McDonald's has 10 million pounds of unsold Mighty Wings

How do you get rid of 10 million pounds of chicken wings?

That's the problem McDonald's (MCD) is facing after the what might be called the great Mighty Wing flop of 2013. The company made a bet that its chicken wings would fly with customers and bought up 50 million pounds of them for a promotional stunt this fall, The Wall Street Journal reported.

It wasn't a complete disaster. McDonald's did end up selling about 80 percent of the inventory, a source told The Journal. But for a tightly run company in a competitive industry, 80 percent just isn't good enough.

Why couldn't McDonald's sell through its supply? For one thing, they were simply too expensive at three for $2.99. Even though the Mighty Wings were far, uh, beefier than the average chicken wing, their heft couldn't justify the price for many diners.

"The Mighty Wings were really, really tasty, but also way to0 expensive," wrote one Twitter user Thursday. "That's why they're stuck with so much inventory."

Not everyone found them to be tasty. McDonald's advertised its wings as "spicy and bold," but some diners took to Twitter to complain that they were simply too spicy to enjoy.

Speaking with analysts in October, CEO Don Thompson said the wings "performed at the lower end of our expectations." He admitted that the company could improve on affordability, saying that "$1 per wing was still not considered to be the most competitive in the current environment." He also called the wings' flavor "slightly spicy for some consumers."

Thompson said the company can expect to sell about 35 million pounds of wings. If that was the case, then why did it reportedly buy 50 million pounds? McDonald's isn't commenting on the matter. 

The Journal reports that McDonald's plans to offer Mighty Wings at a discount to clear through some inventory. So will Mighty Wings join the McHotDog, the McPizza and the McLean Deluxe on the list of legendary McDonald's flops? Maybe not. Mighty Wings certainly didn't live up to their name, but selling through 80 percent of inventory isn't bad.

The wings could even make their way back to the menu one day, but presumably not until some mighty tweaking takes place first.
  • Kim Peterson

    Kim Peterson is a financial journalist covering business and the economy. She has written for several online and print publications, including MSN Money and The Seattle Times.