To Bone Or Not To Bone

Photo by istolethetv

Say what you will about Kentucky Fried Chicken -- and, really, feel free to say a bunch seeing as they're not one of the, let's say, most exemplary of fast food corporations around -- they've certainly remained true to the basic menu item that got them to the top of the fried chicken heap in the first place: Offering chicken with bones still in them. While other fast food entities like McDonald's, Burger King, and every other competitor on the block have been selling boneless nugget creations for years, it's only now, in the year 2013, that KFC is fully committed to taking the plunge.

As this fascinating article over at Time regarding the corporation's internal struggle between staying classic and adapting with the times points out, there really wasn't much of a choice if they wanted to stay profitable:

[KFC chief marketing officer Jason] Marker acknowledges that the chain's customer base is aging, and that off-the-bone chicken is critical if the brand is to stay relevant and contemporary. "We joke a lot that young people today barely know that chicken has bones in it because of all the forms and formats that we eat it in," he says. "We've got to make sure we meet the needs of those people." In short, they're trying to cater to the McNugget Generation.

In fact, KFC is mulling a future in which none of their offerings have bones in them at all, a boneless menu. Now, without getting into the mess of the many, many problems of the new ad campaign announcing the sudden shift in corporate philosophy -- I'll leave that for you to unpack yourself -- the question we must address goes beyond KFC or any other fast food chain: Is chicken better with the bone in, or bone out?

To delve into this philosophical question, let's play a little round of Point/Counterpoint:

Point: Bone Is How Nature Intended

We are carnivorous creatures -- well, most of us; vegetarians can ignore this post entirely -- and we have a primal urge to rip meat from bones with our teeth. That's what they're there for, that's what we're designed to do. That's what put us at the top of the food chain. So, by using our jaws to pry the meat from the bone, and by using our tongues to soak up some of that lingering taste, we're simply using our bodies as nature intended. If chicken becomes only available in nugget or non-boned form, in a few dozen generations of evolution we may not even know how to rip anything with our teeth anymore. And that's just asking for the primates to take over, "Planet of the Apes"-style.

More importantly, in this day and age of GMOs and hormonally-inundated chickens and mislabeled food, it's actually satisfying to look at a leg of chicken and know that it's a leg of chicken. It is an actual piece of meat that came from an actual chicken. Nuggets, patties whatever you want to make ... they're just FrankenCreations that leave plenty to be desired in the realm of authenticity. Who knows what part of the chicken goes into them?

Frankly, if you want nuggets, you might as well pick up the soy-based versions. At least you know what's inside of them, and they generally taste the same. Which you certainly can't say for pieces of chicken with the bone inside of them.

Counterpoint: Boneless Is The New Normal

Let me begin by saying: You, sir, are an idiot.

What it sounds like, more than anything else, is you're scared of change, scared to adapt. The reason we humans are, as you put it, "at the top of the food chain" is because we're great at adapting. When it got too cold, we made coats out of animal hide. When it got too hot, we rode animals and moved to moderate climates. One of these days, we're going to get rid of those pesky wisdom teeth and appendixes, seeing as they're useless and only cause us trouble, but for now we just take them out ourselves. (Well, we have trained professional do that.) But that's what makes us human: Our ability to make things easier on ourselves. Chicken without bone is not some kind of evil scientific experiment. It's the next step in eating tech.

Frankly, it couldn't come at a better time. All that talk of "teeth tearing" and "tongue licking" is simply nauseating. Why bother having to tear and rip to get every last bit of meat when you can simply devour with ease? That's like being given a brand-new washing machine and still taking your clothes out back with the bar of soap and washboard.

As far as GMOs and other additives factory farms put in their chicken are concerned, simply holding a leg of chicken does not make it more legitimate than a nugget. Go ahead and Google "chicken factory farm" when you get a chance. All of those chickens aren't used for nuggets, but for the bone in "more natural" chicken you're referring to. If that's natural, I want no part of it.

I will conclude by offering this challenge: Order a few legs of chicken with the bone in to go and try to eat them while driving around. I believe my work here is done.

* * *

Okay, then. Enough of my rambling. It's your turn to decide:


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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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