We Ate McDonald’s Kale: Fast Food’s Leafy, Green Unicorn

On Thursday, the superfood sprang up on the menu at nine Golden Arches locations—one of which was near TakePart’s office.

(Photo: Lauren Wade)

May 8, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Josh Scherer has written for Epicurious, Thrillist, and Los Angeles magazine. He is constantly covered in corn chip crumbs.

On Thursday, the Internet exploded in response to the news that McDonald’s would, against all odds, be adding kale to its menu. TakePart even referred to the event as “The Day Kale Died,” which, admittedly, may have been an overreaction. The reality is, fast-food outlets are constantly testing promo items, and the new kale, egg white, and turkey sausage bowl is only planting its green roots in nine locations—or, in relative terms, .02 percent of all worldwide Mickey D’s.

(Photo: Josh Scherer)

The staff at TakePart’s office in Beverly Hills happens to be in that minority of people within a reasonable distance from a McKale breakfast bowl. I decided to go try it out myself, and I asked some of my coworkers to dig in with me.

At 7:30 a.m., the drive-through line at the McDonald’s in Santa Monica was so long that it wrapped onto Santa Monica Boulevard, causing through traffic to honk obnoxiously before swerving out of the way. There were zero spots in the parking lot, so I had to park on the street. When I got to the front of the line, I asked the cashier if it was normally this crowded. She said it wasn’t. I asked if it was because of the new breakfast bowls. She said it was—which is probably why she wasn’t surprised when I ordered five.

It was weird seeing a McDonald’s breakfast item with so many different colors. Normally, it’s all beiges and browns and yellows—with the occasional pink from the nitrate-cured Canadian bacon—but between the wilted greens, chopped tomatoes, and shaved Parmesan cheese, this is a vibrant bowl of food. And, yeah, it’s legit Parm on there. Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are.

It tasted good too. More important, it tasted like—and I don’t mean to insult McDonald’s previous breakfast attempts—real food. You could tell that somebody behind the counter was cooking with raw ingredients, which is notably absent in, say, a McGriddle or a McNugget, or most other items preceded by “Mc.” Granted, this was at one of the nicer McDonald’s I’ve been to—all the employees were wearing shirts and ties, the whole store was a pristine white, and the trash looked recently taken out. This was definitely McDonald’s A squad, so my experience might not be indicative of others were the kale bowl to get scaled up to the national level.

Judging by the nutrition specs, the bowl seems pretty healthy too. It has 240 calories, 26 grams of protein, and only six grams of carbs. One potential downside—and this was evident in the taste—is the 810 milligrams of sodium, which accounts for more than a third of your daily recommended intake.

I’m more of a black coffee–and–granola bar guy when it comes to breakfast, but if I found myself at one of the .02 percent of McDonald’s that carry the breakfast bowls before 10:30 a.m., I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.

(Photo: Lauren Wade)

But don’t just take my word for it—some of the other TakePart staffers also got in on the action.

Shaya Tayefe Mohajer, News Editor
“Like most kids, McDonald’s breakfast served as an early gold standard of morning fare for me. Their trendy new kale bowl doesn’t miss the mark—mostly because the breakfast sausage buried under the adequate eggs and (purposefully) soggy greens has that familiar flavor of yesteryear’s favorite a.m. meat. But bonus: It’s turkey sausage, and this thing only has 240 calories. I’m a fan.”

Willy Blackmore, Food Editor
“Surprisingly not gross! The kale was younger, the Parmesan older, and the egg whites more flavorful than I would have ever expected.”

Marc Fusco, Photo Editor
“If this breakfast dish was served to me blindly on a ceramic plate, I might think it’s a scramble from my favorite healthy diner. I could clearly taste all the ingredients and was especially surprised by the freshness of the ground turkey patty on the bottom. And what—real shaved Parmesan on top?! Props to McD’s!”