Exploring the Popularity of Chicken

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 History of Chicken

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.

Fun Chicken Facts:

  • Chicken incubators were first invented about 4,000 years ago in Egypt, and could hold roughly 10,000 chicks.
  • Chickens are the closest living relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex!
  • A mother hen turns her eggs about 50 times per day and can lay more than 300 eggs per year.
  • The record number of eggs laid by a chicken in one day is seven. The record number for eggs laid by a chicken in one year is 371.
  • The color of the egg depends on the chicken’s earlobes. Red ear-lobed chickens lay brown eggs, while white ear-lobed chickens lay white eggs.
  • In South Korea, there are more fried chicken restaurants than there are McDonald’s restaurants worldwide.
  • Chicken wings used to be considered the most undesirable part of the chicken and were thrown out, until one day in 1964, when a restaurant owner decided to fry them. He called them Buffalo wings, named after the city they were first made in: Buffalo, New York. Which team are you on — drums or flats?

Favorite Chicken Dishes

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.


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Topics: Chicken, Fried Food, Foods & Trends