Photo: McDonald's

There’s an innate sense of shame that comes with eating chicken nuggets. Maybe it’s the tiny dipping cups. Maybe it’s that we know they’re made from circus animals. Or maybe it’s because you’re a grown-ass adult eating something called “nuggets.” You may as well be sitting in a high chair, crumbs dusting your bib.

Thankfully, a new piece from Eater gives some legitimacy to the humble nugget. In it, food critic Ryan Sutton ranks his favorite fast food chicken nuggets, applying what’s clearly a refined palate to a food product he calls “aggressively imperfect” with the potential to offer “a peerless fast food experience.”

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Sutton’s language is almost comically grandiose, serving as an amusing counterpoint to the nugget’s simplicity. He writes:

The nugget is a gateway drug, a young child’s unwitting indoctrination into the corporate culinary industrial complex. I knew what a nugget was long before I was introduced to kale or capon. In fact, it is one of the first two dishes I remember eating on this earth (the other dish was baked Peconic Bay scallops, a dish that fits my lifetime narrative more elegantly).

Roll your eyes at the grandiloquence if you want. It culminates in an admirable attempt at a definitive ranking of nuggets (or nugget-like products) from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, White Castle, KFC, Popeyes, and Chick-Fil-A. You’ll find no spoilers here, but just know that you should probably avoid the nuggets at White Castle and Burger King. McDonald’s nuggets, on the other hand, are described as “[s]o handsomely blonde, it’s as if you’re eating a golden lab.”

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Be sure to drop that one next time you’re dining at the Golden Arches.