Over the past few decades, chicken has become the most popular protein in the United States. According to the Economist, "the birds now account for 23 billion of the 30 billion land animals living on farms." There are more chickens than any other type of bird. There are even more chickens than humans.
In the past three decades, pork and beef consumption has remained mostly unchanged. Yet chicken consumption has grown by over 70%. So what gave rise to chickens cornering the meat market? Why is chicken, simply put, our most favorite thing to eat?
The modern, domesticated chicken is a descendant of the red jungle fowl of India and Southeast Asia. Chickens have been domesticated for over 4,000 years, according to Food Reference.
Chicken as an edible meat was first depicted in Babylonian carvings in around 600 B.C. Chicken was avidly consumed throughout the Middle Ages, and for thousands of years, a number of different kinds of chicken have been eaten across the Eastern hemisphere, including capons, pullets, and hens.
In the United States, chicken was more expensive than other meats in the 1800s, and thus was thought of as a meat that only rich people could afford. Chicken consumption in the U.S. increased during World War II due to a shortage of beef and pork. In Europe, chicken consumption did not increase as rapidly until the 1990s, when people stopped eating as much beef and veal due to the widespread awareness and fear of mad cow disease.
Chicken soup might be the universal recommendation to anyone who is sick with a common cold or the flu. Because of this, more than half the revenue of chicken soup manufacturers in the United States is generated during the cold and flu season. A warm, tasty bowl or cup of chicken soup may not be what a doctor prescribes, but it's more than likely what your mother or grandmother will make for you if you're feeling ill!
Fried chicken is probably the most popular of all chicken dishes. Though we like to think that fried chicken originated in the United States, frying chicken actually became a common practice in Europe during the Middle Ages. The United States has just made a name for itself in terms of the variety and diversity of fried chicken dishes. According to Taste Essence, more than half of all entrées ordered in fast food chains, hotels, motels, and restaurants are versions of fried chicken.
In fact, in Gainesville, Georgia, you have to eat fried chicken with your hands. Eating it by any other method is illegal! Who would have thought you could be locked up for attempting to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork?! Maybe the fried chicken in Gainesville is just so good that you simply must devour it as is, and as quickly as possible, with only your bare hands.