The shapes of McDonald's chicken nuggets may appear to be random, but that's hardly the case. In fact, they've only existed in the same four shapes for the past 35 years, no matter which location you get them from. And that's not all—each shape of McDonald's chicken nuggets actually has a name. So, without further ado, it's time to get your masters in the science of McNuggets and why they have different shapes.
What are the four McDonald's chicken nugget shapes?
The four McNugget shapes are known as "the Boot, the Ball, the Bow-Tie, and the Bell," as the McDonald's Canada website explains.
"The Bell" has a traditional bell shape, with one side of the nugget shorter than the other. "The Ball" is simply circular, and "The Bow-Tie"—which is sometimes referred to as "The Bone"—splits on one end. Personally, I always thought "The Boot" resembled the continental United States, with the protruding tip looking like Florida, but we understand McDonald's urge to use all "B" words when it comes to the McNugget shapes.
And, of course, no matter which McNugget you get, all four fit nicely into McDonald's sauce cups for maximum dunkability.
Why are the McDonald's chicken nuggets shapes always the same?
"The reason they are all standard in shape and size is to ensure consistency," McDonald's Canada wrote on its site in an answer to a fan question.
Basically, this is how the company makes sure the chicken is thoroughly and evenly cooked and that the breading is consistently fried.
Why is four the magic number of McNugget shapes?
As for why McDonald's stopped at four nugget shapes, the Canadian site explained that "three would've been too few; five would've been, like, wacky."
How does McDonald's duplicate the four chicken nugget shapes?
The McNugget shapes are pressed out with a rolling cookie cutter at a production facility, as you can see in this video from McDonald's Canada. Then, they are battered and partially fried, before being frozen and shipped off to each McDonald's location. They'll be fried there, too, to finish the cooking process.
So, what else is there to know about McNuggets?
Well, for one thing, you might be surprised to learn that there are more than a dozen ingredients that go into McNuggets, but they're mostly just preservatives, as well as things like water and salt. Also, as Jennifer Rabideau, the product development scientist for McDonald's in the aforementioned video, explained, they are made of only the breasts of the chicken.
With all of their crispy, golden goodness—and dependable consistency in shape—it's no wonder that chicken McNuggets are one of McDonald's most popular menu items.