Unsurprisingly, you would expect from saying that fun little phrase “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” and anyone under 25 years of age would probably instantly think you’re talking about PUBG (Player Unknowns Battlegrounds). But what exactly is the origins of this catchy little phrase?
It is very common for those who are a bit older in age to associate this phrase with the Las Vegas scene, this is because during the 1970’s an actual chicken dinner in Las Vegas used to cost less than $2.00 and the usual bet at that time was about $2.00, so when you won you had enough for the chicken dinner. Hence “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!”
However, most do not know that this phrase actually goes back another 40 years. All the way to 1933 in fact, President Roosevelt’s policies ignite new businesses and emphasis of workers’ rights propels one of the first Milwaukee strikes at the Sperry Candy Company.
Edgar Wood who was the attorney for Sperry Candy Company helped bring the company and strike leaders together to settle this dispute. After everyone agreed and was happy with the re-negotiations, Edgar Wood stood up and proclaimed the mutual beneficial settlement as “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner.”
Now we can only wonder, did the phrase come to him on the spot out of the blue, or did he already have this one liner ready to go, we can also wonder what he might have said if the workers negotiations went south?
Sorry kids, PUBG didn’t invent the saying “Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner.
A candy bar called Chicken Dinner.
Introduced in 1923 by the Sperry Candy Company of Milwaukee, the oddly named bar sold for 10 cents and featured a roasted chicken on each package. “An expensive, high-grade candy” was how a 1924 Sperry ad described Chicken Dinner, giving it a puzzling air of exclusivity considering it didn’t contain any actual chicken (it was filled with nuts instead, and was coated in chocolate), and kids were the target market. Customers may have been tempted to simply stare at the succulent image of the roasted chicken rather than fork over the 10 cents.
Production of Chicken Dinner bars ceased in 1962 after Pearson’s, the makers of Bit-O-Honey, bought Sperry. All told, Chicken Dinner spent an impressive 40 years on shelves. Although it’s often referenced as one of the more outlandish relics of candy’s colorful history, Chicken Dinner was ahead of its time as a cleverly advertised, out-of-the-ordinary product.
It is said that Chicken Dinner paved the way for contemporary energy and meal replacement bars like Power Bar, Clif, and Luna. Winner, winner!