McDonald’s to owners: Forget the lawsuits and focus on chicken

Photo: Wirepec (iStock)

It’s pretty clear to everyone who follows fast food news (that is, the staff of The Takeout) that the biggest stories of the past year have been plant-based meat and chicken sandwiches. These are both areas in which McDonald’s has been lagging.

Although McDonald’s has both a “Southern-style” (read, just like Popeyes) chicken sandwich and a plant-based P.L.T. now, both are in still in the testing phase. Last week Impossible Foods ended talks with McDonald’s, saying it was, well, impossible to produce enough plant-based beef to satisfy the global market. As for chicken sandwiches...

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Business Insider reported the contents of a leaked email that went out Sunday to franchise owners from McDonald’s National Owners Association (NOA). “We need to stay focused on coming up with a Chicken Sandwich our customers are going to crave,” it said. “A chicken sandwich that gives our customers another reason to visit McDonald’s. A McDonald’s Classic to go with our classic sweet tea.”

The message also predicted that McDonald’s would catch some flack from the press because it has MSG in its chicken sandwiches; that has indeed happened. “Needless to say, all of our Chicken Sandwich competitors use MSG, and many foods naturally contain MSG. The FDA deems MSG safe and the tests over the years have disproven the myth that MSG is harmful.”

The message went on to say that the new chicken sandwich has generated a positive response from customers in Houston and Knoxville, Tennessee, where it’s being tested. (An earlier attempt, shared with restaurant operators at McDonald’s headquarters in May, did not go so well.)

The NOA did not have anything to say about a racial discrimination lawsuit filed last week by two Black executives or reports about the company’s “party culture.” Instead, it merely said, “None of us likes to read about our brand in a negative light,” the message reads. “We have been raised to hold up the Arches and do it in the best light. We aren’t always going to get it right but we get it right much more than we get it wrong. The truth matters and we have the truth on our side.”

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God bless America! It’s the chicken that matters now. Always the chicken.

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About the author

Aimee Levitt

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.