McNuggets McNuggets...What?

For Chapter 4: "Spot On"

By Published on .

In my last post for this chapter, I introduced a McDonald's commercial created entirely from a YouTube video.

The spot has been running in the New York metropolitan area this summer. It's two guys on a street corner, one making beat-box sounds through pursed lips, the other rapping about breaded, deep-fried chicken parts:

I'm into nuggets, y'all. I'm into nuggets, y'all.

I'm into nuggets, y'all. I'm into nuggets, y'all.

McNuggets, McNuggets what, McNuggets, McNuggets what, McNuggets, McNuggets what

Ketchup,and mayo. Ketchup and mayo.

Dip it in barbecue sauce. Dip it in barbecue sauce.

The roots of this moving lyrical tribute go back to Chicago, a year earlier, when two students in the Second City training program were preparing to do some sketch comedy onstage. One was Thomas Middleditch. The other was Fernando Sosa.

"We were backstage, 10 minutes before we go on, and doing hip-hop characters back and forth," Sosa says. "Just to goof around."

That's when, in recognition of rap's famous ability to document the nitty gritty of urban life, Middleditch started to rap about Chicken McNuggets. This made them laugh, and when they went onstage, they ditched one of the bits they'd been planning on and launched into McRap. Good move.

"It was awesome," Sosa says. "The audience went crazy."

Their friend Matt Malinsky then agreed to make a video of the performance, which he duly posted on YouTube with, he insists, "no expectations, really." Well, maybe not expectations, but certainly high hopes. Recall how "Saturday Night Live" bit players Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell were catapulted into prominence when their "Lazy Sunday" rap about the white-nerd life became a YouTube sensation.

As it turned out, the 40-second McNugget rap wasn't quite "Lazy Sunday," multi-million-downloadwise, but over the next year it did generate for than 50,000 page views. And one of the viewers was Chris Edwards.

"I was dying laughing," says the Arnold, Boston, creative director responsible for McDonald's retail promotions in New York City, "and I was, like, I gotta do something. This is just too good to leave there. So I downloaded it into iMovie and worked on it over the weekend."

Sure enough, he figured out a way to cut out some of the stuff, replace it with title cards, and slap a logo on the end in 30 seconds. That is: the length of a commercial. Then it was just a question of tracking the boys down to inquire as to whether liked like to be all over New York TV rapping about a fast-food item.

"We were worried they'd be like, 'No, we don't want to look like sellouts'" Edwards says. "But they were excited, they were very excited to be put on television. They're psyched to get the exposure." Or, as Sosa so sensitively describes the situation, "This is fucking retarded. The attention this is getting is ridiculous. It's insane."

It's hard to say what makes the video so compelling. Maybe it's because nobody would rap about McNuggets. Or maybe it's because McNuggets should have been rapped about long ago, because they represent exactly what rap is supposed to explore: the textures of the inner city. Truth be known, the guys themselves can't quite put a finger on it. Because, really, how can you ever? Once, in preparing for Chicago's SketchFest, they spent hour after hour honing a bit about a kid and his friend walking into the house and finding the kid's dad watching porn on TV. They cracked themselves up every time they ran through it, yet nobody in the actual audience was even slightly amused.

"They just would not laugh," Sosa recalls.

Well, this time the audience did laugh. The video was already a mini-cult phenomenon when Edwards ran across and. And it just so happened that the subject matter dovetailed perfectly for an Extra Value Meal summer promotion in the New York area, where Arnold has regional responsibilities.

"It was kind of a fluke," he says, "but a lucky one at that."

So what will be the upshot? Edwards thinks it will be a spontaneous, unsolicited flood, on YouTube and elsewhere, of CGA – most of it probably from rappers "thinking 'maybe we can get it on TV.'"
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