Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will Chicken Thighs Ever Take Wing?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will Chicken Thighs Ever Take Wing?

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Macdonald, Times-Union food editor

There's a fortune to be made in your kitchen.

I ran into a group of people who will pay big money -- millions -- to the person who solves their one problem.

The chicken industry will make a millionaire out of the person who comes up with a popular way to use dark meat.

Last week, the National Chicken Council held a conference at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. The group was made up of producers, marketers, salesmen and grocery and restaurant people. The one problem I heard over and over was what to do with the dark meat -- or as it is referred to in the industry: "the back of the bird."

There was a time when chicken wings posed this problem. Wings were about as useful as chicken beaks. Then, a late-night snack prepared at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y., changed all that. Wings are in such demand that there are times they are more expensive per pound than chicken breasts.

So now, the challenge is to find a recipe or restaurant menu item that features the thigh meat. The chicken nugget was going to be that answer, but now even those are advertised as all white meat. Chicken chili would be a good use of thigh meat, but it hasn't taken off as a "must-have" lunch or dinner item.

If it were like the days of old, where only whole chickens were available, there'd be no problem for the chicken producers. They'd sell the bird and leave the dark meat problem for the customer to figure out. But chicken is sold in several different packages these days.

Whole chickens are the second most popular way people buy chicken, ranking behind boneless skinless breasts. A national survey by PKS Research Partners for the National Chicken Council found that consumers will buy legs and quarters, drumsticks and bone-in, skin-on breasts before they'll purchase a package of thighs. …

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