Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

The Best White Elephant Gift. Ever.

image from

How do you get one whole 3 1/2-pound chicken into a large can?

Beats me. But someone -- no, a company -- has managed to do it.

Apparently, this was found on the shelf of an average supermarket and brought to a White Elephant party I recently attended. I coveted this mystery can. I'm utterly fascinated with the notion that chicken, bones and all is in this thing.

According to the package, only the chicken (giblet-free, sorry no gravy), chicken broth and a bit of salt sit patiently in this extraordinarily large can. It's not cheap. About $7 per chicken. It's about what you would pay for a chicken you could roast yourself or one that's ready rotisseried and fake-baked-beautiful in the prepared foods section of any market.

But come on. YOU GET YOUR CHICKEN IN A CAN. That is value. Roast chickens are workhorses in the kitchen as a Sunday dinner protein, leftover arsenal and the bones extend the utility as a basis for broth. This Chicken in a Can label appeals to the miser in all of us telling users to gather meat from the bones and use it for casseroles, pasta, or any desired recipe. And don't forget the broth perfect for soups and stews. But in case you really needed some didactic inspiration, there's a recipe for Chicken & Dumplings. Just make sure you've got Bisquick in the pantry.

Of course, once you open it, it means you've got to use it. No re-sealable package to extend the novelty factor of this can that so boldly states there's one whole bloody bird in a can. A group of us began to hypothesize how one can possibly fit a roasting bird into such a narrow can. The theory that made the most sense:  They raise the chickens in the can the way pears are grown in glass bottles, destined for a meeting with pear brandy. In our case, it means once the chicken was of a certain weight, the ends were slapped on. Death by chicken broth drowning.

Then came the ideas on how to serve it. Label ideas aside, what could you do with it? we wondered. I shook the can vigorously and heard the swoosh, swoosh, swoosh of the pure chicken broth. If it were more gelatantized I could see opening the can when guests came over and decanting the jellied mass in one go onto a serving platter a la Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

Wobble. Wobble.

That's holiday cheer.