How the Chicken Conquered the World
From KFC to chicken tikka masala, people everywhere eat chicken. It’s versatile, relatively inexpensive compared to other meats, and has no major religious restrictions. But chicken for dinner wasn’t always this popular.
How did the chicken achieve such cultural and culinary dominance? It is all the more surprising in light of the belief by many archaeologists that chickens were first domesticated not for eating but for cockfighting. Until the advent of large-scale industrial production in the 20th century, the economic and nutritional contribution of chickens was modest. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond listed chickens among the “small domestic mammals and domestic birds and insects” that have been useful to humanity but unlike the horse or the ox did little—outside of legends—to change the course of history. Nonetheless, the chicken has inspired contributions to culture, art, cuisine, science and religion over the millennia.
(Image credit: Tim O’Brien)