Chicken nugget

A chicken nugget is a chicken product made from chicken meat that is breaded or battered, then deep-fried or baked. Fast food restaurants usually fry their nuggets in vegetable oil.[1]

Chicken nugget
Place of originUnited States
Created byRobert C. Baker

Some fast food restaurants have launched vegetarian alternatives. McDonald's served Garden McNuggets made of beans and Swedish fast food restaurant Max Hamburgare offers a dish containing nuggets made of falafel. Quorn also supplies vegetarian chicken style nuggets.[2][3]


The chicken nugget was invented in the 1950s by Robert C. Baker, a food science professor at Cornell University, and published as unpatented academic work.[4] This bite sized piece of chicken, coated in batter and then deep fried was called the "Chicken Crispie" by Baker and his associates. Dr. Baker's innovations made it possible to form chicken nuggets in any shape. Common problems the meat industry were facing at the time of this invention were being able to hold ground meat together without a skin and producing a batter that could handle being both deep fried and frozen without coming off of the desired meat. Baker was able to solve both problems by first coating the meat in vinegar, salt, grains, and milk powder to make it hold together and secondly using an egg and grain based batter that was able to be fried as well as frozen.[5]

The McDonald's version of Chicken Nuggets are known as Chicken McNuggets. Their recipe was created on commission from McDonald's by Tyson Foods in 1979[6] and the product was sold beginning in 1980.

Nutritional information

Chicken nuggets are generally regarded as a fatty, unhealthy food.[7][8] A study published in the American Journal of Medicine analyzed the composition of chicken nuggets from two different American fast food chains. The study found that less than half of the material was skeletal muscle with fat occurring in equal or greater quantities. Other components included epithelial tissue, bone, nervous tissue and connective tissue. The authors concluded that "Chicken nuggets are mostly fat, and their name is a misnomer."[9]


The process of turning chickens into chicken nuggets occurs in three main sections. The first two, pre-slaughter and slaughter, are common to the creation of many chicken products. The further processing required for making chicken nuggets begins with deboning. The chicken is cut and shaped to the correct size. This is done manually, by a series of automatic blades, or by a process called grinding (a method of deboning in which the softer parts of the chicken carcass are forced through a mesh, leaving behind the more solid pieces, resulting in a meat paste. If used, this paste is then shaped before battering). The pieces are battered and breaded in a large cylindrical drum that rotates, evenly coating all of the pieces in the desired spices and breading. The pieces are then fried in oil until the batter has set and the outside reaches the desired color. Finally the nuggets are packaged, frozen and stored for shipping.[10][11] While specific ingredients and production methods may vary between manufacturers, the above practices hold true for most of the industry.

Chicken nuggets have been the subject of food challenges, social media phenomena, and many more forms of public notoriety. The dish has inspired gourmet restaurants,[12] exercise routines, and even feature-length productions, including Cooties, a movie about a grade school child who eats a chicken nugget infected with a virus that turns pre-pubescent children into zombies. Thomas Welborn holds the world record for eating the most chicken nuggets in three minutes (746 grams, or approximately 42 chicken nuggets).[1]

The most retweeted tweet of 2017 was made by Carter Wilkerson who asked Wendy's what it would take for a year of free nuggets. The tweet generated over 3.5 million retweets.[13][14]

The largest recorded chicken nugget weighed 51.1 pounds (23.2 kg) and was 3.25 feet (0.99 m) long and 2 feet (0.61 m) wide and was created by Empire Kosher. It was unveiled at Kosherfest in Secaucus, New Jersey on October 29, 2013.[15]

See also


  1. "What's Really In That Chicken Nugget? - The National Chicken Council". The National Chicken Council. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  2. What's in Those Nuggets? Meat Substitute Stirs Debate
  3. Quorn Meat Free Chicken Nuggets
  4. (Cornell University) obituary, March 16, 2006
  5. Rude, Emelyn (2016). Tastes like Chicken. Pegasus Books Ltd. pp. 149–165. ISBN 978-1-68177-163-2.
  6. "A History of Chicken Nuggets". Foodimentary - National Food Holidays. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  7. Collins, R.D., Karen (24 March 2006). "Chicken nuggets -- good idea gone bad?". Nutrition Notes. NBC News. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  8. Amidor, R.D. C.D.N, Toby. "Chick nuggets: Are they healthy?". Healthy Eats. Food Network. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  9. deShazo, Richard D.; Bigler, Steven; Skipworth, Leigh Baldwin (2013-11-01). "The autopsy of chicken nuggets reads "chicken little"". The American Journal of Medicine. 126 (11): 1018–1019. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.05.005. ISSN 1555-7162. PMID 24035124.
  10. Smith, Douglas P. (2014). "Poultry Processing and Products" (PDF).
  11. "Poultry processing". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  12. Carman, Tim (2017-09-22). "You can order a flight of chicken nuggets at the world's first nugget tasting room". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  13. "These Are the 10 Most Widely Shared Tweets of 2017". Time. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  14. Judkis, Maura (2017-12-28). "2017 was the year of chicken nuggets". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  15. "Photos: World's largest chicken nugget on display in Secaucus". New Jersey On-Line. October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
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