The Truth About McDonald's Snack Wraps

Few fast food restaurants have stood the test of time quite like McDonald's.  It all started in 1940 with Maurice and Richard McDonald, but with the innovation, entrepreneurial knack, and drama that Ray Kroc brought to the table, McDonald's has since skyrocketed to the utter phenomenon we're still experiencing today (via McDonald's). Stand on any given street corner across the globe, from New York City's Times Square to Tokyo's Shibuya, and we could pretty much guarantee that you'll be welcomed by the golden arches. McDonald's is here, and it's here to stay.

The Big Mac and french fries are now iconic fixtures of this fast food burger chain, but there have been quite a few items in its over 80-year history that just couldn't get their footing. Care for a McPizza or an Arch Deluxe? How about the short-lived Onion Nuggets (via ABC News)? There's no use crying over spilled milk or, in this case, discontinued McDonald's items. So, what causes a McDonald's item to get the axe and fall into the forever abyss of abandoned fast food? With a multitude of factors at play, it could be anything from poor marketing campaigns to the ever-changing demands of the customers. 

This brings us to the ultimate lost McDonald's menu item, the beloved Snack Wrap, which is gone (at least in some markets), but never forgotten. Here's the truth about McDonald's Snack Wraps.

The McDonald's Snack Wrap launched in 2006

2006 was an awesome year for McDonald's. That's when the marketing folks behind the fast food giant had a bold idea. In an attempt to recognize the ever-evolving desires of customers, the team resolved to create a product that would appeal to the health-conscious and harried millennial. According to QSR, McDonald's conducted an independent study which revealed that young adults (defined as 18-24 age years old) were more likely to choose McDonald's for an afternoon pick me up than any other quick-service locale. After a "tacadilla" failed to impress consumers in testing, as per the Wall Street Journal, the Snack Wrap was the chain's next answer. They hoped that the Snack Wrap would succeed thanks to its inherently low calorie count and appeal to the fast paced drive-through customer.

After some cross country market testing, the Snack Wrap debuted officially in the United States in the summer of 2006, according to Fast Food News. The portable treat featured a soft flour tortilla that was stuffed with one piece of crispy chicken (a Chicken Select to be exact), shredded cheddar jack cheese, shredded lettuce, and ranch sauce. At just 330 calories it was considered a low-calorie item for the fast food chain, even if it did have 16 grams of fat, including 5 grams of saturated fat and 2 grams of trans fat. You could say it was all winner, winner chicken dinner from there, at least at the time.

McDonald's launched additional Snack Wraps in 2007

The Snack Wrap made its entrance with a bang (or crunch!) and soon proved to be a major success for the company. According to the Wall Street Journal, the little wrap that could was created by a trained Culinary Institute of America chef and not only met their hope and predictions, but blew them out of the water. After just a few months, it was already looking like the Snack Wrap could be one of McDonald's most successful launches in their history as a company.

On top of it all, the Snack Wrap was relatively easy and quick for the restaurant's workers to assemble. A win, win for all. Since its main ingredient was a Chicken Select, which they were already accustomed to making in high volume, it was only a natural choice to expand the Snack Wrap offerings. In 2007, McDonald's introduced the option to substitute the crispy chicken tender for a piece of grilled chicken. They also added an option to replace the ranch with a tangy honey mustard sauce (via Crain's Chicago Business). While these options were both rolled out nationally, they also played around with some lesser-known creations in specific markets. The chipotle barbecue Snack Wrap proved to be a winner, The Impulsive Buy says. This version eventually made its nationwide debut, but, unfortunately, other flavors like the salsa roja Snack Wrap variation did not meet the same fate.

KFC and Wendy's tried to replicate McDonald's Snack Wrap success

With success comes herds of wannabees who try to take the magic and replicate it for themselves. In the fiercely competitive landscape of fast food, McDonald's competitors naturally took notice of the Snack Wrap success and tried to stake their own place in the chicken wrap game.

Deemed a "toasted copycat," by the Orange Country Register, KFC launched its Toasted Wrap in 2008. The on-the-go snack featured a flour tortilla, a chicken strip, lettuce, pepper mayo, and a three-cheese blend. To set themselves apart, KFC grilled its wrap. They even threw a direct shot at McDonald's in their TV ad campaign for the wrap. Burn. KFC also went so far as to install panini-like presses in their restaurants solely for use with this new product. While the KFC version was a dime cheaper than the McDonald's Snack Wrap, the grilling aspect may not have been enough to set it apart from its predecessor. 

Dave Thomas even came a-calling in 2008 when Wendy's threw themselves into the ring by launching their own wrap. Dubbed the Spicy Chicken Go Wrap, each wrap contained a half chicken breast and was available in crispy, grilled, and a spicy variety, as the Daily Herald reported. However, as the "wrap craze" of the 1990s and 2000s began to fade, it appears that the Spicy Chicken Go Wrap has joined the list of Wendy's menu items we'll never see again.

The success of the Snack Wrap did not work in a larger format

The Snack Wrap was really taking off and gaining momentum in the 2000s, The Takeout reports. McDonald's piggybacked off that success when developing their next latest, greatest success story. Or, so they thought. In 2013, according to NBC News, McDonald's launched the McWrap in the United States. Having already been a success over in Europe, the hamburger chain debuted three flavors of the McWrap with the hope that it would enjoy similar success in the U.S. These included Sweet Chili Chicken, Chicken & Ranch, Chicken & Bacon. These premium offerings were available with grilled or crispy chicken and ran from just over 300 calories to 600 calories, depending on protein choice. They also saw the addition of cucumber along with the standard shredded lettuce. According to HuffPost, store owners complained that it was far too time-consuming to prepare, spelling the end of the road for the menu item. In 2016, America said goodbye to the McWrap. 

Even so, chicken was clearly the focus of the fast food industry at this time. According to the Chicago Tribune, it's the perceived healthiness factor associated with chicken that has made this a trendy meat of choice. The era of chicken that began with the introduction of all-white meat chicken nuggets in 2003 spawned so many familiar mainstays to this day including premium chicken sandwiches, premium chicken salads, and Southern-style chicken biscuit and sandwich (via Chicago Tribune).

Beef fans weren't left out in the McDonald's Snack Wrap game

While McDonald's was full steam ahead on the train to chicken town, they didn't forget where they came from. They honored their roots in the hamburger industry with the launch of the Angus Snack Wrap in the summer of 2010 (via Esquire). Using half of a regular 100% Angus burger patty that was tucked inside a tortilla shell, these wraps came in 3 varieties: Deluxe, Bacon & Cheese, and Mushrooms & Swiss (via Brand Eating). They featured the same ingredients as their sandwich counterparts, but with the convenience of being portable. The Angus Snack Wrap line was met with fairly mediocre reviews, including one from Grub Grade Review, which stated: "It's an uninspired tortilla that is void of much taste but does the trick in cutting out carbs and calories... plus it did a nice job keeping the wraps intact. It's really inside what counts and it's all still there. "

Also that year, McDonald's launched the Mac Snack Wrap, according to Serious Eats. Similar to the Angus line, this one featured the same ingredients that customers know and love from the Big Mac but in a less messy, on-to-go form. This, too, was met with mixed emotions from its customers. Brand Eating said that "I'd rather just go all the way and get a Big Mac. It's pretty much for people who want the Big Mac taste but not all the Big Mac calories." 

Snack Wraps were eventually discontinued in the US

It seems that the era of chicken came to a screeching halt when, in 2016, McDonald's finally axed the Snack Wraps from its U.S. menus. Okay, we're being a tad dramatic. They do still carry plenty of chicken products, like the beloved Dollar Menu fixture, the McChicken sandwich. According to Bloomberg, McDonald's original intention of the wrap line was to chase the millennial customer, one with a presumed desire for healthier fast food. Unfortunately, as Investopedia reports, they also added an extra layer of complexity in an industry that strives for and thrives on streamlined simplicity. While a classic burger takes approximately 10 seconds to assemble, it took 20 seconds alone just to prepare the steamed tortilla of a wrap. Time is money, ultimately.

The phase-out process began in 2015 and by 2016 the Snack Wrap and its larger sibling, the McWrap, were all but a distant memory for American McDonald's clientele. As with any menu removal, there was backlash felt from fans. There are still multiple petitions found on Change.org, all of which have garnered thousands of signatures, that demand the return of their beloved Snack Wrap. Sorry, friends. As it turns out, you're going to have to fork over a chunk of your next paycheck (and obtain a passport) if you want to satisfy your needs.

The ranch chicken Snack Wrap is still available in Canada

So, here's the scoop. If you absolutely must satisfy that craving, you're going to have to gather your cold weather belongings because you'll be headed straight across the border to Canada. Oh, Canada. We are so there, at least when it comes to chasing after Snack Wraps. McDonald's of Canada is bringing this full circle by offering the O.G. That's right, Canucks. According to McDonald's Canada, the Ranch Chicken Snack wrap, available with crispy or grilled chicken, is still currently on menus nationwide in Canada. They also offer larger size McWraps, available in Caesar Chicken or Chicken & Bacon. I'm Lovin' it. You're Lovin' It. We're all Lovin' It. 

It may be a trip worth taking because, while you're there, there are some pretty unique offerings coming from our friendly neighbors to the north. If you thought McDonald's fries were toast of the town on their own, think again. The only thing better than their world-famous fries is when you can eat said fries topped with cheese curds and a rich gravy. That's right. McDonald's Canada sells poutine, which is basically the ultimate late night — or, really, any time of the day — munchie. You're probably drooling now and for good reason. We'd say now is as good of a time as ever to get that passport ready.

You'll have to travel to England to try one McDonald's Snack Wrap

If you find yourself heading across the pond, you'll likely have a laundry list of British delicacies you're dying to try. But alongside your fish & chips or shepherd's pie, you may want to throw in a visit to, yes, McDonald's. In the U.K., they serve up the standard burger and fries we've come to expect from the chain, but they also throw in there a few items that are exclusive to their abroad locations. Fancy a Maltesers McFlurry? Yes, that's a thing, but only in the United Kingdom, according to Cosmopolitan. Essentially, McDonald's U.K. infuses this iconic British candy in a mouthwatering exclusive version of the McFlurry. How about some Cheddar Melts and Katsu Curry Chicken McNuggets? Heck yes.

Their menu also happens to include wraps. Served full size like the McWrap but dropping the 'Mc' from its title, McDonald's U.K. serves a line of wraps including sweet chili chicken, BBQ, and bacon chicken, as well as a vegetarian version. The spicy veggie features tasty veggie dippers, which are a blend of chopped red peppers and sundried tomato pesto coated and fried in crispy breadcrumbs, that are tossed with spicy relish, lettuce, and tomato. This one also happens to be certified vegan, according to McDonald's.

England also had a breakfast McDonald's Snack Wrap

A classic full English breakfast of fried eggs, baked beans, and salty back bacon, is an absolute must-eat for any foodie visitor to Britain. But have you heard of the McDonald's wrap that has caused quite a stir over the past year? The breakfast wrap was a fixture on the McDonald's morning menu that also happened to be a major hot seller and people pleaser at McDonald's across the Atlantic Ocean. Complete with a potato rosti (what we know over in the United States as a hash brown) stuffed inside it, this soft tortilla wrap was also filled with a pork sausage patty, free-range egg, cheese, and bacon. You could top it off with your choice of ketchup or brown sauce, another popular condiment in the United Kingdom with a unique flavor of tomatoes, vinegar, and molasses.

Fans were up in arms when McDonald's downsized its menu in an attempt to stay afloat during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this effort, both the breakfast wrap and bagel hit the chopping block, much to the chagrin of its devotees. Instead, McDonald's added the Breakfast Roll to its morning offerings, according to the Manchester Evening News. Now, as per the Daily Record, customers are still speculating whether they will see their long-awaited return of the breakfast wrap come to fruition. You might as well grab some popcorn as we wait and see how this one plays out across the pond. 

You'll have to visit McDonald's in Asia for some unique Snack Wraps

It's easy to feel a tinge of jealousy as an American when looking at all that there is to offer on the McDonald's Asia menu. While we've been privy to some cultural trends over here in the United States — looking at you, Hello Kitty and Pokemon — much has been left up to our imagination. That jealousy hasn't been spared when it comes down to the unique offerings that McDonald's Asia has to offer, as Tsunagu Japan reports. We'd honestly consider giving up all our airline miles for one bite of a Filet O'Shrimp or a presumably delicious Kit Kat and Strawberry McFlurry. Plus, we're still wondering if the age-old "which came first?" debate could finally be settled with one bite of Hong Kong McDonald's Chicken & Egg Burger (via Eat This, Not That!).

McDonald's locations in Asia also got creative with totally unique and exclusive regional versions of the Snack Wrap that we sadly doubt would ever see the light of day in places like the United States. We're particularly envious of the Spicy Paneer Wrap that landed in McDonald's throughout India, as per Eat This, Not That! Paneer, a popular cheese in Southern Asia, is fried and then topped with more cheese in this wrap. Healthy? No, not at all. Still, as a cheese-heavy vegetarian treat, we'd like to try it at least once.