For Hillsdale students, one of the most welcome scents is the aroma of chicken tenders wafting through AJ’s Café at any given time. When it comes to breakfast, lunch, dinner, midday snacks, and midnight snacks, tenders are always the most ordered items on the menu, according to AJ’s employee Anna-Katherine Daley.
Despite the recent additions of healthy sandwiches and the overall abundance of menu items, chicken tenders are a fan favorite, in part because of the scarcity of availability outside of AJ’s. Many students have little or no Liberty Bucks to spend at AJ’s and eat in the dining hall for all their meals.
“I would say the chicken tenders are a delicacy we don’t often get from Bon Appétit in the lunchroom,” said Lyndsey Bice, who works for the Student Activities Board. “Chicken tenders are a classic snack that any college student wants to indulge in free of cost.”
Chicken in the form of nuggets, tenders, or popcorn is featured at all major SAB events such as Welcome Party, Garden Party, and President’s Ball. These events draw large crowds of students, many of whom claim to have been drawn in by the promise or chicken. Instagram posts following these events often feature students dressed to the nines with captions saying something like “Only came for the nugs.”
“After the multiple cups of nuggets that I consumed at Garden Party, my sole motivation for President’s Ball was the tenders,” freshman Emma Matheson said.
While they’re only served in the dining hall a few times each semester, students anxiously await their return each time they come in for a meal. Bon Appétit Management Company employee Liz Maynard says that members of the football team consistently ask if there are chicken tenders being served.
“Without fail, every day they will ask me,” Maynard said.
Others feel that with the new push for healthy menu items by Bon Appétit, chicken tenders are a nice break from the nutritious snacks.
“People at Hillsdale love chicken tenders because they are a common comfort food,” sophomore Gabriella Van Aken said.
The root of the chicken tender phenomena is unclear but it’s clear that just the thought of chicken tenders seems to have students feeling peckish.