Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of consuming Burger King’s chicken fries, you’ve probably seen the recent TV ads that paint the product as the result of sexual congress between chickens and french fries. BK discontinued that particular menu item in 2012 after a seven-year run, but chicken fries returned with a vengeance (and that gross/ridiculous ad campaign) in 2015. And as the Associated Press reports, we may have a One Direction member’s mistyped tweet to thank for the chicken fry renaissance.
The sequence of events begins early last year, when Buzzfeed published some peak Buzzfeed content called 35 Foods From Your Childhood That Are Extinct Now, which led to a spike in chicken fry mentions on social media. An even more torrential social media downpour initiated about five months later, on the last day of May. On that fateful day, 1D’s Liam Payne tweeted, “I’m so fulllllll!!! Think I just ate my body weight in chicken fries and sides owwwwww.” (To date, this message has accumulated 94,404 retweets and 156,657 favorites.) It was a curious tweet because chicken fries had been off the market for two years. Directioners and fast food enthuasts alike wondered what was going on. Did 1D have access to a secret back stock of discontinued Burger King products? Had Payne tripped into a wormhole and returned with a belly full of cleverly repackaged skinny chicken fingers? Maybe the chicken fries themselves traveled through time?
The truth is likely that Payne left a comma out of his sentence and actually meant to say he ate “chicken, fries and sides.” (Or “chicken, fries, and sides” if he’s adhering to Stereogum style, but really, who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?)
The preceding tweet also indicated Payne was eating at KFC. But as a Burger King spokesman told the AP, “Whatever he meant, it certainly helped catapult ‘Chicken Fries’ into pop culture consciousness as a follow up to the Buzzfeed story.” The return of chicken fries as a limited-edition promotion was so successful that they were permanently reinstated as a menu item in March of this year. All thanks to cheap listicles and bad grammar! Who says millennials never accomplish anything?