Fallen Arches: Can McDonald’s get its mojo back?


Perhaps no episode captures what’s ailing the world’s largest restaurant company better than the Mighty Wings Debacle of 2013. In September of last year, McDonald’s launched an ambitious program to sell deep-fried chicken wings across its 14,000 U.S. locations. The wings were a staple in Hong Kong, where the crisp cayenne-and-chili-pepper coating was developed. And a similar version tickled palates in Atlanta during testing. One blogger wrote: “Holy crap, those are really freakin’ good.” The wings were giant (“bone in,” as the jargon went) and meaty. And by the end of the heavily advertised eight-week promotion, McDonald’s was left with 10 million pounds of unsold chicken, a whopping 20% of its inventory. The Mighty Wings didn’t flap.

At corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., executives began pointing fingers. Some blamed the coating, which was too spicy for broad American tastes, they said. Some blamed the price, at a hefty $1…

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