The Golden Nugget

In light of Foco’s revamped recipe, students debate the ideal chicken nugget.

by Max Waitz | 1/25/23 2:15am

1-25-23-michaelbond-nuggets
by Michael Bond / The Dartmouth

Looking around the Class of 1953 Commons this term, not much has changed. Bake My Day still has baked goods, the salad station still has salads and the soup station still has, well, soup. However, upon my arrival to campus, I could not stop hearing about a change to what is perhaps the biggest staple of college dining — chicken nuggets. And after I had the opportunity to try them, I immediately understood what all of the excitement was about. 

If you ask me, Foco’s new chicken nuggets are simply excellent. When it comes to all the things that matter about these incredibly popular breaded pieces of chicken — taste, crunchiness and overall texture — the new chicken nuggets excel.

The other students I talked to were inclined to agree. Jack Stark ’26 said that he “really likes them” before adding that “they remind me of Chicken McNuggets.” 

“From what I’ve heard, everyone’s responding pretty well,” Stark said. “I haven’t heard a complaint about the chicken nuggets yet.”

Jackson Scarborough ’26, speaking over a plate of chicken nuggets and french fries in Foco, said he found the new nuggets “immaculate” and “delectable.” 

As for the origin story of Dartmouth Dining’s new nuggets, executive chef of Dartmouth Dining Services Christopher Kaschak explained that the substitution started out as a supply chain issue.

“We had certain products that we can and cannot get,” Kaschak said. “The [chicken nuggets] that we were originally getting were no longer available… We said we could take [these other chicken nuggets] in, and we’ll try it and see how it’s received.”

However, when the supply chain problems with the original chicken nugget supplier were eventually resolved, Kaschak was left with a big decision: Keep the new chicken nuggets or revert back to the old ones?

Ultimately, Kaschak decided that the new nuggets were here to stay. 

When he was notified about the option  of going back to the old nuggets, Kaschak recounted saying, “Don’t do it. These [new chicken nuggets] are very well received and it seems that we’re serving a lot more of them, so obviously the student population seems to like them much more.”

After hearing praises of the new staple, I wanted to see how Dartmouth’s chicken nuggets compared to those at other colleges.

Miles Quarterman, a sophomore at Yale University, had the chance to try the College’s variation while visiting a friend over the weekend. However, he was not able to compare the quality of Yale’s chicken nuggets to Dartmouth’s because, according to Quartman, Yale “doesn’t do nuggets, we do tenders.”

“I think I kind of like the big Yale tenders more, just because they taste less artificial,” Quartman said.”

Avery Rhodes, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, also recently came to campus and had a chance to snack on Foco’s chicken nuggets. When asked whether Dartmouth or the University of Wisconsin had the better chicken nugget, Rhodes leaned towards Hanover’s variation.

“It’s hard for me to really say, but I’ve got to go with Dartmouth,” Rhodes said. “They’re good. They’re nice and soft and squishy. [Dartmouth] has better sauce selection too.”

Having compared Foco’s chicken nuggets to those at other college dining halls, I decided to take one more step: comparing our nuggets to what are arguably the most well-known chicken nuggets in the world, McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.

Stark, a self-described Chicken McNugget fan, said that the fast-food chain’s famous nuggets will always take first place, but that Foco’s offering remains a tasty alternative.

 “I wouldn’t say [Dartmouth’s nuggets are] better, because McDonald’s just has their own way of doing it,” Stark said. “... But these are up there. I’d say they’re close — they’re pretty close in relation.”

It seems that when it comes to chicken, Dartmouth Dining has just about found the golden nugget. And although some argue that they don’t quite reach the level of McDonald’s nuggets, it seems that what started as a supply chain issue has become a happy accident. Of course, the revamped poultry is just one small shift in a large array of dining options — but for many students, it’s the little things that make a difference.

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