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Fish McBites join nuggets, burgers in Happy Meal family (+video)

Fish McBites will appear in time for Lent. The Fish McBites join apple slices and smaller fry portions in McDonald's efforts to reduce the calories in Happy Meals.

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McDonald's says it is offering its first new Happy Meal entree in a decade: Fish McBites.

The world's biggest hamburger chain said the Fish McBites will be widely available at U.S. restaurants starting this week through March, to coincide with Lent. The Happy Meals will come with seven pieces of Fish McBites, French fries, apple slices and a drink.

The company had already announced last month that the Fish McBites would be sold on the standard menu in three sizes — snack (10 pieces), regular (15 pieces) and shareable (30 pieces). Fish McBites, which are fried pieces of fish, will use the same Alaska Pollock used in the fast-food chain's Filet-O-Fish.

The launch marks the start of what McDonald's says is a bigger pipeline of new limited-time offers for the year ahead. By adding more variety to its menu, the company is hoping it can fend off intensifying competition and tempt customers to eat out more at a time when many are being more careful about their spending.

Brian Irwin, director of marketing for McDonald's USA, said the Fish McBites are a twist on the popular Chicken McBites that were introduced as a limited-time offer last year. He said the company thought they'd work well in Happy Meals because there's a "fun, poppable" aspect to them. That's why McDonald's sells more Happy Meals with Chicken McNuggets than hamburgers or cheeseburgers, he said — there's something about the dipping that kids like.

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