Have you ever noticed how McDonald’s Chicken Mcnuggets come in a handful of suspiciously similar shapes? (The one with the protruding nubbin in every pack is usually the giveaway.) Turns out there are four distinct forms of McNugget: the bell, the ball, the boot and the bow tie/bone. Here’s how they are made.
McDonald’s Canada released a video showing us how Chicken McNuggets are made – a process that is markedly similar at McDonald’s restaurants around the world.
We went digging for the reasoning behind the shapes and here’s what we found out. The four shapes are all the same width and they are “pressed out with a rolling cookie cutter,” according to McDonald’s marketing material.
The picture below shows the nuggets after they have been formed. The bottom row is the bow tie, followed by a row of boots, then balls, and the bells:
The reason why they are all a standard shape and size is to ensure consistent cooking times for food safety in all McDonald’s restaurants. But the varying shapes are also geared toward kids.
“Our Chicken McNuggets are shaped uniquely for kids and kids at heart — it makes dipping more fun!” the company wrote.
So why just four shapes?
According to the company, “three would’ve been too few. Five would’ve been, like, wacky.”
After the nuggets are shaped, they are smothered in two layers of batter and then sent to the fryers, where they are partially cooked.
They come out of the fryer looking like this:
Finally, the nuggets are frozen and packaged for shipping to McDonald’s restaurants, where they should be fully cooked through for consumption.
McDonald’s Australia adds the following:
“To make our Chicken McNuggets, we use chicken breast, some skin and a few seasonings for flavour and to maintain succulence. Then comes the classic coating. It involves three steps: battering, breading and the tempura coating. The nuggets are then par-fried in canola oil before freezing. The nuggets are cooked from frozen in our restaurants in our canola oil blend.”
So there you have it! Also, to anyone concerned that McNuggets are made from baby chickens and/or tossed into grinders while alive, here’s the official response from McDonald’s Australia:
Our Chicken McNuggets are made with 100% Aussie chicken breast meat that we can only get from mature chickens, and not the baby ones.
Good to know.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.