Chicken Nuggets Sales Are Up 20% This Year, with fun shapes selling better than ever

"We Live In a Golden Age of Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets" touts a recent headline in the Wall Street Journal. The article cites new research from NielsenIQ that shows frozen chicken nugget sales up nearly 20% so far this year, breaking $1 billion in revenue.

More importantly, the explore the evolution — and challenges — and the fun-flavored shapes. Mark Tolbert, a senior manager at the Innovation Center for Perdue, expressed his regret to the Journal that the T-Rex Chicken Nuggets didn't have skinnier necks and bigger heads. But there were some physics standards that such a beast simply could not face:

Batches [of fun-shaped chicken nuggets] must withstand flash-freezing, then are dropped as far as 4 feet into packaging. "Broken pieces—that's what we don't want," Mr. Tolbert says. "If you dump nuggets on a tray to put in the oven, you don't want to see a pile of dust.

He says working with chicken nuggets is easier than his previous role designing novelty noodle shapes for Campbell Soup.

Mr. Tolbert also laments to the Journal that his dream of making a Triceratops nugget is next-to-impossible, because it would rely on a 3-dimensional shape that wouldn't pass the test. Alas, such tragedy!

Despite these challenges, the Fun-Shaped Chicken Nugget industry is having a bit of renaissance, building upon its prior innovations and overcoming immense physical trials in order to create the ultimate in Fun Nugget Shape: Baby Yoda.

By the time Farm Rich was developing its Mandalorian-inspired cheesy potato tots, the company's expertise manufacturing pointy edges had improved. The cheese bites, launched in May, are shaped like the head of Grogu, commonly known as Baby Yoda. Engineers worked through multiple iterations to achieve the long, pointy ears.

The ears-to-head proportions also proved challenging, because each head had to be about one ounce of cheese, so children could easily eat them. "You don't want to have to cut it up," says Ciera Womack, Farm Rich's marketing director. "That just destroys the shape and you lose the experience."

Lest you raise your eyebrows at the inclusion of cheesy tots in an article that's ostensibly about chicken nuggets, rest assured that the full Wall Street Journal takes some other weirdly-fascinating segues into things like Dinosaur Chicken Nugget-shaped jewelry, which is unfortunately not edible.

So yes, the whole thing is a little absurd. But we can all agree that Dino Nuggies are dope as hell.

We Live In a Golden Age of Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets [Ellen Byron / The Wall Street Journal]

Image: junco / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)