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John Madden and Turducken

"It's a turkey... Stuffed with a duck... Stuffed with a chicken!  Then you throw it in a deep fryer.  Out comes Turducken!"  - NFL Hall of Famer John Madden

One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving football in years gone by was legendary NFL announcer John Madden's annual proclamation of his love for the fried goodness of Turducken.  I begged my parents for it year after year, and actually, to this day, I have never actually had Turducken on Thanksgiving day.  

You may have never heard of Turkducken and thought, "What is it?" or "Where did this thing ever come from?"

John Madden didn't create Turkducken, but he certainly helped popularize this Louisiana Bayou favorite!

The Frankenstein combination of duck, chicken, and turkey gives you a taste of each with each bite.  From what I can tell, it was 22 years ago in 1997 when John Madden first mentioned this combination on air.  Thanks to nearly 20 years of being a NFL Thanksgiving tradition, turduckens are ordered and shipped around the world today.

So, how did this ever come to be?

A famous Louisiana chef named Paul Prudhomme claims to have invented turducken in the 1960's while working at a buffet in Wyoming.  He was carving meats in the buffet line and thought everything looked nice cooked and carved except the turkey, so he set out to create something better.  He eventually ended up with the three birds, each with its own dressing, smashed together and either roasted or fried to a crispy goodness.  When he moved back home to New Orleans in 1986, the chef copyrighted the name Turducken.

Another story claims creation rights to Turducken, however.  Glenn Mistich of Herbert's Specialty Meats remembered a farmer who once came into the store in 1985 asking for the three birds together.  When he opened the "Gourmet Butcher Block" in 1994 and created the concoction himself, he de-boned each of the birds, dressed each one, and sewed them together.

Mistich claims that before Madden popularized the turducken, he sold about 250 of them a year.

So how did John Madden come to be synonymous with the Thanksgiving favorite?  In 1997, longtime radio personality Bob Delgiorno got Madden to try some before he broadcast the Rams-Saints game at the Superdome.  Glenn Mistich would advertise the turducken around Thanksgiving on Delgiorno's radio station and brought some to the Superdome for the NFL Hall of Famer Madden to try.  He loved it so much he raved about it on air and a national phenomenon is born.  Two weeks later, Madden had chosen turducken to be the official “All-Madden Team” food.

Mistich estimates he sells between five and six thousand turduckens a year now... two of which are shipped to Madden himself for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It's such a popular item it's in the dictionary now.  As of the day this is posted in 2019, you can order a "All-Madden Turducken" for $139 (plus shipping) from The Gourmet Butcher Block.