From ice cream to beer: why everything is being flavoured with fried chicken

Many eateries have started using fried chicken as a dessert ingredient.

The world of fried chicken has included bizarre flavour combinations ever since poultry was first hoisted on to a waffle and doused with syrup. But, in general, even the most outré lover of deep-fried fowl has not been keen on it lurking inside their beer or nestling greasily inside their dessert.

Fried Fried Chicken Chicken beer.
 Fried Fried Chicken Chicken beer. Photograph: Veil Brewery

That appears to have changed. Last month, two craft beer companies – New York’s Evil Twin and Virginia’s Veil Brewing Co – unveiled a collaborative beer called “Fried Fried Chicken Chicken” whose delicate flavour stems from trays of takeaway chicken added during the brewing process. Despite not tasting like fried poultry – the amount of meat added to the beer is less than 4% of the total contents – it nonetheless garnered enthusiastic worldwide press coverage, with excited chicken heads buying it in such quantity that it sold out in two days.

Eateries have also started using fried chicken as a dessert ingredient. This month, London-based fried chicken restaurant Ma’ Plucker introduced an afternoon tea featuring a trio of “fried chicken doughnuts” – one of which teams bacon, peanut butter and “Elvis fried chicken” with a jam-filled mini doughnut. Washington DC’s Bantam King restaurant has also tried pushing chicken’s boundaries by creating a “Fried Chicken Skin Ice Cream Sandwich”. The combination of fried chicken skin atop two scoops of vanilla ice-cream and a cinnamon-sugar mixture prompted praise from the Washington Post, which called it “the creamiest cream of chicken soup, but in semisolid form”. Which is meant to be a compliment, even if it doesn’t exactly scream: “Mmm, dessert!”

Ma’ Plucker’s afternoon tea chicken doughnuts.
 Ma’ Plucker’s afternoon tea chicken doughnuts. Photograph: Derek/PR Company Handout

Oddball fried chicken dishes have been growing for the last few years. In 2016, Japan’s annual celebration of fried meat – the Karaage festival – unveiled an ice-cream flavoured to taste like a late-night KFC, prompting much excitement among food bloggers. And in 2011, there was Buffalo Wing Soda, which seemed to be less of a hit. Perhaps not surprising, given that one of the kinder online reviews described it as a drink that “walks that fine line between ‘prank soda’ and ‘legitimate soda’ but tips its hat more towards ‘prank’”.

The reason for people using fast-food ingredients in such an peculiar manner? “Sometimes you’ve got to have fun: that’s the main reason we did it,” offers Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, the founder of Evil Twin Brewing. “But fried chicken is becoming a very cool thing to eat. Especially in the US: it’s so traditional that it’d be like people in the UK flavouring things with shepherd’s pies. That’s how exciting people find it.”