The weather? 2008. The place? A German McDonald’s. There, model Heidi Klum – whose career as a Victoria’s Secret angel and “Project Runway” host was hot – held a plastic tray containing three pieces of breaded chicken wrapped in tortillas topped with shredded lettuce. The event was called “Snack Meets Style with Heidi Klum” and served as a promotion for the McDonald’s Snack Wrap.
The photographs of the event, which eventually made their way to American tabloids, are a strange little time capsule. In these, Klum blows kisses at the camera with one hand and holds a Snack Wrap in the other, or smiles broadly while holding several Snack Wraps spread out like playing cards.
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But during a time when it feels like everything old is new again — jelly slides, bucket hats, “Saved By the Bell” — and chain restaurants are bringing retro favorites back into mass, I humbly ask McDonald’s to bring back the Snack Wrap, aka the best lunch item they’ve ever carried.
The Snack Wrap was simple, although customers had a few options. You can get grilled or crispy chicken; ranch dressing or honey mustard. It came in a soft flour tortilla with just enough iceberg for crunch and a thin layer of lightly melted cheddar jack cheese. When they debuted in 2006, after being created and tested by chefs at the Culinary of Institute of America, Snack Wraps sold for $1.29.
They were lightweight, portable, and inexpensive, all attributes McDonald’s touted in initial press releases about the article.
“McDonald’s developed the Snack Wrap to fit the lifestyle of our customers who are always on the go and want a quality product made with premium ingredients,” said Ralph Alvarez, president of McDonald’s North America in 2006. “The Snack Wrap’s portability, value and overall great taste takes snacking to a whole new level.”
The Snack Wraps were an immediate hit, enough to spark a snack war akin to the ongoing and frankly tedious chicken sandwich war between fast food chains. KFC attempted a “Toasted Wrap,” consisting of a flour tortilla, a strip of chicken, lettuce, pepper mayonnaise and a three-cheese blend. Wendy’s followed up shortly after with a Spicy Chicken Go-Wrap (which, it should be noted, was also pretty good, enough to keep people on Reddit trying to unlock a viable copycat at home).
Things went well for the McDonald’s Snack Wrap for the next decade – the decade in which I learned to drive and frequently grabbed one on the way to figure skating practice or between classes. They had enough protein to get me through the next few hours, but were cheap enough to become a staple of my high school and college diet. It was an ideal on-the-go lunch or end-of-day snack.
Then came 2015. Franchise owners had been complaining for years that Snack Wraps were taking too long; a classic burger takes ten seconds to assemble, while the wraps took over a minute thanks to a 20-second steam time needed to make the tortilla soft. Over the next year, McDonald’s phased out of business.
There was some initial backlash, including multiple online petitions, but unless you go to Canada where wraps are still offered in some provinces, American consumers have been out of luck.
However, as fast-food chains have brought back fan favorites like Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza or McDonald’s Szechuan sauce, there’s renewed interest in the return of the Snack Wrap. As Lillian Stone wrote for The Takeout, a TikTok user recently shared “what appears to be a promotional graphic from McDonald’s.
She continued, “At the top of the flyer, the TikToker has added text that reads ‘SNACK ATTACK IS BACK’ above a date line that reads ‘MAY 15, 2022’.”
Unfortunately, Stone reached out to a McDonald’s representative who confirmed that “at this time there are no plans to bring Snack Wraps back to national menus in the United States or Canada.”
That said, the TikTok virus has made other millennials like me nostalgic for what was truly the perfect McDonald’s lunch. Maybe it really is time for the Snack Attack to return.