Whatever Happened To McDonald's McBites?

Nowadays, when you think of fast food chicken, the first thing that comes to mind is chicken sandwiches. This is an understandable reaction, considering that seemingly every restaurant in the fast food industry seems to claim that it alone has a chicken sandwich that'll blow the competition's sandwiches out of the water. But in all of the debates about just who has the best chicken sandwich, we sometimes forget the other poultry innovations that came before them.

McDonald's, for example, has its own fair share of chicken products that have come and gone — besides the classic McNuggets, obviously. In 2004, Chicken Selects, the Golden Arches' take on chicken strips, entered the scene. According to Business Insider, Chicken Selects were a popular menu item up until 2015, which is when McDonald's cut them from the menu entirely and replaced them with the chain's Buttermilk Crispy Tenders. While it's debatable if Chicken Selects and Buttermilk Crispy Tenders were one and the same, the popular chicken tenders also got the ax in 2020 during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chain also had some deep-fried flops when it came to chicken, the most notable example being Mighty Wings, McDonald's version of the classic chicken wing. Despite a sound concept, the wings were viewed as "too expensive" and complicated the chain's menu (via The Motley Fool).

There's one product, however, that most people seem to have forgotten outright. It was even marketed as the next big thing despite its tiny size.

McBites were McDonald's answer to popcorn chicken

If you've been to KFC, you're probably familiar with its popcorn nuggets: those tiny, bite-sized pieces of popcorn chicken. Just as McDonald's would make its own chicken sandwich to try and attract customers from the Colonel, McBites followed the same idea. Introduced in 2012, these little chunks of popcorn chicken were introduced to the public in not only three sizes (small, medium, and large) but also in original, spicy, and, perhaps a bit unexpectedly, fish. The McBites ran from 2012 until 2013 when they vanished from the menu entirely.

What happened to the McBites can be chalked up to a wide set of factors. According to McDonald's, McBites weren't meant to be anything more than a limited-time offering, and there were no plans to keep them around permanently. Some on Reddit, however, speculated that it was actually the price of the McBites that lead to their removal. Much like the earlier Mighty Wings, they were too expensive compared to the classic, cheaper McNuggets.

Yet, even if the McBites aren't available here in the United States, that doesn't exactly mean they're discontinued everywhere. McDonald's in Australia claims to have Chicken McBites — or at least some version of them — alongside Chicken McPieces, another "popcorn chicken" item introduced by McDonald's.

While it's unknown as of yet if McDonald's ever plans to bring back McBites to the United States, weirder things have happened!