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Rotisserie chickens are hotter than ever

OK, we are going to say right off the bat: Rotisserie chickens are right up there with the invention of the wheel. Where would we be without them?

Around since the 1990s, they have become our go-to dinner option. We eat them straight up or turn them into other things, like chicken Caesar salad or chicken enchiladas. We're even going to admit to storing the carcasses in our freezer after we’ve removed all the meat. (The bones make the best chicken stock ever.) With summer here, they especially come in handy when we don’t want to turn our ovens on.

You can find birds just about anywhere, from Tops, Orchard Fresh and Wegmans to the Lexington Co-op to off-the-beaten path places, like Braymiller’s Market in Hamburg to Niagara County Produce’s Transit Road location. Prices can range from $4.99 to almost $8 depending on if you purchase a regular or all-natural or organic version.

The birds are so popular that last August, Whole Foods announced they were lowering prices on best-selling items, including rotisserie chickens. We talked to Helen Park, Culinary Coordinator for Whole Foods, which has taken the rotisserie chicken to new heights.

June 2 National Rotisserie Chicken Day | Buffalo Magazine

Whole Foods serves up a variety of recipe inspiration for their rotisserie chickens online, including these spring sandwiches. (Whole Foods Market)

“We carry both organic and conventional rotisserie chickens. All of our rotisserie chickens come from farms that receive third-party audits for animal welfare by Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Rating program, and are raised with no antibiotics ever.”

In addition to the classic version, Whole Foods mixes up its selections monthly, “Our stores feature a new, limited-edition flavor each month such as Chimichurri, Kansas City BBQ or Ethiopian Berbere Spice. The chickens are seasoned in-store with our own spice rubs, then slowly flame-roasted until tender and juicy,” she said. Whole Foods Global Culinary Team partnered with Allegro’s Spice to select on-trend, spice profiles.

“Interesting spice blends from their portfolio of organic and sustainably harvested spices are used for this program. Customers can follow Whole Foods Market on Instagram (@wholefoods), where we regularly announce limited-edition items all over the store,” said Park

Dash’s Markets also feature an interesting bird: a “three-legged” chicken.

“We offer all natural chickens with no growth hormones, no antibiotics and all veggie diet,” says Mark Mahoney, Director of Operations. “We sell our ‘three legged’ chicken, which is a 3-1/4 pound chicken. Most stores use 2-pound birds. We add an extra leg quarter to give our customers more value. We offer lemon pepper and barbecue in addition to the classic.”

Rotisserie chickens are big business for grocery stores, too. Mahoney notes among the four stores, Dash’s sells thousands of chickens per month.

At its Buffalo store, Whole Foods averages about 200 birds per week. Its website even offers great recipes that utilize its chicken.

No matter where you get your bird, one thing is for sure — they're never going away.

“Grocery shopping is a sensory experience in and of itself, and rotisserie chickens are no exception. The aroma or roasting chickens is easily recognizable in our prepared foods section, especially when the rotisserie is going. Rotisserie chickens are here to stay. They’re as popular as ever,” said Helen Park.

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