Chicken McNoggin

The picture of a deep-fried chicken head (top) was one of the most forwarded email attachments of 2001. The story that accompanied it claimed that a woman had ordered happy meals at McDonald's for her two children, and then:

While they were eating the 6-year old was more interested in the slide across the street then in the chicken nuggets which he didn't even touch. So the mother decided she would eat them. She was in for quite a surprise... Without actually watching what she was doing she was bringing a chicken nugget to her mouth, just when her 8-year old son yelled not to eat it. So she looked at the nugget to find that - dispite the crust - it looked just like a chicken's head. In fact it actually was a chicken's head. Nobody knows how it got there.

The story is almost true, but not quite. On November 28, 2000 Katherine Ortega (pictured, bottom) bought a box of chicken wings at a McDonald's in Newport News, Virginia. They were "Mighty Wings," which were being test-marketed in the area -- not Chicken McNuggets. She took the meal home, and then discovered that it contained the fried chicken head. She contacted the restaurant, which offered her a refund or another box, and then she contacted the media.

Reporters who examined the head said the batter on it looked exactly like the batter on the wings, so it didn't seem to be something she had created herself. However, lawyers advised her against suing. She had found the head before biting down into it, and a chicken head in a box of chicken parts cannot not be considered a foreign object (unlike a rat's head, for instance). Both these factors lessened her ability to make a claim of psychological trauma.

The photo of the chicken head was taken by Sangjib Min for the Virginia Daily Press. It was never reported how the chicken head managed to make it through the manufacturing process to end up in Ortega's meal.
Links and References
"You deserve a beak today," (Dec 1, 2000). The Washington Post.
Photo Categories: False Captions, Food, Real But Suspected Of Being Fake, 2000-2004

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