24 Jun: The Chicken of Tomorrow

With breast meat so chunky it could feed the whole family, and drumsticks so small you could carve straight past the bone, the ‘chicken of tomorrow’ envisaged by U.S. retailer A&P inspired a national competition that reached its culmination on 24th June, 1948 – and changed the way that the world ate chicken forever.

Entrants were submitted whilst still in egg form, hatched at specially built facilities, raised in controlled conditions and on a standard diet, tracked and monitored for weight gain, health and appearance. Then, after 12 weeks, the birds were slaughtered, weighed and judged for their edible meat yield. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the success of the competition led to widespread use of antibiotics in poultry-rearing; gasp at the crowning of ‘Miss Chicken of Tomorrow’, 

Nancy McGee; and explain how the competition ultimately led to the eradication of over a thousand species… 

Further Reading:

• ‘How the ‘Chicken of Tomorrow’ Contest in 1948 Created the Bird We Eat Today’ (National Geographic, 2018): https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/poultry-food-production-agriculture-mckenna

• ‘The Chicken of Tomorrow: Mankind’s Quest For A Better Hen’ (Flashbak, 2016): https://flashbak.com/the-chicken-of-tomorrow-1948-mankinds-quest-for-a-better-hen-62821/

• ‘The Chicken of Tomorrow’ (Prelinger Archives, 1948):