As McDonald’s commercials taught us time and time again, no food is as Christmassy as a good ol’ Chicken McNugget.
I’m dead serious. Being a television-glued, holiday-obsessed fast food fanatic throughout the ’80s, I had every reason to draw this conclusion. Each year, McDonald’s rolled out a new (or several new) commercials which definitively connected Chicken McNuggets to Santa Claus.
The McNugs were presented as the ultimate “holiday party food,” and I bought it hook, line and buckaw. Typically, the ads starred fancily dressed adults palling around in hoity-toity dining rooms, with only a sloppy box of fried chicken to betray their base normality. I grew up believing that successful people had Christmas parties full of cocktail dresses and Chicken McNuggets, and I so couldn’t wait to be a part of that.
In 1987, the sauce got sweeter. Sensing that they were on the cusp of making Chicken McNuggets the official food of Christmastime, McDonald’s went all-in and just dared the rest of us to call. That year, we got Holiday Chicken McNuggets.
Here’s the commercial:
You watched it, right? Please watch it. Nothing I’m going to say beyond here will make any sense if you don’t watch it. Be a Scrooge on another site. One I don’t like.
For the duration of the promotion, McNuggets were packed inside absolutely godly holiday boxes, each made to look like a cross between a Christmas present and a basket of fruit. Why? Because it’s great. As a secondary measure of awesomeness, these McNuggets came with limited edition sauces – a cranberry/orange blend, and another with apple cinnamon goodness.
The commercial was utter perfection. Notice how they show the McNuggets in all different settings? A fancy party, at the office – there’s even a shot of McNuggets in what seems to be a fancy party at an office. Which would be an office party. An office’s Christmas party, featuring Chicken McNuggets and long red fingernails. The world I thought I was inheriting was so much different than the one I got.
Throughout the ad, the faceless masses dip McNuggets into special holiday sauces. Every time they do, there’s a nice little chime-like sound effect. It’s because of this ad that I spent the better part of my childhood making stupid noises whenever I ate a Happy Meal.
DINNNNG! Chomp. I was a such a pleasure to be around. I never showered, either.
There’s something I’ve never told you. I’m a time traveler. I can travel through time. Don’t even need a special machine to do it. I just snap, and I’m there. Earlier tonight, I visited a 1987 McDonald’s, got creeped out by all the old people who must be dead by now, and brought one of those Holiday Chicken McNugget boxes back to the future.
Or maybe I’m the type of idiot who actually would have a leftover McNugget box from 1987 just lying around. It’s charming if you look at it right.
Nice box, isn’t it? It practically screams “PARTY AROUND ME.” With the aid of a miniature recorder, it may yet.
The McNuggets aren’t from 1987. I bought those tonight, specifically so I could take this one stupid picture.
Let me tell you the 100% true story of what this entailed:
1. Go to McDonald’s, head for the drive-thru line. By the time I realize that it’s so long and so slow-moving that I could just walk inside and buy them in person in 1/25th the time, there was no way out.
2. Years later, I place my order. She thought I was asking for some kind of chicken sandwich, even though there was absolutely no phonetic similarity between “Chicken McNuggets” and whatever damn chicken sandwich she thought I wanted. After I corrected her, she fell silent for what had to be 45 seconds, as if she’d been recording the order via calligraphy and had to work really hard to revise it.
3. The following April, I reach “Window #1,” where the financial transactions take place. I kind of knew that he was asking for more money than the order should’ve been, but the amount wasn’t so abnormally large that I did anything about it. I got my change and slowly crawled towards Window #2.
4. Finally, I get there. They hand me something that I did not order. Turned out, the woman ahead of me got my McNuggets. She parked and frantically ran back to Window #2, complaining about the mishap, with nary an inch separating my face from her bouncing ass. Despite this, I thought it’d be rude to roll up the window.
5. Somehow, things get sorted out. I got my McNuggets, and she got whatever she ordered. I drove away. Then I realized that I must’ve paid for her order, because there’s no way a box of McNuggets and one freakin’ soda costs fifteen bucks.
6. A final insult. As I’m stuck at the last red light before home, I notice a car of rascals next to me, looking my way with a mixture of amusement and disgust on their faces. Whoops, I was blasting 106.7 Lite FM, and it was the fucking Carpenters’ fucking Partridge Family version of “Sleigh Ride.” If only I’d rolled up my window earlier, like I should have.
In summary, I hope you appreciate what it took to provide the only non-advertorial photograph of 1987 Holiday Chicken McNuggets in existence. I now need therapy. I’d have to turn five more Spumoni cakes into monsters to be okay with the world again.
Sadly, while I had the original box, I did not own the original sauces. Even if I did, they’d be too old to try.
According to the commercial, the “red sauce” is “tangy cranberry with a twist of orange,” while the tubbasnot is “sweet apples, spiced with cinnamon.”
Well, I’ve come this far. I have an honest-to-goodness box of 1987 Holiday Chicken McNuggets, and the only thing keeping this from being a 100% authentic recreation are those two lousy sauces.
Honey, I’ll taste defeat when I’m ready. I ain’t ready tonight.
It seemed easy enough. Especially because I could just tell you they tasted good, even if they didn’t.
For the cranberry sauce, I used…cranberry sauce. Plus an orange, for its orangey zest.
For the apple sauce, I used, I don’t know, some weird can of apple stuff that would appear to be the start-point for homemade apple pie. Plus cinnamon, from our thousand-year-old container of it. Back then, Egyptians were batshit for cinnamon.
You know, they actually came out good! Nothing beats McDonald’s fancy ketchup on a McNugget, but if you want to turn golden fried chicken parts into the mistress of Father Christmas, I can think of no better flavors.
The cranberry version is especially fantastic. It’s like what you always imagine sweet ‘n sour tasting like before you actually try it again. Plus, it’s red. The color of holly. The berry part of holly. They’re called “drupes.”
You’d never catch a child eating McNuggets in one of today’s McDonald’s ads. That shit is off limits.
I’ve recreated an ancient special edition iteration of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, and I want everyone to be reminded of that during my eulogy. I’ve already ordered business cards with that boast right on them. I deserve a sponsored PSA. I deserve so much more than this.
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