Monday, August 12, 2013

Do You Like Bones


Recently, when my son returned home for spring break, the two of us sat down to watch the new On the Road with Jack Kerouac movie. As this was taking place my wife was on her way out the door and asked if she needed to pick us up anything to eat. Before I could respond, the kid shouts across the house…

“I want Buffalo Wild Wings, make them boneless please.”

Well, at least he said please, but boneless…really?

We have been over this topic countless times before. In fact, we have been engaged in The Great Bone Debate pretty much from the time he surfaced from the womb.

I felt so ashamed. I felt as if I had failed him as a father, but as the years passed, I realized that I wasn’t isolated.

Other people my age had taken me into their confidence and shared howtheir children were refusing bones as well.

Like many pet peeves of mine, this tragedy got buried by more current nuisances, and life went on as usual when my sons break was over, and I brought him back to a corn field in Iowa to finish off his junior year.

However, I’ll bet I didn’t even make it 48 hours until this maddening topic reared its ugly head once more.

I was in Minneapolis, on a loading dock, with a young chef, pimping bread while a semi pulled in and the driver began to drag pallets of product past us.

Wouldn’t you know it; one of the first things that caught my eye was a stack of boxes. Boxes filled with boneless chicken.

The chef was nice, and I didn’t want to offend, but I couldn’t resist and asked…

“Are those for a special? You guys still sell meat on the bone, right?”

Now the young guy smiles and jokingly responds…

“Well, if we get a large party of older clients…we’ve been known to outsource.”

I began to laugh and told the chef about the tension that meat bones had created within my clan.

Then he said something that caught me by surprise, it actually was quite brilliant…

“I know you might have been in this industry longer than I’ve been alive, and I don’t doubt that you’ve learned a lot of stuff, but just because something makes sense, that doesn’t make it relevant.”  

True Dat, I thought as it occurred to me that the entire generation that followed mine has been marketed to differently concerning food options.

And even though our city, our state has strong initiatives that educate Minnesota’s youth on how important nutrition is, everything eventually boils down to corporations and marketing, doesn’t it?

Recently I received one of the food industry publications that I never signed up for, but somebody - somewhere thought it I was important enough to send it my way to scan it real quick before tossing it in the trash. Often times the majority of content in these rags are speculations as to what will be the next wave concerning all things food.

One quote that stuck out in my mind was from Christopher Muller who is Dean at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration.

“If it can’t be held in one hand, or a cup holder, don’t bother making it.”

I’ve heard this theory before. It usually comes up when I’m sharing cocktails with somebody else who works in hospitality. Usually somebody will mention how they have a friend or relative that works in some realm of food development ideation and although nobody is supposed to be privy to this inside information, it’s a fact; Big Brother is going to have America consuming 75% of its meals in gas stations.

Now the young chef on the loading dock starts handling a loaf of my mustard dill bread as if it were the Baby Jesus. Carefully he cradles this delicacy in his arms. As his lips slowly prepare to part, I am prepared to thanks him for the accolades, but my most recent recipe didn’t even get a mention.

“You know that KFC is moving to boneless chicken right?”

I tilted my head sideways for a second, kind of like your dog does when you pretend to throw a chunk of meat but actually you palm it instead.

“Yeah-yeah, I know that the Colonel makes chicken strips but…”

The was no buts, my young colleague interrupted….

“No, I’m not talking about ancillary items or menu safe harbors. They’re going to commit, it’s official, the bone is getting tossed.’

When I asked for a source, my bone hating friend smiled with pride when he announced (almost as if he was friends with the guy) that it was covered by USA TODAY.

Later that day when I returned to the plant, I hit Google and there it was, a lengthy story written by Bruce Horovitz.

To paraphrase the piece, it pretty much highlighted how KFC is going to shift its focus from family meals to individual meals, and most of their sales are projected to be boneless chicken.

But the part that sunk the dagger into my heart was when I read their new ad slogan…


I’m not even sure if I know what that means, or if I want to, but I don’t think I like it.

So I’m still in my office right? And I began pulling up data. I start listing quotes like the one from Professor Jeffrey W. Savell / Leader of the Meat Science Section in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University…

“I believe that cooking these steaks with the bone helps to form them so that they are more uniform in thickness when cooked and protects the lean from being overcooked.”

Then there’s always Steven L. Moore, Director of Innovation at Brand Formula.

“Bone, in many cases seals the muscle from losing meat juices as it is cooked. So when a muscle is deboned there is usually a large area now that is exposed muscle, no longer sealed to help maintain juices through cooking.”

So all of a sudden, in the midst of compiling these quotes to defend my point, I’m pretty sure I received an epiphany, hand delivered by the saints themselves.

“Why do you toil Klecko? The kid was right… just because something makes sense, that doesn’t make it relevant.”

Who can argue with the saints, or Americas youth?



  1. Tomorrow is already here.

  2. If you want to see a sad sight, sneak up sometime on one of those boneless poultry farms ... well, the bone-in farms aren't much better, mobility-wise.

    Good piece!

  3. I always thought there was a kind of virtue to eating a chicken leg carefully, getting near the bone, maximizing the benefit. I suspect this will mean larger portions, because the visual will be smaller -- you will want 6 drumsticks instead of 3 -- meaning more chickens will live those awful lives to get us through half time.

  4. I think it's to get us used to eating chicken that can be make from liquid chicken.