Here’s Why McNuggets Come in Four Unique Shapes

McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are one of the most commonly eaten fast food staples in the States, and internationally alike. Chances are, you’ve put at least a few of these fried little wonders away in the past year, but you may not have looked at the nuggets closely enough to recognize one of their distinct features— shape.

A tweet posted in early November by user @MaddieLand1 shows a picture depicting four of these famous pieces of chicken. Written on top of the image of the nuggets are four words: ‘bone’, ‘ball’, ‘boot’, and ‘bell’. If you examine the pieces of chicken carefully, you will then see that each one is shaped slightly differently from the next.

picture showing shapes of different McNuggets
Twitter | @MaddieLand1

As to be expected, the internet went positively crazy over this particular tweet, and many started contacting McDonald’s regarding an explanation for the shape of the nuggets.

User Stew U. posed the question: “Why do your Chicken McNuggets only come in four shapes?” on the McDonald’s website. The company quickly fired back a tongue and cheek response. They clarify their choice by replying:

The 4 shapes we make Chicken McNuggets in was the perfect equilibrium of dipability and fun. 3 would’ve been too few. 5 would’ve been, like, wacky. For now, our McNugget shapes are: the “ball,” the “boot,” the “bow-tie” and the “bell.” We also make them similar in size to ensure consistent cooking times for food safety. Thanks for your question, Stew.

Another user, Jason A., was tickled by McDonald’s use of alliteration in regards to the naming of their McNuggets, and he wanted a bit of a backstory. He asked the company: “Why do all your McNugget shapes start with the letter “B” (boot, bell, bowtie and ball)?

As expected the fast food giant came back with another silly retort:

Because, bud! Beautifully-built “B” bites boost bliss, bypassing boredom.

The History of McNuggets

Interestingly enough, McDonald’s was not always known for its chicken. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the restaurant began even experimenting with poultry. The catalyst for this shift came about when doctors starting pushing their patients to eat less red meat.

According to a TIME article, consumers all over the globe were beginning to turn to the healthier meat alternative— white meat chicken. It was then that McDonald’s took the cue and started testing chicken products on their menus.

By 1983, the McNugget had become so popular that McDonald’s became the second biggest retailer of chicken on the planet after Kentucky Fried Chicken.