce,” the buyer said to the horrified realtor. But before she could stop him, other people at the open house began grabbing the nugs made of clay from the bowl, and exclaiming how delicious they were. It was a real Emperor’s Coat type of situation. The incredulous woman knew they weren’t really food, but she also knew a business opportunity when she saw one. She sold the ‘recipe’ to McDonalds and the rest was history.

Rating: I’d murder one chicken thinking these sounded pretty good. But I’d regret it after and have a little chicken funeral in the backyard where I’d read the Irish prayer about the road rising up to meet you. And I’d cry, and raise the chicken’s babies as my own. I’d send them to good schools and everything. Because my bad, chicken, my bad.

6. Jack in the Box

Note: These are not popular enough to even have instagram photos taken of them. So instead of me taking the time to pull another appropriate internet image, please enjoy this photo of kitten in a top hat. YOU’RE WELCOME
These were fine. Better than McDonald’s in that they have just a wee bit of kick to them. Like a dying horse who makes one final brave attempt to stand up.

Wow. I’m really sorry for all the dead animal references here. I did not expect that. I could delete them of course. I’m writing this in Microsoft Word, and not with a fountain pen, and then mailing the list to you all individually sealed with the wax of my blood red family crest. Though, if that IS how you’re reading this…. man…. there’s probably some anthrax in that envelope. I don’t know why anyone would go the trouble of writing down my chicken nugget ranking list and sending it to you unless they really wanted kill you with anthrax. Maybe you deserve it, I don’t know. I’m not an anthrax sending expert. But you are going to die. So….I’ll try to give you the same funeral I’d give to a chicken I liked. It’s the least I can do.

Bottom Line: These were small, and disappointing — like seeing your favorite celebrity in person. They’re all so tiny!

Rating: Two chickens. The first chicken I’d murder for the nuggets, and the second because I’m not the kind of gal who leaves any witnesses. I ain’t goin’ away to the big house again, see.

5. KFC Popcorn Nuggets

I loved these as a kid. I remember when they were discontinued that I was devastated. So I was interested to see how they stood up! And at first bite, I really liked them again! “Finally,” I thought, “a good chicken nugget.” But on the second or third piece, it occurred to me that these were ALL breading. Albeit, well-seasoned breading. But there is a microscopic amount of chicken in them. I swear- most pieces didn’t have any chicken in them at all. They were just sad, breading balls.

I started to feel sick by the 4th popcorn nugget, too much seasoning, so much breading. By the 5th, my life started flashing before my eyes. God, there was so much I still wanted to do, and accomplish! On the 6th, a lawyer was telling me to sign a will that I don’t remember making out. “Where did you come from?” I asked. “And when did I agree to donate all of my furniture to the fictional Colonel Sanders?”

Around the 7th piece, I blacked out. Now, I’m in a Las Vegas Hotel room with a live tiger, a missing tooth, and a full face tattoo. I’m not worried about it though. Hijinks!!!

Rating: 3 Chickens. Not because they particularly need the meat for these, but because I suspect the breading has bath salts in it and it’s either murder chickens or try to eat off someone’s face on a bridge.

4. Carl’s Jr.

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#zipkick #chickenstars #foodie😍 #zipkickbloggers

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These get a LOT of points for being shaped into delightful stars. I like that Carl’s Jr isn’t pretending these are real meat. “We can literally press nuggets into anything because they have so many chemicals mixed in!” They boast in a commercial that only I can see (the TV is just a fuzzy Poltergeist-like screen that talks to me all day, obviously).

They’re also surprisingly tasty. Just a little bit of crunch, a bit of a peppery flavor. I would say these aren’t the worst choice in the world when you want a chicken nug. Is it possible that everyone in the restaurant will think you look like a grade A moron for ordering chicken stars as a grown adult? Sure. But that’s a risk you have to take. You know what they say! Without great risk, there is no reward. For every person who invested early in a dumb sounding site called “Google” there are about a million more who invested in service that hand delivered cow print socks to phone book companies. Sure, in hindsight whimsical cow print socks weren’t a sound investment, but who could have seen THAT twist coming. Certainly, not you. You’re not psychic.

Ranking: 4 Chickens. And then I’ll start sending notes to the police like the zodiac killer with hints about who I am and how many chickens I’ve murdered and how no chicken can escape me because I’m always there, in the shadows of the chicken coop, watching. Why did the chicken cross the road? BECAUSE IT SAW ME COMING.

3. Chick-fil-A

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Afternoon snack. #ChickfilANuggets

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Chick-fil-A makes a quality chicken product!!” And then the priest will say, “We get it. Can you please stop repeating that over and over again, this is a funeral. Do you even know the deceased?” And I’ll say, “It’s just good chicken, Father. You know it. I know it. That woman sobbing over her husband’s corpse knows it.” And then I’ll be forcibly removed from the premises like I always am.

Their breading is just always on point. The chicken is juicy and feels like real chicken. I wish that they were spicy, but I don’t hate that they aren’t as much as I did when I tried breakfast sandwiches. These are solid.

Ranking: 5 Chickens. There’s so much blood. An endless amount. And the screams… sometimes I still hear them in my dreams…. squawking….was it worth it? They ask me, drenched in a “Carrie” amount of blood, shaking, muttering to myself about how ‘the early bird gets his head chopped off’ Maybe not. But then again, I made a promise that I would personally murder chickens to a bunch of people scanning this list on the toilet during their lunch break. And if I broke that promise to you all, well, then I’d be just as bad as Jeremy in accounting and his continual insistence that he’s going to ‘bring in donuts on Friday’. No you won’t, Jeremy. And we’re sick of having to say, thanks, that would be great for SOMETHING THAT NEVER COMES.

2. Burger King

This one totally surprised me. Burger King chicken nuggets are (gasp) good? The breading wasn’t overly seasoned but also wasn’t totally bland. And they tasted like chicken. Not totally like chicken, but enough that I felt good about them. Look, chicken nuggets are supposed to taste processed to a certain extent, and these were no different. But flavor wise, I really liked them. They pick up sauce well, they’re tasty. And they’re the only nuggets in this challenge that I finished the whole package of. That’s ten nuggets. And yes, I do feel bad about that, thank you for asking.

Rating: 6 chickens. Sorry, guys. I need more of those sweet, sweet nuggets you’re hiding underneath those feathers of yours. You understand, right?… No…. No, it doesn’t matter that you have a family…. Because I’m hungry….. Well, I haven’t been to Paris either…. No….. No, I don’t have a soul….. Yes, I agree that it’s horrible….. Well, what do you want me to do?…. Well, not killing you for your nuggets isn’t an option….. Because it’s not….. Because I said so….. I agree, that it’s miraculous that you can talk. No one is arguing that. But, no, it does not change my mind.

1. Wendy’s

These are the best. Both the spicy and non-spicy nugs are good! Maybe not “get millions of people to retweet you so you can eat every day for a year” good. But ‘good’. They really are heads and shoulders above the rest of the pack. Or should I say BEAKS AND WINGS above the FLOCK. Hahhaha. Oh I really am a chicken serial killer now, so those jokes are very funny to me.

These are crunchy, and flavorful. They have chicken that feels ‘real’ and less manufactured, and their breading to chicken ratio is perfect. They’re as close as I could get to ‘liking’ a chicken nugget during this terrible, torturous day. I mean it wasn’t as torturous for me as it was for all those chickens I murdered, but still….hard day for ol’ Allison Sanchez.

Rating: 7 chickens. 7 chickens who will never again feel the warm, feathery embrace of a lover’s touch. WAS IT WORTH IT YOU MONSTERS? WELL WAS IT??