Photo: Kevin Pang

Much hullabaloo was caused this past November when a nationwide shortage of McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Tenders struck our already beleaguered nation. McDonald’s claimed a supply issue, and that it would return on menus before the end of the year. But because nothing else happening in our nation should induce greater outrage, we freaked our shit.

Shit-freaking on social media has become our national pastime, and brands in the middle of the maelstrom are the beneficiary. It wasn’t the only time this year McDonald’s and its chicken strips struck publicity gold. Rick and Morty fans descended en masse upon McDonald’s nationwide in October when its Szechuan Sauce was made available for one day. One woman went as far as trading her packet of Szechuan Sauce for a 2004 Volkswagen GTI. Anyway, it’s been a good year for McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Tenders, which returned to menus on Dec. 28.

Photo: Kevin Pang

What I’d like to know is why these tenders have elicited such hysteria. They’re fine, on par with better freezer aisle chicken (though nothing tops Bell & Evans breaded chicken tenders). Yet they don’t match the hype.

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McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Tenders feature a flat and uninteresting batter—that is, a textural uniformity with no topological variance. I want my crispy fried chicken strip exteriors to have bumps, ridges, grooves; it’s just more interesting to bite into. (And yet, I still find their McNuggets—more smooth crisp shell than battered coating—way better.)

There’s a subtle note of tang from the buttermilk, and it’s tender enough to not give trouble for my two-year-old. The sauce that comes with it, Signature Sauce, is a tamer version of Big Mac sauce, like Thousand Island dressing for beginners.

A minor complaint about its marketing: Why does McDonald’s insist on boasting it’s made of all white meat? Since when is dark meat—undeniably fattier, therefore juicier and more flavorful—earn such a bad reputation?

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I understand Americans associate white meat as leaner and healthier, but need we remind ourselves we’re eating deep-fried chicken. This is like that old joke of ordering a triple fudge caramel sundae with butterscotch and whipped cream but oh hold the cherry because I’m on a diet.