Herb Lotman: Man of McNuggets

 

Herb Lotman died last week. That name might not ring a bell, but I’d argue that Mr. Lotman has had a profound impact on both western civilization and on my boyish figure. In 1981 the owner of McDonalds went to Mr. Lotman and challenged him to come up with a way to put boneless chicken on their then burger-dominated menu.

The boneless chicken had long been considered something of an impossibility, the gustatory Holy Grail if you will. In the same way that Roger Banister conquered the 4-minute mile, so too did Herb Lotman shatter our fundamental understanding of fried poultry. He created the almost sacred “Chicken McNugget.”

Let me go old school and tell you that, like a lot of things, McNuggets have improved over the years. Originally, the golden orbs were often made of dark meat, and — I want to put this as delicately as possible at 8:40 on a Tuesday morning — I’ll just say that “quality control” was probably not priority #1 in the early 1980’s. If you had 4 edible nuggets out of 6, the Golden Arched gods were smiling at you. I remember occasions when a particularly resilient McNugget would deliver an especially loud crunch, only to discover that hidden beneath that luxuriously intoxicating coating of herbs and spices was a chicken claw or knuckle or gizzard; if you were particularly unfortunate, you might discover that you had had been contentedly chewing away on the original yet seldom advertised “Chicken McBeak”.

Despite these initial culinary inconsistencies, I am proud to point out that Herb Lotman was eventually inducted into the “Meat Hall of Fame.” (You can’t make this stuff up!) At the risk of mixing metaphors and/or fast food chains, I have to believe that honour had to be high on the aptly named Herb’s “bucket list”. Nevertheless, I am such a Nugget aficionado myself that, were there a “Mount Rushmore of Meat,” I believe Herb’s corpulent mug should grace its facade. After all, you could say, there can be no bones about it!

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