Chicken Nuggets: Who Invented Them?

In the early 1960s, a scientist and professor named Robert C Baker is credited for inventing chicken nuggets in his lab at Cornell University

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The nugget was created to address a major issue in the poultry business, which was experiencing a decline.

By- Khushi Bisht

Chicken nuggets are one of today’s most popular fast foods and are available at almost every fast-food restaurant worldwide. But who is the true inventor of chicken nuggets?

The origins of the chicken nugget, like many other popular fast foods, are a little hazy, and no one knows for sure who originated them. However, in the early 1960s, a scientist and professor named Robert C. Baker is credited for inventing chicken nuggets in his lab at Cornell University.

McDonald’s, which initially introduced McNuggets in 1980, is commonly given credit. But Baker invented bite-sized breaded chicken sticks that could be readily cooked and refrigerated way before McDonald’s introduced its successful fast-food Chicken McNuggets.

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After the military’s necessity for beef caused a scarcity in the United States during WWII, chicken became the major source of protein for many Americans. Due to the strong demand for poultry, industries were encouraged to discover inexpensive and quicker ways to manufacture chicken. However, after the war, the industry suffered a setback and there was a decline in the chicken market.

In order to increase poultry sales, Baker started experimenting with chicken. His mission was to make chicken into a quick-to-prepare meal for busy household cooks.  With creations such as ground chicken, chicken sausages, chicken hotdogs, and chicken patties, he came up with more than 40 unique methods to cook chicken.

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With the invention of these chicken nuggets, there was now a new way to pack chicken in convenient bite-sized quantities that could be refrigerated and cooked up fast. Pixabay

The nugget was created to address a major issue in the poultry business, which was experiencing a decline. Almost all chickens were sold whole at the time, which was problematic because it was inefficient for the average family. A whole chicken wasn’t enough to serve the whole family, but it was plenty for one individual.

Furthermore, cooking a whole chicken consumes a lot of time and energy, and many people found themselves with less time to devote to more complex dishes. Beef and pork were offered in slices, which made them a lot more efficient items.

Baker’s greatest breakthrough, the chicken nugget, was made feasible by his prior poultry product, Ground Chicken. He made stick-like forms out of portions of skinless ground chicken flesh and wrapped them in bread. The breading is essential because it binds the meat chunks together.

ALSO READ: There’s Not Much Chicken In That Nugget!

With the invention of these chicken nuggets, there was now a new way to pack chicken in convenient bite-sized quantities that could be refrigerated and cooked up fast. And by making chicken into a convenient nugget, it went from a dish that wasn’t quite appropriate for a meal to one of the most famous fast foods in the nation virtually overnight.

Baker seldom gets the credit for his innovation since Cornell University released the entire procedure, including Baker’s recipes, in the April 1963 edition of Agricultural Economic Research, which was sent to hundreds of enterprises for free. Baker never copyrighted any of his inventions, claiming that he was doing it for the greater benefit.