The Forgotten Inventors of Coca-Cola and Chicken Nuggets

Categories: Good Stuff

Doc_Pemberton.jpg
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Is this man the inventor of Coca-Cola, or just an unpopular Confederate general?

Over in the Wall Street Journal, Mike Esterl takes a look back at Doc Pemberton, the 19th-century chemist credited with inventing Coke.

Though Pemberton died in 1888, his character was plucked from obscurity by Coca-Cola's marketing department a couple of years ago. Now his verified Twitter account, where he comments on such topics as modern mustache culture and fashion through the ages, has over 100k followers. (If he were actually still around, Pemberton might be less concerned with the mythology of Coca-Cola and more with #cocainelacedwine, but never mind that.)

Esterl does some digging into the controversy of Pemberton's actual image, the one used by Coca-Cola (seen above left) and finds that a totally different image -- one of a thin, vaguely creepy, balding man -- may in fact be Coke's real inventor . . .

In an interesting piece for Slate, Maryn McKenna remembers the man who invented chicken nuggets. Robert C. Barker grew up during the Depression and went on to become a game-changing professor of poultry science (seriously!). He processed chicken and egg to produce nuggets and other convenient, calorie-rich foods at a time when the American poultry industry needed a serious makeover.

Baker's prototype nugget, developed with student Joseph Marshall, mastered two food-engineering challenges: keeping ground meat together without putting a skin around it, and keeping batter attached to the meat despite the shrinkage caused by freezing and the explosive heat of frying.

Barker published his notes on the process in 1963, 18 years before McDonald's would roll out their similarly processed nuggets, but he's rarely credited for the invention. As McKenna points out, given the reputation of nuggets these days, maybe that's not so bad.

[WSJ; Slate]

Read the most recent posts on our food blog or check our longer weekly reviews. Contact the writer at trao@villagevoice.com, @tejalrao.


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