Chicken nuggets are one of those foods that are beloved by children, for multiple reasons. One, they’re fried. Two, they’re salty. Three, they generally taste pretty good. Four, they’re made from the most inoffensive type of meat, chicken. While it might be easy to assume that they’re just ground-up meat, formed into patties and fried, that can be far from the truth, especially in fast food.[related]
According to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center who picked up the nuggets at two unnamed fast food chains, the nuggets contained only about 50 percent meat. The rest was a hodgepodge of fat, blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, and ground bone. Believe it or not, if you’re going to buy fast food chicken nuggets, you should probably go with McDonald’s McNuggets, which at least start with boneless white meat chicken before other ingredients like modified food starch and wheat starch are added.
Now there might very well be some chicken nuggets on the market that are made with nothing but high-grade chicken meat, but until we have a guarantee, we’ll stick with making our own; here’s a good recipe.
As for who invented them, that dubious title goes to Robert C. Baker, a food science professor at Cornell, who published a way to mold chicken into any shape as an unpatented academic work in the 1950s. Often called “the George Washington Carver of poultry,” he also invented a chicken deboning machine, chicken and turkey hot dogs, and turkey ham.