In the 1990s, I wanted to expand beyond fresh chicken to new value-added products. Chicken nuggets were becoming very popular thanks to a certain fast food restaurant chain. There were only a few brands available for retail purchase, so I started looking into chicken nugget production. Boy was I shocked! The American way of producing chicken nuggets was as it still is today – chopped and formed chicken parts pumped onto a conveyor belt in whatever shape you want, battered, breaded, fried, and sold fully cooked.
Around this time, I took a trip to Switzerland and discovered a better tasting, better looking variety of chicken nuggets at a small restaurant in Brunnen on Lake Lucerne made with whole breast meat chunks of chicken. There was no comparison between the texture and flavor of those nuggets and the ones I experienced at home. That trip, like many others in my lifetime, gave me new ideas to bring back to Bell & Evans to develop.
It took me time to convince others back home to buy into my idea of a real chicken nugget, but from our launch in 2001 to today, the Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nugget has stayed consistent. We cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into chunks which is the main ingredient. That means NO SKIN, NO OTHER CHICKEN PARTS and NO FILLERS added to the meat. Our chicken is 100% Air Chilled for tenderness and exceptional flavor. Our breast-meat chunks are brined, battered and lightly breaded with quality ingredients. Read our label and you’ll be impressed by ingredients you actually recognize! We set the breading in our own organic soybean oil that comes from 100% U.S.-sourced organic soybeans that we use in our organic chicken feed. Our nuggets are NOT FULLY COOKED. The uncooked nuggets are nitrogen frozen to lock in their flavor and freshness. We’ve made many process upgrades along the way, but the “formula” for making them has remained consistent for 20 years and counting!
For Bell & Evans, it’s all about the customer experience. I like to eat good food, and I will only sell products I want to eat and feel good about selling. Our chicken nuggets are as close to homemade as you can buy in a store. They have the perfect chicken “bite,” not spongy like the chopped and formed varieties. You actually taste chicken, not just breading, and they aren’t loaded with sodium. Since they are cooked for the first time by the consumer, they are tender and juicy. That’s why kids and adults both love our chicken nuggets and why we get so many compliments in unsolicited chicken nugget reviews. Once you try a Bell & Evans Chicken Nugget, there’s no going back!
After 20 successful years, you would think other producers would copycat our nuggets. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are still the most coveted part of a chicken, so when low-cost producers can grind other “white meat” parts of the chicken into nuggets and reserve their whole breasts, you understand why the chopped and formed nugget suits them better! It’s important to pay attention to how your food is made, and you can see exactly how we make our nuggets in this video.
It’s hard to believe we are already celebrating 20 years of our nugget! Our customers have been asking us for many years to sell a family-size portion of nuggets, so as part of our celebration, we launched a 30 oz. resealable bag that is reaching stores soon. Our team put together new nugget recipes and came up with a slogan for a social media promotion – #ANuggetAbove. We can’t wait to hear from our long-time customers and to earn a few new ones too!