American fast food companies have always been known to localize their menus according to the tastes of a given country. It's part of running an effective international food business. Perhaps it isn't surprising then that McDonald's in Japan are rolling out a new kind of McNugget -- one made of tofu, carrots, edamame and fish.
The new fast food option is officially called "Tofu Shinjo Nuggets," with Shinjo being a type of fish patty eaten in Japan. They are golden brown -- just like regular chicken nuggets -- and come with ginger dipping sauce.
Folks at a Japanese website recently got their hands on the new product and said they enjoyed the tofu nuggets, but did note that it is probably better to think of them as an entirely new product and not as a chicken nugget replacement. Afterall, can you really replace a fast food icon?
Others who got their hands on the new nuggets early liked them (some more than regular chicken McNuggets) while others unsurprisingly didn't like them at all. That is to be expected.
So why tofu nuggets, instead of traditional chicken McNuggets? Regular ol' chicken McNuggets are still a thing, but the new food option likely has to do with a recent food scandal making headlines in the region that showed a Chinese meat supplier for Chinese fast food restaurants like McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut using expired meat in their products.
Companies like McDonald's and Yum! Brands (which owns and operates KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell) immediately ceased business with the supplier after word got out, but much of the damage was already done. The restaurants temporarily took many items off the menu due to safety concerns and lack of meat from other suppliers.
The region has had a fair number of food scares in recent years, one major one involving Yum! Brands again when it came out that much of the chicken served at the time in its Chinese KFC restaurants contained unhealthy levels of antibiotics.
With all that in mind, it makes sense that people eating at Chinese and Japanese fast food chains would be cautious and may opt for a more meatless option when it comes to grabbing food on the go. These tofu McNuggets, without any chicken, can't have expired meat or dangerously high antibiotic levels. Ultimately, as long as the tofu nuggets taste good, this should still appeal to the masses.