The Reason McDonald's Started Selling McNuggets

McDonald's might be best known for its OG cheeseburger but there's another item on the menu at the Golden Arches that has garnered quite the cult following over the years: the McNuggets. According to Carolina News and Reporter, the fan-favorite chicken nuggets are one of McDonald's top-selling foods and the fast food chain sells an average of 2,500 pounds of chicken every two minutes. McDonald's even recently released its first new McNuggets flavor in 40 years with its Spicy Chicken McNuggets (via Entrepreneur), which customers went crazy for when they came out earlier this year.

First introduced to the menu in 1983, McNuggets came to be in an interesting way — and one that you might not expect. It wasn't because people asked for them or because chicken nuggets were one of the McDonald brothers' favorite foods. Rather, it's because McDonald's was worried Americans would stop eating burgers, and they wanted to be prepared.

People weren't crazy about beef

Around the time that McDonald's burgers were becoming a mainstay in the U.S., beef was starting to get a bad rap. According to Time, cardiovascular disease was on the rise and, in 1961, the American Heart Association published a report linking heart disease to a fat known as cholesterol. The problem for McDonald's? The same report blamed meat sources like beef and pork for Americans' staggering cholesterol consumption. As a result, people started eating more chicken.

That was bad news for a fast food chain founded on burgers, so Ray Kroc suggested adding more options to the menu in the form of onion rings or onion nuggets. But that inspired an even better idea from then-chairman of the board, Fred Turner. He proposed chicken nuggets, and thus the McNugget was born. Within five months, a prototype of the new McDonald's chicken nugget was released in Tennessee restaurants and the response from customers was overwhelmingly positive. The rest, as they say, is history.