Food News

How on Earth Is Fried Chicken the Best First Date Food?

May 26, 2017

Earlier this week, Hinge, one of many dating apps that caters to lonely hearts in their mid-20s, released the findings of its survey regarding the best ways a first date can guarantee a second date. Respondents were concentrated in major metropolitan areas across the country—New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.

There are some vaguely interesting insights hidden in the survey. For example, 79% of respondents in New York prefer to go to movies or shows on their first dates. The most popular drink to get on a first date is the Bloody Mary at 50%, trailed by an old fashioned at 35%.

But I was utterly confounded, borderline awestruck, at respondents’ admission that the food most likely to guarantee a second date was fried chicken, commanding 24% of the vote. (Not far behind was, simply, “vegan” at 23%. Poor pancakes, sitting soppily at 9%, behind pizza’s 15% and sushi’s 19%.)

Well, I’m not quite sure what to say. I’m usually self-conscious and dainty with my food on a first date if I opt for dinner (which I rarely do), ordering a small plate of salad alongside a drink. I'm careful not to expose my messy, occasionally feral eating habits—which tend to emerge when, say, I’m facing a bucket of fried chicken.

Shop the Story

Fried chicken when you're in a relationship? Sure; no problem. I'd even consider ordering it on a third date, if the vibe's right. But the only first date I can remember where I ordered fried chicken also happened to be my last with that person.

What's the verdict: Is fried chicken an acceptable date food? And what is the best first date food, anyway? Make your voice heard in the comments section.

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Vidya
  • MichiElise
  • mrslarkin
  • 702551
  • Pastraminator
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Vidya June 10, 2017
I will forever maintain that dinner on a first date is always a terrible idea. That's just the rules. By me.
MichiElise May 30, 2017
Maybe there's something to a messy meal. Year 2001, and 16 years later I have never lived down our first date, when I ordered what I thought would be a light shrimp dish. Turned out to be 5 or 6 large peel and eat shrimp. I ate about 3 to do them justice, but it was such a mess I had to stop, no matter how delicious they were. I made it through with no butter spots on my skirt or white top, and the memory makes us laugh still.
mrslarkin May 28, 2017
Fried chicken is a beautiful first date food. My first date food was Burger King, after The Replacements concert at the Beacon Theater in 1987. The most memorable part of the evening was when the homeless man in the BK tried to light his toes on fire.
702551 May 28, 2017
The conclusions from this "article" are not surprising to me.

Sushi is expensive and if you do it right, you are sitting side by side at the counter, not a particular "romantic" situation. Plus, you need to be in a place that has a good supply of decent fish. Much of the USA doesn't qualify unless you are a big baller with a fat wallet.

Chicken is one of the least expensive animal proteins and one fairly widespread.

Remember, this utterly moronic "statistic" is based on one app essentially based on one demographic (Millennials) in a statistically insignificant sample size.

There is almost zero relevance to the real world.
Pastraminator May 28, 2017
Tom Jones scene, expressing your concerns l :)
Author Comment
Mayukh S. May 29, 2017
I love this movie and scene!!! Thanks for reminding me of it.
Whiteantlers May 26, 2017
I can't stand fried chicken. Ideal first date food is Korean barbecue where you cook at the table.
Foodio C. May 26, 2017
I ordered ribs on my first date with my husband. He has since teased me about it relentlessly. I felt so comfortable with him from day #1 that it never occurred to me to act any other way.
PHIL May 26, 2017
My last first date was 1985 so I will reserve comment
Kenzi W. May 26, 2017
HalfPint May 26, 2017
I don't believe in "being yourself" on first dates. I think you should be the best of your 'real' self, but totally you. That comes later when you're committed (for the most part) to this person. This means that I wouldn't order fried chicken as first date food either. Too messy. I see lots of napkins needed and I want to concentrate on my date - the person, not his greasy fingers or mine. Ditto for anything with a red or dark color sauce. I once admitted this to a man and he accused me of being insincere/inauthentic. He went on to lecture me about how I should be who I was and that he would prefer a woman who would order the spaghetti marinara on her first date, even if she was wearing a white shirt. I thought how sweet and idealistic he was, but he would probably run for the hills if he saw Real Me put ketchup on my fried chicken.
HalfPint May 26, 2017
that should be "but not totally yourself".
Sarah M. May 26, 2017
I would never have thought fried chicken could lead to love until I experienced it myself. I went on a first date to a local food festival with every intention to be dainty and mysterious. My date and I saw a fried chicken tent at the same time and I thought, "That sounds so good right now." At the same time, my date (who had zero radar for daintiness and/or mystery) turned to me and asked, "Do you want to split fried chicken?" I was so taken by his realness that three years later, I answered yes to an equally important question.
Author Comment
Mayukh S. May 26, 2017