|In the late nineties, internet rumors began to spread that KFC-- formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken-- had begun to produce chicken products made from a genetically engineered chicken. The story variously described the chickens as hideously distorted featherless creatures with huge breasts, fed through feeding tubes, and perhaps even without heads or with extra drumsticks. According to this urban legend, KFC was forced to shorten its name from "Kentucky Fried Chicken" because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that their chickens were so altered that they could no longer be legally considered "chicken." |
Here's one version of the story posted on several internet hoax sites:
Variants of the story have also implicated the chicken products of McDonalds, Tyson Foods, and others. Outside of the U.S., the FDA is replaced by other state food regulatory authorities.
In a related set of urban legends, some versions provide the engineered chicken's top-secret-research model number: "Animal 57." The Animal 57 stories include a broader range of food companies (Taco Bell, Pepsico, etc.) and often describe the beast in even more horrific terms: a giant blob of animal flesh (not necessarily chicken) suspended in a huge nutrient vat, from which slices of meat are periodically harvested.
The reality is that these genetically engineered freak chickens have never existed. No genetically engineered chickens (freaks or not) have ever been used in commercial food production in the U.S. In fact, to date, no genetically engineered animal of any kind has ever been approved for human consumption in any country in the world. The often-cited University of New Hampshire study does not exist.
KFC formally shortened its name in 1991 to reflect changes in its menu which incorporated more non-fried chicken products. KFC still uses the word "chicken" in its menus and advertising to this day.
An even earlier version of the Animal 57 myth was born in Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth's 1952 sci-fi novel The Space Merchants. In the future corporation-dominated world of this novel, humans eat meat carved from a giant, living blob of chicken flesh named "Chicken Little."