I only learned about "Bush legs" on this forum a few years ago --- IIRC Kolohe said something about them? --- but the "devolution" of chicken from feast-food to cheap-food is something I picked up from various sources the past few years (especially researching a hacky list-sicle I did a few months back, on holiday/special-occasion food recipes from around the world, AND reading "The Little House Cookbook," containing recipes for pretty much every food and drink item mentioned anywhere in the Little House books.)JD wrote: ↑05 Jun 2020, 15:26I don't remember if the article was posted here, but here's an interesting piece about when Bush and Gorbachev signed a trade deal and American chickens (particularly legs, which became known as "Bush's legs") became available in Russia:Jennifer wrote: ↑05 Jun 2020, 15:14Expensive compared to pretty much every other form of meat commonly available at the time. IIRC, it wasn't until the 1960s that chicken (at least in America/First World countries) became more of a "common everyday" food rather than a special-occasion thing. (Also, today's chickens are far bigger and meatier than the chickens of yore, and thanks to artificial lighting and other modern developments the egg-layers can produce eggs pretty much year-round rather than shut down for winter, and so forth.
"Each Bush leg was the size of a Soviet chicken," recalls Anya Ulinich, laughing. She is a writer in Brooklyn now, but in 1990 she was a teenager in Moscow. "Or at least it seemed sort of that way. It was like an elephant next to a Chihuahua."
While these days consumers may pay top dollar for a small, flavorful heritage breed, back then, the Soviet chicken stock was not a source of pride, Ulinich explains. "All these jokes were always made about the Soviet chicken — that it ran a marathon, or several. Or it got an award for being the longest-lived chicken. They were kind of scrawny and blue and dark."
The Little House Cookbook IIRC is where I first encountered the (obvious in retrospect) observation that today, there's actually two different food-chicken flocks raised in the US: there are "meat chickens" and there are "egg-laying chickens" with no real overlap between the two, whereas in the old days people of course had just the one (much smaller) flock for everything.
And the typical chicken back then was MUCH smaller and scrawnier than what you will typically get today. (The LHC also mentioned --- repeatedly, and at length --- that today's chickens taste different from what Laura ate, not only due to radically different diets and lifestyles, but also because today's commercially farmed chickens generally aren't even the same breeds as what the old farmers had.)