Fred Turner, McDonald's McNugget Father, Dies at Age 80

The man who spearheaded the creation of this fast-food staple, not to mention McDonald's University, passed away January 7
Fred Turner

Former McDonald's chief executive Fred Turner passed away Monday, Jan. 7, from complications from pneumonia. Turner was 80.

The former executive of fast-food giant McDonald's was often credited with helping create the Chicken McNugget, although the now-staple was first invented by Cornell University's Robert C. Baker, Slate reported last month.

McDonald's first released its McNuggets in 1980, after Turner ordered chef Rene Arend to create a new project from chicken. Slate reported that Arend first boned a chicken breast, cut it into small pieces, battered and fried them, and served the bits with sauce. After tinkering with the recipe for mass reproduction, McNuggets first appeared in 15 Tennessee locations, then rolled out nationwide in 1981.

Turner is also credited with upping the ante for McDonald's internationally, especially as he led the creation of McDonald's Hamburger University in 1961, where students can receive a degree in "Hamburgerology" and a diploma from the school "Universatis Hamburgerensis McDonald's." Turner was also a co-founder and life trustee of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

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"Fred's contributions to McDonald's are immeasurable," Don Thompson, McDonald's President and CEO, said in a statement. "For more than fifty years, he was dedicated to operations excellence, training, and developing a great tasting menu."