The free sample of dubiously sweet-sauced chicken, whether in its Cajun, Japanese or Chinese permutations, is a proud mall food court tradition. But what is it like to actually be the person who gives out those toothpick-stubbed chunks of fast food goodness? The Washington City Paper’s Erin Zimmer decided to find out:
The samples start life not far from where their sources end theirs, at a poultry plant in the Carolinas where boneless dark meat—typically leg and thigh, since white breast meat dries up—is tossed in what Napoliello calls “washer and dryer-like machines.” Hundreds of pounds marinate in Kelly’s signature sweet, soy-sauce-based “Cajun” formulation. […] At Kelly’s Cajun Grill in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, chicken samples don’t seem to last two hours. On a weekend before Christmas, one visored Kelly’s employee hustles through an entire bowl of chicken samples in five minutes. Back at the counter, she hands over her bowl to be refilled; the staff prioritizes filling it over actual customer orders. People in line pause, respecting the holy transaction.
It turns out there’s even a war between Kelly’s Cajun Grill and Panda Express over who invented the radition of giving out mall chicken samples. Who knew?
Free Bird [WCP]
[Image via Washington City Paper]