There is no denying it, chicken nuggets are a staple of the diets of our children. Both Sloan and Beau love chicken nuggets and eat them multiple times per week. From a convenience standpoint, their preference sure is convenient for Sid and I. Throw some nuggets in the microwave or air fryer and Saturday lunch is set!
We buy the big bags from Walmart but, to be honest, we can’t purchase them fast enough. The kids go through them like crazy…sometimes with a little help from their parents.
As part of Sloan’s reading program in 2023, we are trying to introduce more nonfiction options. So far we have read books about greyhounds, cooking, tigers, and penguins. On Sunday night, that list grew to include chicken nuggets. We opened up What’s In Your Chicken Nugget? and oh man it was eye-opening!
In full transparency, I knew the book wasn’t going to be flattering. Let’s be honest, I think we all know that the making of a chicken nugget is no more glamorous than the making of a hot dog. But I didn’t know exactly the ins and outs of nugget production and Sloan was completely in the dark.
The book started innocently enough. It covered the history of chicken nuggets. We learned that a scientist named Robert Baker, who was motivated to re-use leftover chicken pieces, invented chicken nuggets in the 1950s. The food wasn’t very popular for its first three decades of existence but in 1983 McDonald’s starting selling chicken nuggets and the rest is history. Although Sloan and Beau mostly opt for cheeseburgers in their Happy Meals, they order chicken nuggets every now and then too.
As the book went on, we learned more about the reality of chicken nuggets. We became acquainted with sodium, preservatives, processing, and cholesterol. When we read about chicken nugget production, Sloan squirmed just a little bit. This is directly from the book: Some nuggets are made with white meat. Others are made with mechanically separated chicken. This means that machines mash up different parts from different chickens and push them through a strainer to take out the bones. The mixture of chicken and other ingredients is then mashed into a soft paste. Next it is formed into nugget shapes and covered in breading.
“Um, daddy? We eat the white meat nuggets, right?”
For all the unsavory details about chicken nuggets, the book ended with a softer message. In the grand scheme of things, eating chicken nuggets in moderation isn’t a bad thing. In fact, they can be part of a healthy diet if consumed just one in a while. Well, I guess we can work on that “once in a while” part?
One thing is for sure, although the book did give us pause, chicken nugget dinners aren’t a thing of the past at our house. Don’t Blink.