McDonald’s molds its Chicken McNuggets into four distinct shapes. The fast-food chain calls the shapes the bell, the ball, the boot and the bow tie (which is also called the bone). We went digging for the reasoning behind the shapes and here’s what we found.
The shapes are all the same width and they are “pressed out with a rolling cookie cutter,” according to McDonald’s Canada. Here’s a picture of the nuggets after they have been formed. The bottom row is the bow tie, followed by a row of boots, then balls, and the bells:
The reason why they are all a standard shape and size is to ensure consistent cooking times for food safety in all McDonald’s restaurants, the company wrote on its Q&A page.
But the varying shapes are also geared toward kids. “Our Chicken McNuggets are shaped uniquely for kids and kids at heart—it makes dipping more fun!” the company wrote.
So why just four shapes? According to the chain, “three would’ve been too few. Five would’ve been, like, wacky.”
After the nuggets are shaped, they are smothered in a two layers of batter and then sent to the fryers, where they are partially cooked. They come out of the fryer looking like this:
Finally, the nuggets are frozen and packaged for shipping to McDonald’s restaurants, where they should be fully cooked through for consumption.
See also: How McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets Are Made