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Posts Tagged ‘Chicken Nugget Challenge’

Chicken Nugget Challenge with Fred “Dangerous” Lee of Actual Brewing Company

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 21, 2018

The ground work for the great chicken nugget challenge was laid down in June of 2018 at a brewers (and allies like myself) conference at Brewdog in Canal Winchester. Fred Dangerous Lee was talking up nuggets in a big way. The intensity and passion of which he spoke of nuggets inspired a few more of us to want to objectively determine who truly had the best (fast food) nuggets. A power outage as well as a distraction on my part as I was consumed with rage when I found out the Route 33 Brew Trail had plagiarized my work prevented our team from deciding on that very day who had the best nuggets. However, a seed was planted and over the following months, much like the paper boy from the movie Better Off Dead, I hounded Fred Dangerous Lee with the phrase “show me the nuggets.”

We tentatively decided to have the nugget challenge in conjunction with the opening of the Actual Brewing location in Clintonville. However at that time the opening date of the taproom was very much in question – with the exterior signage just promising….someday. At the time of the nugget challenge tasting the taproom was not yet open to the public but it was close enough and able to serve beer, so on December 20th, 2018, the Great Nugget Challenge occurred. We tested the taps and we tested the nuggets.

I obtained chicken nuggets from Burger King and Wendy’s. Fred obtained the Nuggets from McDonald’s. I set the criteria for our tasting team. Nuggets would be assessed on the following: Appearance, Taste and Texture with judging weighted to taste. Each person would need to taste two nuggets from each place – one plain and one with a sauce of their choice. From there, they were welcome to try more nuggets with more sauces. One of our judges was Cheryl Harrison of Drink Up Columbus. One thing most people do not know is that Cheryl was the employee of the year for McDonalds for either a region of Ohio or the entire state of Ohio I can not recall which in the distant past. In spite of her McDonalds heritage she promised she could be objective in this challenge.

The McDonald’s nuggets easily won the appearance category. Wendy’s was a distant second. Burger King was third because no other entries were offered. The McDonald’s nuggets presented as appetizing and in my opinion, look like the breaded chicken offered in many generic Chinese restaurants. The Burger King nuggets were flat and looked dry as a desert.

McDonald’s also won the texture category, they did look breaded and had a pleasing resistance when biting through the breading to the chicken base. The consensus was that the Burger King nuggets had a texture reminiscent of recycled cardboard. The Wendy’s nuggets looked generic.

The results of the taste category were a bit unexpected. Many of the tasters leaned toward Wendy’s as the better tasting of the three chicken nugget offerings. It was noted that the McDonald’s nuggets were probably better while still hot but the Wendy’s nuggets seemed to retain their taste and flavor as they cooled down. In the naked nugget category (no sauce) Wendy’s won by a nose.

In the “sauced” category, McDonald’s was the winner. Clearly nuggets/McNuggets were designed to be delivery devices for sauce and McDonald’s has certainly invested millions of dollars to make sure that experience is always better than average with McNuggets. The was almost unanimous consensus that a sauced McDonald’s nugget trumped a sauced Wendy’s nugget but still by a nose. We disliked the Burger King nuggets with any pairing of sauce and they were still many of those left uneaten at the end of testing. The Wendy’s nuggets were gone and just a few McDonald’s nuggets were left on the table as I left the taproom. It was also noted that Wendy’s had the larger number of dipping sauces and some but not all of the better sauce flavor offerings.

To recap the above: McDonald’s was best in show but Wendy’s won for “naked” taste. The Burger King nuggets were just horrible but they are the least expensive however our tasting team would not advocate or advise eating them, even for free. We ate those for you, the public, in the name of science and the pursuit of knowledge. This information is provided to you as a public service.

When the Actual Taproom opens it will not be serving nuggets however, it will have food prepared by Alana formerly of Alana’s. If you know Actual, and Fred Dangerous Lee and Alana, then you know this is a perfect fit and pretty legit.


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