Chicken in a Can
Here at Taste Test Labs, we’ve been blessed with a loyal fan base—you, dear readers—which has clued us in to some amazing products over the last few months. A fine citizen named Janet, after reading the Pig Lips taste test, sent us some amazingly delicious homemade Black Forest cookies (along with the recipe), and for that, we are eternally grateful. Some of you point us in the direction of other delicious things, like Masala Chocolates. But most of you just want to see us suffer through pig lips and canned bacon and cheeseburger in a can. And that’s okay—we like to test ourselves.
More specifically, we like to test Internet Eating Sensation Dave Chang, as some wise soul dubbed him. When loyal reader Rick Smith (of chefsresource.com) recently sent us a Chicken Ready canned chicken—three pounds, giblets removed but bones included, fully cooked and in its own broth—we figured that Chang would be the only soul brave enough to try it. We were right, but we added the challenge that Chang would have to eat the entire thing, cold, in one sitting. In lieu of the usual “office reactions,” we offer this professionally edited (check out the wipes!) look at the experience. A Q&A with Mr. Chang follows. If you’re unable to watch the video at work, well, you should maybe go work somewhere else.
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The A.V. Club: What did the chicken actually taste like?
Internet Eating Sensation Dave Chang: The chicken meat itself, or the skin? There's a huge difference. If you’ve ever had those big bags of chicken wings from Sam’s Club, or any other big-box retailer, for that matter, the skin just sloughs off really easily. It’s like that. But cold, wet, and unprepared. I think that was my biggest issue. While the chicken itself was cooked, it was otherwise completely unprepared in any way. So the skin was just rubbery and salty. The meat was also pretty bland. Same complaint as the skin—cold, wet, and a little too salty. Also the consistency of the meat was pretty weak. There wasn't a whole lot of resistance or elasticity—it just fell apart in my mouth. It reminded me a lot of Fancy Feast, a big three-pound can of Fancy Feast.
AVC: What did it smell like?
IESDC: I have a pretty bad sense of smell. A lot of things that would smell bad to other people don’t smell all that bad to me. Especially when it comes to food. I know a lot of people hate the smell of fish markets, but personally, I love it. Although that could also be because I grew up in a family that ate tons of seafood. Either way, the smell wasn’t bad at all. The chicken itself has no odor. It was mainly the broth, which smells a lot like canned chicken noodle soup. I should also point out that when first opened, the chicken itself is completely immersed in broth, which gave me the false hope that it would be in pieces, and not the whole chicken that was advertised on the can. Obviously, this was not the case. Short answer: Imagine opening a giant can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, and you have it.
AVC: I know you were putting on a tough face, but were you ready to quit at any point?
IESDC: The larger pieces of skin were a bit of a struggle, as was that last wing, because at that point I thought I had finished the chicken, and my heart/mind/stomach just wasn't in it anymore. That being said, it was more because I was getting full.
AVC: What kept you going? Was it faith in God?
IESDC: Because I know that the traffic boost from Taste Test is the only reason I still have a job at this company. That and peer pressure. Honestly, though—and I’m trying not to sound pandering—but I am amazed and flattered that so many people enjoy watching me eat disgusting food items on the Internet. I'm not delusional or conceited enough to think that I'm the only reason people read Taste Test. I'm pretty sure the writing and the sense of community are big factors. But people seem to get a kick out of it, and there's no one else here that would do it.
AVC: Was this anywhere close to the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?
IESDC: Nope. But again, while I’m maybe a huge twinkie in every other aspect of my life, my diet is actually very Asian. Not to give away too much about my lame TiVo habits, but I remember watching Fear Factor once where they had this “thousand year old preserved egg,” and I was like, “Shit, Joe Rogan, I had that for brunch last week.” Aside from the pig lips, which were definitely up there, I think the grossest thing I've ever had was snake wine. I've included a photo for your reference. It’s basically rice wine with a pickled cobra in it. There's supposed to be some sort of health benefit to it. I've heard people refer to it as Vietnamese Viagra, and something about “super wood.” Personally, I was too busy making sure I didn’t go blind afterward to notice.
AVC: Tell people what you had for lunch, right before eating this entire chicken.
IESDC: I don't keep a food journal, but I'm pretty sure the contents of my stomach at that point were as follows: my actual lunch of rice and lamb, [Genevieve] Koski's leftover lunch from last week, which was some kind of Chinese General Chicken dish, a couple of Reeses Peanut Butter cups from Jun, and an apple.
Where to find it: While other whole-canned-chicken brands are available online, we couldn’t find a place actually selling Chicken Ready canned chicken. We suggest you start a taste-test column, and hope a kind reader sends you one.