Elie, MB –
Chicken thumbs are grabbing market share from chicken fingers and stealing attention away from chicken wings thanks to a farmer from Elie.
Lester Friesen of Elie never thought his idea for a new chicken dish would take off like it has.
“It’s been amazing. We’ve made them for years and our friends kept telling us to start selling them,” Friesen said.
Friesen’s chicken thumbs are a family tradition. His grandmother Alma Dyck created the dish in the early 1950’s and originally called them Dyck’s Chicken which was later changed to chicken Dycks, a name Friesen felt needed to be changed.
“We still call them chicken Dycks but when we focussed tested the name on non-Mennonite groups they were offended and grossed out. We decided to call them chicken thumbs instead,” Friesen explained.
Made from 100% ground chicken parts, chicken thumbs are wider and shorter than traditional chicken fingers.
“All the Friesen-Dycks make them with a signature ‘thumb nail’ to make them unique,” Friesen said. “In our focus group tests people thought the ‘thumb nail’ made them more fun. It’s also another reason why we didn’t call them chicken Dycks.”
The new product line is marketed with salt and pepper, honey mustard, dill and garlic flavours.
“We just butcher the chicken, toss the whole carcass into a grinder, add flavouring and breading then partially bake it before flash freezing it. So basically, they are exactly the same as a chicken finger or nugget,” Friesen admitted.
The company has attracted the attention of several fast food chains who are selling chicken thumbs in test markets.
“It’s going great,” Friesen said. “Who would have thought turning our chicken Dycks into thumbs would have been such a hit.”
Chicken thumbs are available better grocery stores and fine restaurants in the Central Plains region.