The Real Reason McDonald's Discontinued Their Grilled Chicken

There's no denying the fact that McDonald's is the patriarch of fast food chains. However, that doesn't mean the hamburger joint hasn't suffered through its fair share of hard times. Like many restaurants and businesses in 2020, McDonald's sales plummeted because of the pandemic, causing the franchise to reevaluate its menu (via Business Insider). McDonald's vice president of operations, Bill Garrett, told Business Insider that the chain would be dropping a handful of their offerings — including salads, buttermilk crispy chicken tenders, and grilled chicken sandwiches — in order to "simplify" the menu and focus on the "most popular choices." In the same statement, Garrett also said that the reduced menu would make things easier on the staff who are working during the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. This probably explains why the grilled chicken sandwich has yet to return to the Golden Arches despite indoor dining reopening and people eating out more.

An employee compared the look and taste of the grilled chicken sandwich to "burnt rubber."

But there may be more to the disappearance of the grilled chicken sandwich than just the affects of the pandemic. When you don't know what you're in the mood for or there's multiple items that sound good, it can be helpful (and fun) to ask the server or cashier for their input. McDonald's employees are happy to share their menu favorites; but Andy, who works at a McDonald's in the Midwest, tells Mental Floss that you'll never hear a worker recommend the grilled chicken sandwich. Once cooked, the grilled chicken pieces have "a supposed shelf life of 60 minutes in the heated cabinet," Andy explains. He added that, depending on when your order comes through, you could be getting a fresh grilled chicken sandwich or one that's been sitting there for almost an hour. Yikes.

That aside, Andy says the grilled chicken sandwich, which comes between two buns topped with tomato, lettuce, and spread, doesn't look all that appetizing. "It dries out so quickly that even if it's within an acceptable time frame, it looks like burnt rubber, and probably tastes like it, too." Currently, McDonald's is only offering a variety of crispy and spicy chicken sandwiches for those craving a chicken sandwich (via McDonald's). Grilled chicken is still not available.