Philadelphia Man Completes Chicken Challenge: 40 Birds in 40 Days

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday November 7, 2022
Originally published on November 7, 2022

A 31-year-old Philadelphia man completed a self-imposed six-week chicken challenge, subsisting on rotisserie chicken for 40 consecutive days and becoming an internet hero in the process. He says he did it to unite "all people, no matter what background they come from, their political point of view, race, sexual orientation."

"Alexander Tominsky began the bizarre food challenge on September 28, sharing updates to millions on social media along the way, as citizens quickly became captivated by his questionable eating habits," UK newspaper the Daily Mail said.

"Tominsky, a waiter at local steakhouse Barclay Prime, said he first set out on the undertaking because 'it seemed like the right thing to do' — and he has since stayed true to his word, consuming one store-bought roast chicken daily for the past six weeks."

Tominsky proved he ruled the roost on Nov. 6, sitting down at noon to dine on his 40th, and final, rotisserie dinner on a pier where a table and chair had been set up and hundreds of supporters had gathered to witness the milestone. His hordes of fans had found their way to the site thanks to a flyer he had posted around town, as well as on Twitter, where he documented much of his unusual gastronomic journey.

The timing seemed significant. Just the day before, "the city's hometown Phillies bowed out of the World Series in an ill-fated Game 6 against the Houston Astros."

Tominsky told the media that he was just doing his part to bring a little light to the world.

"Tominsky said he was glad to see a positive response on social media amid his efforts — further stating that he aimed to unite people through a common meal during whatever unrest may be occurring around the country," the Daily Mail relayed.

"I knew that this was going to be very powerful," Tominsky said, going on to add that his quest was "uniting all people, no matter what background they come from, their political point of view, race, sexual orientation."

Tominsky started out thinking he'd eat chicken for a week straight, that seemed too meager an accomplishment, so he extended his challenge to himself to make it 30 days. Eventually, he moved that goalpost, too, settling on 40 days.

But it hasn't been all fowl and games. Indeed, the task of completing the 40-day chicken challenge was described as something of an ordeal by The New York Times, which detailed that "after a couple weeks, he began feeling cramped up, bloated from all the sodium, and said that he came to believe that he could 'feel the pulse of my heart in my stomach.'"

The Times further reported that, according to Tominsky, the gustatory element of the 40-part feast was nothing to crow about.

"The dark meat is too salty and greasy, he said. The white meat is dry. When he pokes and grabs the meat, his fingers become oily, and each time he digs back in for more, the slimy sounds make him recoil."

The Times added that Tominsky "lost about 16 pounds over the 40 days," with the single chicken dinner usually being his "only meal of the day."

"Still, Mr. Tominsky said, doing it felt worthwhile because the downsides from eating 40 chickens felt 'microscopic in comparison to what the world lives with and sees everyday,'" the account related.

"This is going to sound strange," Tominsky told the press, "but if I happened to, for some silly reason, pass away from this, I would have been OK with the sacrifice."

Tominsky's daily updates on Twitter documented his epicurean odyssey and thrilled thousands online, even as the photos he posted seemed to reflect his diminishing appetite for the project. Have a look at a few of his tweets, below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.