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  "Chicken: what everything exotic or visually off-putting invariably tastes like, only cheaper."

Daniel: This tastes like chicken.

Samantha: So what's wrong with it?

Daniel: It's macaroni and cheese.

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 everything that doesn't have hooves. The scientific rationale is that muscles 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.

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.


Examples:

Advertising

  • 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.
  • "He never says that something tastes like chicken. Not even chicken."
  • 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."


Comic Books

Film

  • Said by Richard Dreyfuss as the title role in Krippendorf's Tribe, as a direct reference to The Lion King's same line.
  • A Discussed Trope in The Matrix, philosophically as usual.

 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.

    • Of course, if the writers had wanted to be really philosophical about this, Mouse would have wondered if chickens actually taste like some other animal, but we eat chickens because they're easier to keep as livestock.
  • Demonic Toys:

 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.
  • Parodied in Surf's Up : Cody, not paying attention, remarks to Chicken Joe that his Squid on a Stick tastes like chicken. Joe says 'yup', clearly not catching on.
  • In Loaded Weapon 1, the Hannibal Lecter Expy claims that human flesh tastes like chicken.
  • The Spawn movie pairs this with You Taste Delicious as Clown/Violator licks Wanda's face.
  • In the black commedy The Green Butchers said butchers sell human flesh as chicken.
  • Groundhog Day:

 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 The Way Back, while Crossing the Desert, our half-dead heroes manage to kill a snake.

 "Tastes like chicken."

"Yeah. A big, black, poisonous chicken with no legs."


Literature

  • The Dinosaur Megamorphs from Animorphs has Jake eating T-rex. Marco begs him not to say that it tastes like chicken. According to Jake, it tastes like swordfish.
  • In Absolutely Normal Chaos, the heroine's best friend tells her that kisses taste like chicken. (They don't.)
  • Mandatory Discworld example:

  It tasted a little like chicken. When you are hungry enough, practically anything can.

  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.)
  • Someone or other wrote a short poem 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.

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. 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."
  • CSI New York episode "Fare Game":

 Danny Messer:

Tony Collins: Tastes like chicken, right?

Danny Messer: No.

  • Stargate SG-1 episode "The First Commandment": see the page quote.
    • 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.
  • A hilarious subversion comes from The Colony and crosses over with Real Life as the response was completely genuine and unscripted. When the colonists resort to eating the rats that infest the Sanctuary (marinated with garlic and rosemary no less), long-time vegetarian John C. tries some out of curiosity. His response?

 "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!"

  • Subverted in ICarly where Spencer spends the last bit of an episode cringing at the fact a live baby chick had crawled into his mouth and him complaining that it didn't even taste like chicken.
  • In an episode of My Hero (TV), 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.
  • Lampshaded on an episode of Walker: Texas ranger. Walker and Trivet are out camping when Walker catches a rattlesnake and cooks it up for diner. We get this exchange:

Trivet: Tastes like.....

Walker: Tastes like rattlesnake.

Music

  • 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".

Newspaper Comics

  • 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 BC 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.

Theme Parks

Tabletop Games

  • 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'.

Video Games

  • Fallout uses this as the slogan for Iguana Bob's iguana-on-a-stick.
  • Used in Metal Gear Solid 3. Justified because snake does really taste like chicken.
    • More like turkey, actually.
  • 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 And 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 cannibal chef 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.
  • Tribes 2 - "Humans taste like... chicken."
  • Referenced in Mass Effect 3 during James and Garrus' brag-off.

 James (human): Is that it, Vakarian? Are you getting chicken?

Garrus (alien): I don't know what chicken is, though I hear everything in the galaxy tastes like it.

Web Comics

  • In Something Positive, Davan once argued that babies would taste like chicken because of this trope's existance.
    • His friend argued back that babies would taste more like veal, veal being baby cow. Yeah, it's almost literally a Dead Baby Comedy.
      • Veal kind of tastes like chicken, in fact. No slow-twitch fiber development because the calves can't move.
  • In Wapsi Square, Katherine once cooked and ate the squirrels that were destroying her rooftop garden. True to the trope, they tasted like chicken.

Web Original

  • In AH Dot 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.
  • In Freemans Mind Gordon goes on a long rant about people who say every new meat tastes like chicken and concludes the alien he fried tastes like grasshoppers.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Sokka proclaim that some possum chicken a couple of Swamp Dwellers give him tastes like Arctic Hen.
    • This was done a little earlier in the episode, when Due and Tho are musing what their current prey (Momo) tastes like.

 Due: Bet he tastes a lot like possum chicken!

Tho: You think everything tastes like possum chicken!

  • 102 Dalmatians:

 Waddlesworth: Tastes just like chicken.

 Goanna: Uhh... what's a human?

Batty Koda: Delicious and nutritious! Tastes just like chicken!

 Timon: Tastes like chicken.

 Albino Croc: Whoever gets to the bottom of the slide first wins the right to eat Mort, which I hear he tastes like chicken.

Nana: I've had lion before. Tastes like chicken.

 Toki: Candy: Tastes like chicken, if chicken was a candy.

 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.
  • The Flushed Away Show episode Roddy in the Rough, An African Native touches Roddy and puts his finger in his mouth and says "It Tastes Like Chicken."

Real Life

  • 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.[1]. This could possibly be explained by the fact that pigs are near perfect human analogs. That's why they always use pig carcasses on Myth Busters. 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.
    • Or So I Heard.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Your Mileage May Vary, 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. At least, the ones at our Chinese all you can eat do. Unfortunately, that's one of the few places you can get them in the U.S. How good they are depends on the luck of the draw, but it's much more likely you'll get some nice juicy ones on a busy night with lots of turnover. Nothing's worse than a small frog leg dried out under a heat lamp.
    • The only good frog meat I've ever had has been in China (excluding frog legs, which is somehow a more popular dish - that said, the rest of the frog is better), and the way I always describe frog is that it "tastes like chicken, but has 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".

Notes

  1. Human flesh has often been called the "long pork," so perhaps we didn't need a robot to tell us
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