The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 20, 2013

Ojanpa: Where's the bones?

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

— A modern family scene:

Grandpa: “Gather ’round, kids, and let me tell you about when we ate chickens that had bones.”

Grandkids: “Ewwww! Gross, Grandpa.”

This past week KFC introduced a new product, Original Recipe Boneless Chicken, that it touted as “revolutionary.”

It’s nothing of the sort, of course, because KFC and its fast food ilk have been proffering this stuff for years, or ever since the public decided it didn’t want its food to actually look like the animal parts from which it came.

Boneless chicken has long been a staple of 16-34 millennials — those raised on chicken strips and McNuggets and who think chicken isn’t bona fide if it’s bone-ified. 

KFC’s new offering is essentially a larger version of its smaller boneless tidbit offerings, the difference being that the new stuff is the full-size white and dark old stuff, minus the skeletal stuff. 

It took company food tinkerers two or three years to figure out how to do this, presumably in a manner that didn’t leave the birds’ pummeled parts looking like something the dog dragged in from the highway.

That wouldn’t be yummy. Then again, yummy is relative in the brave new world of Frankensteinian food engineering.

The best example of that may be the Popeyes chicken chain’s Rip’N Chick’n item — processed bonelessness fashioned into pull-apart finger shapes affixed to a base slab.

That it resembles a deep-fried human hand is beside the point, I guess, because chicken has become the 800-pound gorilla on the meat front.

In 1970 we annually ate 26 pounds of chicken and 76 pounds of beef per capita. Now, more chicken than beef is consumed each year, albeit without the moisture- and flavor-enhancing qualities that bones can deliver.

Those machine-boned birds usually end up with less infrastructure than a Third World rope bridge. 

The most laughable moment of KFC’s new boneless ballyhooing came when a corporate official said late Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders would have been excited about the “new” product.

Actually, the perfectionist colonel was no fan of the company’s products after he sold the firm.

In 1975 he lamented that the gravy had become “wallpaper paste” augmented with “sludge.”

He also despised the introduction of “Extra Crispy” chicken, calling it “nothing but a damn fried doughball stuck on some chicken.”

As for his original-recipe chickens succumbing to the femur and sternum  police, I suspect his revulsion for that would go bone-deep.


 Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email