There’s no denying that the nugget has invaded the American culinary landscape with a vengeance. From its beginnings as a way to use chicken by-products to its modern functions as a way to get kids to eat vegetables, the nugget is one of the more divisive food shapes out there, and we’ve rounded up 8 foods that just shouldn’t have been nuggified.
The chicken nugget was the invention of Cornell University food scientist Robert C. Baker, who in the early 1960s devised a way to batter and fry shaped ground chicken. It was nothing short of an engineering marvel: ground meat was held together without falling apart, and batter stuck to the meat without falling off during frying. His plan was published and sent out to food manufacturing companies in April 1963, and the rest is history. [related]
But the nugget really reached its apotheosis in 1977, when McDonald’s began looking for a beef alternative in response to a sales downturn due to the federal government releasing dietary guidelines that advised less red meat. They hired Keystone Foods to mechanize chicken-chopping and fish stick manufacturer Gorton’s to devise a batter, and when Chicken McNuggets debuted in 15 Knoxville, Tenn. locations in March 1980 they couldn’t keep up with demand. McNuggets went national, and today are one of the most beloved food items on the planet.
So what is it about nugget-shaped food that we love so much? Well, the more appropriate question might be “What’s not to love?” They’re hand-held, salty, fried, can be dunked into a whole bunch of different sauces, and are inexpensive. But lately it seems as if everyone has been jumping onto the nugget bandwagon (including a new restaurant in New York that serves only nuggets), and there are plenty of foods that really just shouldn’t be nuggets. Read on to learn about 8 of them.