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Food & Drink

2017 was the year of chicken nuggets

| Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

It was the year of women's anger. The year of the filter bubble. The year of sexual misconduct. The year of the pop-culture female gaze. The year of Fiona the Hippo.

But really, 2017 was the year of chicken nuggets.

Think of the comeback these humble little hunks of breading have been through. Only a few years ago, we were afraid that our nuggets were made of “pink slime,” a distressing mixture of mechanically separated meats and additives. But this year, nuggets seemed to be constantly in the news — and usually, for positive reasons. Take a look at all the chicken nugget news this year:

Jan. 17

Eater ranks the best fast-food nuggets, setting the tone for the rest of the year. “I'll take a chicken nugget any day over a chicken tender,” critic Ryan Sutton said. “If the tender is more pure product, more Jonathan Waxman, the nugget is more food science, more Wylie Dufresne, more manipulation — a polite way of saying more processed. It is cooking as transformation.” The winner? Wendy's spicy and non-spicy chicken nuggets.

March 1

Even after Sutton's glowing review, Wendy's discontinues its spicy nuggets. A petition to bring them back got more than 9,000 signatures.

April 5

Carter Wilkerson, 16, fired off a joke tweet to Wendy's: “Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” Wendy's replied: “18 Million.” Wilkinson accepted the challenge: “HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS.” It instantly goes viral and is retweeted by celebrities. The abbreviation “nuggs” enters the wider lexicon.

May 9

Wilkerson's tweet becomes the most-retweeted in history, with more than 3.5 million retweets, surpassing a previous record held by Ellen DeGeneres (it's now up to more than 3.6 million). Wendy's donated $100 million to its Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and Carter got his nuggs.

July 18

Chicken nugget yoga is real. OK, so it was founded by a comedian, but it may have influenced people to incorporate nuggs into their practice.

Aug. 25

An excellent boyfriend is photographed feeding his girlfriend chicken nuggets while her fingernails were drying for a manicure, and the Internet wept at the sight of true love.

Sept. 19

A Phillies fan who promised to buy everyone chicken nuggets if Rhys Hoskins hit a home run in a series finale against the Miami Marlins fulfills his promise, handing out 300 McNuggets to fellow fans. Not the whole stadium (and with a little financial support), but good enough.

Sept. 22

The founders of “the world's first nugget tasting room” are interviewed by The Washington Post about their “flights” of chicken nuggets.

Hip Chick Farms is “taking something that's not considered healthy and making it beautiful,” co-founder Serafina Palandech said. She and her partner, a former Chez Panisse chef, emphasized the wholesome origin of their nuggets: They come from poultry that is non-GMO, humanely certified, free range, natural and organic, raised without antibiotics or added hormones.

Oct. 1

Making a play for disgruntled Wendy's customers, Burger King debuts its own spicy nuggets. A cheeky promotional campaign advertises them using tweets complaining about Wendy's taking their spicy nuggs off the menu. The brand also offers free nuggets.

Oct. 4

An Australian man creates a Facebook event called, “I'm going to go get some Chicken McNuggets.” Thousands of people RSVP, and McDonald's gets in on the fun, too, offering a special register just for nugget purchases, “so you can enjoy them as quickly as possible.”

Nov. 30

An Australian man pleads guilty to drunken driving after his attempt to order 200 McNuggets ends in his arrest. Told that McNuggets were not on the breakfast menu, he harassed staff members, demanding nuggets before eventually ordering $230 worth of hash browns instead. He was found to have a blood alcohol level 3 ½ times the legal limit, and later told the court that he is vegan.

Dec. 5

A tweet from Wendy's declares this the year of the chicken nugget, and it's not wrong.

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