Apparently, most of the chickens that we eat today are derived from the winners of A&P’s 1948 Chicken of Tomorrow contest. They worked with the USDA to increase the growth of the poultry industry.
It was an alliance with a specific goal: The “development of superior meat-type chickens.” The winning chicken would have broader-breasts, bigger drumsticks, plumper thighs, and above all, more white meat. And they would grow faster, too, so that the consumer would eventually come to depend on the bird as a reliable kitchen staple.
So who won? Arbor Acres White Rocks’ white feathered birds beat the competition in the purebred category, but Red Cornish crosses from the Vantress Hatchery definitely outperformed them. And as it happens, those two breeds would eventually be crossed and become the Arbor Acre breed — whose genetics now dominate poultry farms worldwide.
Makes me think I should make an effort to find places that produce some of the heritage breeds.