Chicken of Tomorrow
The Chicken of Tomorrow award marked the rise of a vast new industry and the metamorphosis of the backyard bird into a technological wonder akin to missiles, the transistor, and the thermonuclear weapon — which had been tested for the first time six weeks earlier.
The winning bird was chosen not for its exotic stature or pure breeding, but for its similarity to a wax model of the perfect carcass as devised by a team of poultry scientists. The grilled chicken in your sandwich or wrap comes from a descendant of the bird that Vantress created by crossing California Cornish males with New Hampshire females.
Until the early 1950s, most US flocks contained no more than 200 chickens, about the size advocated by ancient Roman agricultural writers 2,000 years earlier. In the wake of the Chicken of Tomorrow contest, farms raised tens of thousands of birds, some as many as 100,000. A hen that might live a dozen years on a farm could now be fattened and slaughtered in six brief weeks.