Does Anyone Remember Engagement Chicken?

This recipe was everywhere during the 90s and early aughts. Then it seemingly vanished overnight.

Woman making a roast chicken recipe Nadezhda Moryak, SGAFotoStudio, deeAuvil | Canva

Could giving your partner a roasted chicken result in an engagement ring?

If you were a woman who read Glamour in the 90s and 2000s, then the answer you might give is a solid “maybe.” Engagement Chicken was one of those weird quirks of the last two decades that everyone seemed to forget about.

I was mulling over (read: cringing over) the way I yearned for a marriage back in the day. I was, in fact, one of the people who did the Engagement Chicken recipe in a bid for a ring.


Looking back, I don’t think that people fully acknowledged how bizarre this old magazine trend and urban legend really was. So, I guess I’ll revisit it today.

What the heck was Engagement Chicken?

For those of us who remember the 2000s and 90s, Engagement Chicken was kind of an urban legend recipe — not unlike the Neiman Marcus (or Nordstrom) $250 Chocolate Chip Cookie. (Remember that chain letter?)


The thing is, that legend was also popularized by women’s magazines of the era as a potential way to get the man to pop the question. I actually did some light research and discovered that the story stems from Glamour magazine back in the early 80s.

According to the legend surrounding the recipe, Glamour fashion editor Kim Bonnell went to Italy where she tasted the best roast chicken she ever had. She asked for the recipe and then shared it with a friend.

That friend got engaged shortly after.

She shared it with another friend. She got engaged, too.

Then another. Boom! Engagement.

From there, the recipe got passed around between women. The recipe allegedly became a fashion industry secret, but not for long. It became known as the Engagement Chicken recipe and it eventually got published in Glamour in 2003.


Eventually, other magazines would pick it up and publish the story — though most wouldn’t allude to it being a part of Glamour history. There seems to be a serious following of the recipe, and it’s now been modified and adapted by others.

RELATED: How To Make Engagement Chicken (And Get Him To Propose To You)

Does the Engagement Chicken recipe work?

I don’t really think it was the chicken that got people to propose to their partners. I mean, if you look at the OG recipe, it’s literally just a lemon-herb chicken recipe that could have been floating around for decades.

For what it’s worth, I tried this chicken recipe back in the day when I wanted an ex to propose. It didn’t work. He dumped me on the spot and I tearfully ate the chicken alone. It was good chicken, but nothing to write home about.


The truth is that if a man wants to propose, he’ll do it. You can’t really force it out of a guy. Trust me, I’ve tried to drag men to the altar before. It doesn’t work and it only messes you up emotionally. Don’t rely on delivering a dead, burned bird to get a ring.

Incidentally, there was a brief moment in the 2000s when men would warn one another about what being served the chicken meant. I’ve actually seen a former friend of mine panic when his then-girlfriend cooked Engagement Chicken for him.

My friend’s words: “What’s the matter, hun? You lost your appetite.”

RELATED: The Truth About Why Your Boyfriend Won't Propose

Why was Engagement Chicken such a big deal?

I want to say that the 2000s were the last decade where most women saw themselves as "failures" if they weren’t married by a certain age. The pressure to marry was real back then, far more than it is today.


Because of that, a large number of different pieces of advice floated around on magazine covers and online forums. If you look at old Cosmopolitan magazines, you’ll notice that advice was never about treating yourself well. It was about treating men well enough to deserve a ring and a wedding.

The narrative of a woman “being good enough” and putting up with enough crap to get a wedding ring was alive and well. In fact, it was the narrative that almost every women’s magazine pushed up until recently.

The entire narrative of making women “dance for a ring” was prevalent in magazines for decades — not to mention an ad driver.

It’s hard to explain to people how much pressure women were under when it came to getting validation from men back in the day. Every magazine was touting the importance of “having it all,” and being the girl that all the guys want.


RELATED: What Happened When I Ignored The "Rules" Of Getting A Guy

Billions and billions of dollars of makeup, perfume, and outfits were sold through magazines with the sole purpose of getting guys into you. How do I know? I used to read teen magazines and they’d tell me that "this lipgloss will get his attention.”

I can’t even describe how much of my teenage years were screwed up because I internalized all the focus on men that those magazines taught me. The marketing of marriage was real and it resulted in some really strange outcomes.


On one hand, 2000s women were told to be size 0-4 to be marriage-worthy and love-worthy. (I can attest to that as a model from that decade.) On the other hand, we somehow were supposed to cook sumptuous feasts for men so that maybe they wed us.

It’s insane to think that all those magazines capitalized on the insecurity of vulnerable teenage girls. It’s even crazier to think how much of those magazine messages primed people like me for abuse by convincing us we just had to try a little harder to make men like us.

The bottom line? Engagement Chicken was a symptom of a lot of double standards and cruel marketing toward women. So, maybe the old vanguard of magazines should chew on that for a while.

RELATED: The Pie Recipe That Can Get You Married. Seriously.


Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.