Y’all remember the time McDonald’s pitched Chicken McNuggets as actual literal Christmas presents, right?
In 1987, McDonald’s unveiled Holiday Chicken McNuggets, which came in awesomely complicated packages that looked (and even opened like) gift boxes.
It wasn’t McD’s only push for people to serve Chicken McNuggets at holiday parties, but it was certainly their biggest. As if the intricate boxes weren’t enough, McDonald’s also included two limited edition sauces that tied perfectly into the season.
I’d kill to see McDonald’s try something like this again. They still do Christmassy promotions, but what I really want is the chance to turn fast food into fine dining. I want to use the good plates on Chicken McNuggets.
Until such time, I’ll have to make do with bizarre recreations.
I was lucky enough to find one of the original Holiday McNugget boxes from thirty years ago, so all I needed were fresh nugs.
While waiting on line, I thought about telling the cashier why I needed them, which would’ve signaled the start of my even-grittier reboot of Falling Down. It didn’t happen, but the daydream sure made those five minutes pass faster.
Putting new McNuggets in an old box would only take me so far, because the whole point of Holiday Chicken McNuggets were the festive sauces.
First was a cranberry/orange sauce, which looked incredible. Second was an apple/cinnamon sauce, which looked like what doctors call a “productive cough.”
Neither sauce is still available from McD’s. If I wanted my recreation to be faithful, I was gonna have to get weird:
As some longtime readers know, this actually isn’t the first time I’ve recreated the Holiday Chicken McNugget sauces. It is, however, the first time I’ve recreated them reasonably well.
For the cranberry/orange dip, I put a little orange zest into cranberry sauce, mashed it up, and then nuked it until I got the right consistency. It wasn’t as syrupy as I imagine the original was, but I ain’t ordering 40 bucks’ worth of shit from Harry & David for something this stupid.
For the apple/cinnamon dip, I went with apple jelly and powdered cinnamon. I added too much cinnamon because I always add too much cinnamon, but after microwaving, the consistency was so close to Actual McDonald’s Sauce™ that I did a victory lap around the table and then spent five minutes dying.
Both sauces were REALLY good. Like, legitimately good. I urge you to try these same recipes; they seriously make Chicken McNuggets taste like December 25th.
The cranberry/orange sauce was not dissimilar from McD’s sweet ‘n sour sauce, albeit with a tangier, tarter bite.
The apple/cinnamon sauce shocked me with its deliciousness. Picture duck sauce with too much cinnamon.
I enjoyed the process, the taste and the nostalgia, so I am completely at ease with my decision to blow an entire afternoon recreating special edition McNugget sauces from three goddamned decades ago. Thank you for being my excuse to do it. One love.