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"Chicken: what everything exotic or visually off-putting invariably tastes like, only cheaper."
Alice is trying to get Bob to eat a new meal that people don't usually eat. When Bob finally gives in, and eats what's unfamiliar to him, he immediately proclaims, "Mmmm... Tastes like chicken!" In short, practically everything tastes like chicken in Fiction Land.
This is supposed to convey the message that the taste is, if not good, at least blandly inoffensive.
This idea was tested on the Food Network show Food Detectives, and found to be true for almost all meat from animals that don't have hooves. The scientific rationale is that the muscles are made mostly of fast-twitch fibers and lacking in slow-twitch, so basically any small and light animal that's not a fish will tend to taste close enough to each other that the brain's sense memory defaults to the most commonly-eaten meat of that type; for most westerners, that means chicken. Fast-twitch fibers are the vanilla ice cream of the flesh-product world, and don't really have much of a flavor to start with. It holds especially true if the animals in question are relatively young and haven't picked up a lot of environmental flavors; alligator tastes fishier if the animal's been swimming around eating seafood for a few years, and most market chickens are about 6-8 months old when they're shipped.
On the other hand, whether or not this is true also depends greatly on how the food is prepared. When the MythBusters tested this one, the rate of success in identifying chicken from not-chicken increased when the meat was ground up and then cooked on a grill. And for some, the texture of the meat may be a dead giveaway no matter how it's prepared (as Tory proved in the first round of testing; this is what prompted the ground-up-then-grilled test).
Based on a passage from Christopher Columbus' log, "The Log of Christopher Columbus," in which he describes having killed and eaten a serpent: "The people eat them and the meat is white and tastes like chicken."
Contrast with It Tastes Like Feet.
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In a UK Coke ad following the launch of a rival British cola with a big ad campaign. Kid takes unbranded cola bottle from refrigerator, tastes, goes "Mmm, tastes like... chicken." The new cola kind did it, too, particularly once the idea had got in your head.
Hilariously played with in an old food network commercial, showing some suburban tourists in an African villiage given a handful of grubs to eat. One reluctantly eats one and says "Huh, tastes like chicken." The next scene is a suburban backyard BBQ with some African tribesmen attending. They reluctantly take a bite of fried chicken and one remarks in the subtitles "Huh, tastes like grubs."
Chew: The poultry prohibition caused by the bird flu pandemic has made chicken substitutes Serious Business. The closest match is the gallsberry, an unusual eggplant-like food of mysterious likely alien origin.
In Freak of Nature Harry tried his hand at living in the London Zoo and concluded that penguin tasted like chicken.
In Yabba Dabba Joes the accidental time travelers discover that trooedons taste like a cross between alligator and dark meat chicken. The Joes wish they had a spice rub or a marinade to go with the meat.
Mouse:: That makes you wonder about a lot of things, you take chicken, for example, maybe the machines couldn't figure out what chicken tastes like, which is why chicken tastes like everything. Or, maybe they couldn't figure out-
Apoc: Shut up, Mouse.
Mark Wayne: Everything tastes like chicken, you notice that? Frog legs, snakes... even rabbits taste like chicken.
In the Stargate movie, Daniel has this opinion of roast Abydos desert lizard. His efforts to convey this to his hosts are met with limited success, though the natives later refer to him as "Chicken Man".
In Loaded Weapon 1, the Hannibal Lecter Expy claims that human flesh tastes like chicken.
Phil: I had groundhog for lunch. It wasn't bad. Tastes like chicken.
A U.S. military training film on emergency wilderness survival invoked this humorously when a crashed pilot saw a snake slithering away and pursued it, with a voice-over of the pilot thinking, "The manual says you taste like chicken ... and buddy, that's just too bad for you."
A Kid in Aladdin's Palace: Calvin is encouraged to eat bugs as part of a hazing ritual, and he notes that they taste like (slimy) chicken.
In Iron Man 2upon placing the new Unobtainium powered Arc Reactor into his chest, Tony remarks it tastes like coconut. And metal.
In German-Yugoslavian Old Surehand (Flaming Frontier in the USA) the titular hero and his sidekick, Old Wabble, spend a night on a remote farm. Old Wabble praises the chicken bouillon the farmer's wife made. She tells him that wasn't chicken bouillon, but a snake soup. Old Wabble is so shocked, he keeps repeating "Snake soup. Hic!"note Heroes' obvious drunkenness and shock prompt the farmer couple (who actually are bandits) to attack, but Old Surehand only pretends to be drunk and easily kills them.
In The Freshman (not that one) Marlon Brando's character hosted a "Gourmet Club" that regularly feasted on endangered species, and was planning to serve a stolen Komodo dragon at their latest meeting. Toward the end of the movie, it's revealed that he regularly smuggled said animals out of the kitchen while still alive, and had his chefs prepare chicken or turkey instead, figuring his guests would never know the difference. For Komodo dragon, he told his chefs, "Dark meat."
Random Posleen:(chews, ponders)... Tastes like nestling.
In Dave Barry's Guide to Guys, he admits that in the mad panic to prepare for the oncoming Hurricane Andrew, he felt the need for supplies such as plywood so badly that he could taste it. (And it tasted, of course, like chicken.)
Ogden Nash wrote, in the short poem "Experiment Degustatory", about being told rattlesnake meat tastes like chicken — so now he can't stand to eat chicken, because he knows it tastes like rattlesnake.
Skink, a popular recurring character in Carl Hiaasen novels, is fond of roadkill (It Makes Sense in Context). Whenever he offers it to another character, they will invariably reply it tastes like chicken.
In March to the Sea, after killing the flar-kenote very aggressive and large Mardukan herbivores, akin to Cape Buffalo on Earth that were threatening Roger's group, the humans make a meal of the remains of the beasts. Captain Pahner comments that they're about to find out what flar-ke tastes like, to which Dobrescu replies "one guess". It turns out that it really does taste "very much like chicken."
Live Action TV
Amazingly used in Star Trek: Voyager. A group of Borg drones are stranded on an alien planet. Without a functioning Borg Cube they can't regenerate, so they must eat one of the dead drones. One of the nonhuman drones remarks, "It tastes similar to a bird I once ate." It takes Let's Meet the Meat a little too literally.
In "Hunters," Tom describes one of Neelix's mystery dishes as tasting like chicken, but with the consistency of corn husks.
Used again in "The Void." The crew of Voyager is experiencing a food shortage and Neelix has whipped up something to look like a delicacy but is really just some alien whatever. He tells Paris to "pretend that it's Seven's fettran risotto" and Paris replies "It tastes more like chicken."
Danny Messer: Tony Collins: Tastes like chicken, right? Danny Messer: No.
Stargate SG-1 episode "The First Commandment", Daniel Jackson says this with a tone of disgust about the meal they're eating. When Sam Carter asks what's wrong with it tasting like chicken, Jackson says it's supposed to be macaroni and cheese.
Daniel Jackson perpetrates this trope in the original Stargate film, too.
Played with in another episode, where a food-obsessed alien who has never eaten chicken gets some and thinks it's amazingly good. He demands more, but doesn't get any because it's a "rare delicacy."
The Abzorbaloff villain in the Doctor Who episode "Love & Monsters" said this after he "ate" or absorbed a human into his own body.
"Mm. Tastes like...rat. It tastes like bald eagle!"
In the Babylon 5 episode "A View from the Gallery", Bo chides Mack for failing to adhere to the trope when eating a spoo sandwich.
"What's it taste like?"
"I dunno...spoo, I guess."
"You're supposed to say chicken!"
Not chicken per se, but the concept is played with when G'Kar serves dinner to a Narn ambassador:
Na'kal: Breen. You've managed to import breen from homeworld. How? G'Kar: It...isn't actually breen. Na'kal: But the smell, the taste... G'Kar: It's an Earth food. They are called "Swedish meatballs". It's a strange thing, but every sentient race has its own version of these Swedish meatballs. I suspect it's one of those great universal mysteries which will either never get explained or which will drive you mad if you ever learned the truth.
In an episode of My Hero, George gets some GM Food from his home planet which allows anything to taste like anything (e.g. something that looks like brocoli but tastes like ice cream), the local crazy guy, Tyler, has a snack in George's house and says that it tastes just like chicken, only for it to be revealed by George that it is chicken.
The concept was explored in an episode of Food Detectives. The conclusion is that it's more of a function of texture than flavor. Any meat that is light in color, tender in texture, and mild in flavor can be and often is mistaken for chicken. More exotic meats tested included frog legs, alligator...and guinea pig.
MythBusters also tested the concept, and came to a different (though not necessarily contradictory) conclusion than Food Detectives did.
The first test had the various meats battered, fried, and seasoned. Grant's success rate was low (11/20, or little better than chance), but Tory was able to detect texture differences that gave him a 17/20 success rate.
The second test had the meats ground up to eliminate the texture factor, then cooked on an outdoor grill. Due to the lack of seasoning to mask flavors, Tory guessed 18/20 correctly, and Grant guessed 19/20 correctly.
A conclusion could be drawn that seasoning and preparation are very important to the trope, as is texture. Because of the high success rate in the second test, the myth was overall Busted.
In Day Break at one point the hero is detained in a police station with some crazy unkept man. He asks the hero to give him his arm, then suddenly bites it and starts shouting "I told you, we taste the same! We all taste just like chicken!" while a policeman takes him away. Later we learn why he became so unhinged, the biting becomes a minor plot point, but why exactly did he bite him is never explained.
The Walking Dead: In the Talking Dead episode following the fourth season finale of the show that Talking discusses, Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes' actor) is a guest, and discusses the scene with the Claimers where he rips out the leader's throat with his teeth. When setting up the scene, he's asked by the effects team which kind of meat he'd like for spitting out to simulate the flesh ripped out of the leader's throat, beef or chicken, and going with reasoning of this trope he says chicken. He mentions this was a poor decision on his part, given the specifics of the scene.
The Weird Al song, "The Night Santa went Crazy," features this line:
Then he picked up a flamethrower and barbecued Blitzen, and he took a big bite and said, "It tastes just like chicken!"
Gorillaz's "Superfast Jellyfish" is supposedly an advertising jingle for the eponymous breakfast treats, which are made of cute cartoon jellyfish and allegedly taste "just like chicken".
Deconstructed by the Comics Curmudgeon when it appeared in B.C., who rants at length against a punchline that ascribes the attribute "tastes like chicken" to a fish:
The whole 'tastes like chicken' joke is about exotic animals that people don't usually eat, you see, and at root it's based on the fact that chicken is fairly bland, as is most meat from small-ish animals, and it's just that chicken is the kind of small-ish animal we eat the most. And fish, by contrast, actually have a really distinctive flavor ... and he's eating a fish ... and the joke would have worked just as well if the punchline had been 'it sure tastes great' or something along those lines ... and ... and ... AAAAARRRGGGH!
Played with in Li'l Abner with the Shmoo.While they defintely taste like chicken when fried, shmoos often taste differently when prepared some other way. To wit: Broiled, they taste like steak. Roasted they taste like pork. Baked they taste like catfish. And yes, they taste like oysters on the half shell when eaten raw.
One gag in The Far Side portrayed a cow eating a steak. "Interesting... interesting... I'd say we taste a little bit like chicken."
Inverted by one B.C. comic where the title character is eating chicken; a friend asks what it tastes like and he replies "Everything else."
Stand Up Comedy
In one of his stand-up specials, Bobcat Goldthwait rants about how everything weird supposedly tastes like chicken. "If it tastes like chicken, why not just get some chicken? Cheapest fucking meat on the planet!"
Eddie Izzard has a bit about how humans taste of chicken, in his Dressed to Kill. Later it comes up as "Tastes of human" while pretending to serve chicken.
In the history of Warhammer, the Ogre tribe of Bulg Legeater hunted down and consumed the hobgoblin warhost of Gholg Slitthroat after hearing that hobgoblin meat 'tastes a bit like beef'.
"Tastes Like Chicken" is an actual card in the Zombie expansion of the Munchkin card game (it refers to zombies eating humans).
The same card name is used in Munchkin Conan for a card that lets you cancel any other card. (The card illustration is an edited version of Conan killing the vulture while he was crucified.)
Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. In Professor Trader's journal he says that the dinosaur Compsognathus tastes "not unlike chicken".
Parodied in Shadow Warrior when you beat one of giant bosses, your character tastes whats left of it and declares that it tastes like chicken.
In the Sam & Max game The Mole, The Mob, and The Meatball, Max finds that webcams taste like chicken and goes great with ketchup.
In Puzzle Quest, when Drong is asked to describe the taste of volcanic rock, of all things, he says it "tastes like chicken. Hard chicken."
In ADOM, eating a the corpse of a giant bat gets you a message "Tastes like chicken."
In the second mission of Warbears, if Kla gets hit by a slime ball, one of the things he says is, "Tastes like the chicken I had yesterday."
In Pikmin 2, there are Louie's entries on how to cook a number of the enemies that the group comes across. One is the Mamuta, a giant stone... thing. The cooking entry for this particular enemy is: "Inedible. Tastes like chicken."
In Dead Rising 2, there is a side mission titled "Tastes Like Chicken." It involves a cannibalchef who's planning to cook and eat a female survivor.
There is an achievement in World of Warcraft called "Tastes Like Chicken", earned by eating 50 different kinds of food.
In AH.com: The Series it's initially played straight when Professor Zoomar comments that roast giant pterodactyl tastes like chicken; then inverted in a story set some years later, Zoomar has forgotten what chicken tastes like (as it's After the End) and upon being reintroduced to it, remarks that it tastes exactly like giant pterodactyl.
Said exactly by Matter Eater Lad from the Legion Of Superheroes when he eats a giant alien beast.
The second episode in Jackie Chan Adventures, when it emerged that Jade had accidentally swallowed the Rooster Talisman (which had wound up in the soup she was wolfing down at the time) in the previous episode:
Jade: Umm... Tastes like chicken.
Space Ghost Coast to Coast had some fun with this when Space Ghost was interviewing Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook. As Yan prepared a turkey for him, they discussed how this saying makes no sense, "I hate when people say "This tastes like chicken." It doesn't. Chicken tastes like chicken."
Beavis says this when he and Butt-head attempt to lick toads to get high.
In the The Powerpuff Girls episode "Bubble Boy", in which Boomer of the Rowdyruff Boys is held captive by Professor Utonium and company. Bubbles was sent as a replacement for Boomer, and at one point, Bubbles had to eat a cockroach so the Rowdyruff Boys won't suspect that she isn't the real Boomer. After Bubbles catches the other 2 Rowdyruff Boys (they escaped though), Professor Utonium learns about the cockroach incident and apologizes to Bubbles.
Professor Utonium: I'm sorry you had to eat a cockroach.
Bubbles: That's okay. It tasted like chicken!
At the end of the Regular Show episode "Every Meat Burritos", Rigby says that the titular burritos taste like chicken.
Parodied in one episode of CatDog, at the begining of the episode; Dog is chasing a pigeon that he apparrently thinks is a chicken (he keeps repeating the word "Chicken!" throughout the chase) and when he finally eats the bird, he says "Tastes just like... pigeon."
Not a chicken example, but in Terra's debut episode in Teen Titans, the Titans invite Terra over to Titans Tower, and Starfire offers her some Glorg (to everyone else's disgust). Terra tries it and comments that it tastes like sushi mixed with ice cream.
Because the sense of taste is subjective and can be affected by many factors, there will probably be a lot of odd things that some people sincerely believe taste like chicken. You yourself won't know for sure unless you try them. It's actually possible that the compounds that give the average serving of unseasoned chicken meat its characteristic taste won't taste like chicken to certain people.
In Shanghai, P.J. O'Rourke was invited to try a shotglass full of cobra blood. His verdict? "Tastes a little like chicken... blood."
Snake meat tastes almost exactly like chicken, though the texture is very different.
As much as he didn't want to say it, Anthony Bourdain admitted that Armadillo tastes like chicken.
Subverted for human flesh. We actually taste like pork.note Human flesh has often been called the "long pork," so perhaps we didn't need a robot to tell us. This could possibly be explained by the fact that pigs are near perfect human analogs. That's why they always use pig carcasses on MythBusters. Some have also described human flesh as tasting like veal. Apparently, black people taste sweet, while white people taste salty. But surprisingly, babies don't actually taste better. They taste like fish.
A persistent Urban Legend suggests that SPAM, a pork product made from the richest slow-twitch muscle fibers nearest the bone, was so popular in post-war Polynesia because it tastes even more like "long pig" than the rest of the pig.
Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer, in his written confession that was admitted into evidence at his sanity hearing, wrote that human flesh tasted like beef.
Greg Foot, in The Secrets of Everything, had his thigh biopsied then cooked the tissue. It smelled (and looked) like beef, but the analysed odours indicated a mix of meat flavours including chicken.
As pigs are the only omnivorous mammals most people have actually tasted, it's not that strange that humans (also omnivores) would taste more like them than like other edible livestock.
Issei Sagawa, a man who murdered a fellow Parisian literature student and ate her corpse, claimed her flesh tasted a lot like raw tuna.
Also subverted for alligators; most people who've eaten alligator say it tastes more like fish than chicken, although the texture does remind them of chicken.
Texture-wise, boiled crocodile is closer to pork.
Rabbits tastes like chicken, same does iguana.
Some people think rabbit tastes more like something between beef and chicken.
American astronaut Pete Conrad commented that iguana tastes rather like chicken during a retelling of his time in survival training.
Seeing as how avians and reptiles have a relatively recent common ancestor, it makes perfect sense that lizards and squamates taste like chicken.
Except under this logic, pork should taste like beef.
Frog legs. They're actually really good and taste exactly like chicken, but with the texture of fish.
There's a good chance that making practically every dish with "a cup of chicken broth" stands a good chance of making everything in it "taste like chicken".
Because chicken is a very common food that is eaten almost everywhere by everyone, it becomes the benchmark for comparison by default.
Subverted with turkey, which tastes very different from chicken despite their being more closely-related to chickens than most of the animals mentioned above. Turkey has a richer, slightly greasier flavor (especially if you eat the dark meat of the turkey, compared to the dark meat of a chicken).
Duck also has such a distinct taste that it could never be mistaken for anything else.
Ditto for goose.
And game birds—squab, pheasant, quail, etc.
Use and inversion on a Food Network promotional spot: an American couple is brought to Botswana as guests of a local tribe, where they eat mopane worms, describing them as tasting like (honey-barbequed) chicken. The headmaster of the tribe is then brought to America as a guest of the couple and fed chicken; he describes it as tasting like mopane worms.
Unripe jackfruits have been known to taste like chicken, and are sometimes used as a meat substitute by vegetarians. (Ripe jackfruit tastes like jackfruit, or for those who've never had the actual fruit, Juicy Fruit gum). By the same token, breadfruit, when roasted, smells and tastes a lot like bread.
Subverted with mouse and a few other small rodents (e.g. dormouse): as found by Heston Blumenthal, they taste like pork.