eat rubber chicken

Argos77

Senior Member
Colombia-Español
"Paul Allen is returning to Albuquerque for a celebration of that event -- this time with his $15 million jet and three foot red carpet. At a time when I was killing brain cells, this guy was founding an empire. He has come to eat rubber chicken in honor of the Altair's 20th anniversary."

What does the expression "eat rubber chicken" mean?

Thank you very much!
 
  • jpyvr

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    At conferences, celebrations and banquets in hotels and convention centres there is often a large dinner served to many guests. Often the main course is chicken breast, which if not cooked well or kept warm too long develops a chewy rubbery texture. Therefore, "rubber chicken" has become a code-word for bad food served at a banquet or conference.

    Hope this helps.
     

    bluegiraffe

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We perhaps need some context. Who is this man? What is the event? What's the significance of Albuquerque?

    EDIT:
    As I was posting this JPYVR also replied. I have to say, I've never heard this usage before.
     
    Last edited:

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    This is a slightly modified reference to the common AE expression, the rubber chicken circuit. That is a descriptive term for the many fund-raising events politicians and others attend. Such events are known for insipid speeches, dreadful cheap food, badly prepared and often served cold.
     

    jpyvr

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    Bluegiraffe - Perhaps the expression hasn't made it over to England, but I'd venture to guess that there's a good quantity of rubber chicken served at speeches and banquets in the UK too.:)

    By the way, just to answer the question above about who Paul Allen is, he co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, but left there long ago to enjoy his billions.
     

    franc 91

    Senior Member
    English - GB
    The rubber-chicken circuit was the name given to the endless series of public dinners and luncheons Irish politicians had to go to, when they were off touring Ireland raising funds and making speeches. Very often the speeches went on for far too long and the food (chicken usually) that had already been cooked earlier had to be reheated, hence the rubber chicken. This typically refers to Fianna Fàil's social events in the 70's and 80's. He's having a joke at the expense of Paul Allen, who's got everything but still has to partake of the unavoidable 'rubber chicken'.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Thanks to franc 91 I will now have to go hunting for the earliest citation of "rubber chicken circuit", to see if it is IrE, AE, or some other English in origin. Wikipedia seems quite familiar with the term:

    The term "rubber chicken" is used disparagingly to describe the food served at political or corporate events, weddings, and other gatherings where there are a large number of guests who require serving in a short timeframe. Chicken, pre-cooked, is held at serving temperature for some time and then dressed with a sauce as it is served. Consequently the chicken meat is tough or “rubbery.”
    Someone who "travels the rubber chicken circuit" is said to do so by attending or making speeches at many such gatherings, often as part of political campaigning.
    According to an entry in the American Dialect Society pages, the OED has 1959 as its earliest citation, while rubber chicken circuit can be found in U.S. newspaper articles from as early as 1937.

    The Political Bandwagon
    Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Jan 2, 1939. p. A4 (1 page)

    The Political Bandwagon
    Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Dec 26, 1938. p. A4 (1 page)

    The Political Bandwagon
    Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Dec 19, 1938. p. A4 (1 page)
    .
    Council Again Defies Mayor; Breach Widens After Approval Placed on Appropriation
    Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Dec 15, 1938. p. 10 (1 page)

    BILL HENRY SAYS:
    Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Jul 23, 1937. p. A9 (1 page):
    Just a few more jottings from the diary of a journeyman sports scribe--in case you're interested in what such strange persons do when they aren't dodging (1) people who want jobs, (2) people who want free tickets or (3)
    offers to swap a free lunch for a free speech on the Rubber Chicken Circuit.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    source: http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0401D&L=ADS-L&P=R6214
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks to franc 91 I will now have to go hunting for the earliest citation of "rubber chicken circuit", to see if it is IrE, AE, or some other English in origin.
    In case it helps you in your search, Mr ChickenFeet cuchuflete, here is the OED's entry:
    rubber-chicken circuit N. Amer. slang, an after-dinner-speaking circuit;
    [...]
    1959 Maclean's Mag. 23 May 1/1 Next year's *rubber-chicken circuit is being sewed up by three Toronto women with a public-speaking agency called Canadian Celebrity Bureau. 1977 Rolling Stone 5 May 47/3 He spent the winter making speeches on the rubber-chicken circuit.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    It's definitely Irish, I can you assure of that - ceart go leor.
    I don't doubt your word that it is known and used in Irish English. Do you have any citations from before 1937 that might suggest that the expression is of Irish origin?

    Thanks to Missie Loob, she of Heavenly Hen fame, we know now that the OED folk think it's of North American breeding:

    "N. Amer. slang"

    .
    .


    Off-topic aside: All the rubber chicken models I've ever seen were somewhat, errr lifelike, but none had feathers. Could this suggest anything useful about etymology, the spread of chicken-plucking mania, or other topics of little worth?
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top