You might think I would be keen to talk about St. Patrick’s Day, seeing as how—as I write this—it is St. Patrick’s Day, and in my prime, I used to sing “diddley-dee” songs in some of our many local, Irish-Themed pubs, and was a one-time medal-winning Irish step dancer. I could discuss the differences in celebrations I knew in New York compared to those I see here* but, instead, I want to talk about Chicken McNuggets.
Today, you see, marks the 50th anniversary of the invention of the Chicken Nugget. They were not, as many suspect, developed in the R&D labs of McDonald, Inc. (the place that gave us—or tired to—the McDLT, the McLobster, the McGratin Croquette, the Hula Burger and McPizza) but were instead prototyped by a professor at Cornell University named Robert C. Baker. His notion was as heroic as it was altruistic: to take all the wasted bits of the chicken and make something useful out of them. His conception was an economical and nutritious sort of chicken-stick (similar to the fish-stick) but, as we all know, history (and McD’s) hijacked the idea and came up with a Frankenfood concoction containing—among other goodies—sodium phosphates, mono- and di-glycerides, pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, dimethylpolysiloxane (added as an antifoaming agent) and some chicken.
But boy, weren’t they tasty!
|Robert C. Baker
Pioneer who paved the way for the Chicken McNugget.
Of all the things McDonald’s has created, McNuggets—in my book—come in a solid second after the Egg McMuffin. They are bad for you in a dozen ways but, really, unless your diet consists solely of these breaded, fried, chicken-flavored dog biscuits, they aren’t going to do you much harm, and there is little better in this world than a bit-sized serving of fat, grease and unnaturally enhanced spices dipped into a goo of unnaturally colored BBQ sauce.
If you are going on a road trip, they are a necessity: the natural complement to Dunkin Munchkins. I have completed several long-distance drives eating nothing but Munchkins for breakfast and McNuggets for lunch and dinner; they are America’s On-The-Go foods.
I have to admit that, these days, I do not frequent McDonald’s (or any other restaurant where the food is served from behind a counter by teenagers wearing hairnets and name tags) and, in fact, have not eaten a McNugget in over a decade. Life has moved on for me, but they had their day and were—for a time—an integral part of my life. So perhaps, on this doubly special day, I should go downtown and seek out the glow of the Golden Arches. I’m likely too late to order an Egg McMuffin, but I can at least get a Big Mac, super-sized fries and a half-dozen McNuggets with Hot Honey Mustard sauce.
And, seeing as how it is St. Patrick’s Day, maybe they’ll color them green.
* Actually, I can discuss that quite succinctly: in NY we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day; here we do not.