The humble chicken: it's kept philosophers speculating through the ages (will we ever know which came first?), provided ample material for comedians (why did it cross the road? leg or breast?) and now it's proving to be the basis for an interesting little interview exercise we've been using whilst recruiting developers to help Hubbub in our efforts to make the world a better place. The question: how would you design a chicken? What do you consider a vital ingredient in an eggselent bird? What trade-offs are necessary to achieve your goal? We've found it quite helpful for getting a feel for how people approach a problem, and for a bit of fun, our answers to the question are below. We know how the Ginger Pig would answer, because we're used to delivering their magnificent 100-day chickens. But what about you - how would you design a chicken?
Chickens currently have 3 big problems.
- You have to choose between meat and eggs. A layer makes a deeply unsatisfying roast once its done.
- A chicken's eggs tend not to be very large. Have you ever tried having a boiled egg for lunch? It's not enough, you need two.
- They get eaten by foxes.
- Have the chicken's meat develop at the same rate that its ability to lay decreases. You'll be able to tell when its ready to eat because it stops laying eggs. Time to heat up the oven and get some roast potatoes on the go!
- Make the eggs twice as large. This will cause all calculations as to how long it takes to boil an egg to change, but it'll be worth it to avoid the hassle of taking the top off two, and as a bonus you get more space to dip soldiers in it.
- Friggin' laser beams.
For me this is quite simple. The problems with a chicken are that there is too much breast, and not enough leg. Or legs for that matter. On top of that I always make soup from the bones, but the body of the chicken is an irritating size for my saucepans. So we’ll need to sort that out too.
So the solution is to have more legs, no breast meat and a body shape that fits in a saucepan (we'll put the lungs into the neck).
The other issue is eggs. Because I’m doing away with most of the body, I don’t think this chicken is going to be able to produce eggs. And I can’t have that because eggs are the kings of food. So my mutant chicken is actually going to be a cockerel, and the female can lay eggs. Henceforth we shall eat male chickens only, and females can lay eggs.
The best chicken eggs are grass fed. So the female of the species needs to hoover up grass and little else. Bison eat a lot of grass. In fact the most grass of all the grazers. So the female needs the head of the bison. In fact, let’s just call her a bison-chicken. A bison that laid eggs would be perfect. But if a bison laid an egg, the egg would break when it fell to the ground. So it needs to be a bison with very small legs. No, it needs to be a very small bison with very small legs. And buffalo wings. That's where they come from, right?
To my mind, a chicken has two main functions:
- Pop them in the oven and they taste down-right yummy
- They lay eggs, one of the most versatile foods known to humanity - boil it, fry it, poach it, scramble it, race with it, paint it & roll it, you name it!
The meat is great, but really there's nothing more important than the eggs. They're essential in the continuation of the super-chicken species, and besides, I'm biased because hard-boiled eggs were about the only thing my wife could keep down at breakfast time during the worst extremes of her morning sickness.
The thing about chickens is that they only have a single ovary - clearly it's not enough! They need another! But all that extra piping's going to take up some room inside, and overly large hens apparently take longer to start laying. As a trade-off, we'll probably have to sacrifice some of the breast meat to keep their weight down. It's okay though, we can make up for that by giving them four legs instead of the usual two.
What do you think?
If you're interested in talking to us more seriously about chicken redesign (and you know, coding and stuff) then take a look here.