December 6, 2023

Food City

The Best Darn Food City Uou Can Get

Man who ate 40 rotisserie chickens in 40 days says it felt like ‘the right thing to do’

As It Happens6:19This man ate 40 rotisserie chickens in 40 days because it was ‘the right thing to do’

Alexander Tominsky doesn’t know why he decided to eat 40 rotisserie chickens in 40 days. He simply felt compelled by a force deep inside. 

“I keep saying this, but it’s the truth. It just felt like the right thing to do,” Tominsky — or as he’s known on the internet, Philadelphia Chicken Man — told As It Happens host Nil Köksal.

“It was something in my subconscious that was pushing me to the longevity of at least seven days, and then 30 days. And then at 30 days, I didn’t feel enough pain, so I took it to 40.”

He felt plenty of pain along his self-imposed journey. Now, he can barely stand to think of the birds. In fact, he said he’s completely lost his appetite for food altogether.

Tominsky’s intimate and graphic descriptions of rotisserie chicken — a seemingly ordinary grocery store staple — border on the obscene. 

“A rotisserie chicken, it’s almost like sensory overload. Like, the smell, the way it sounds when you pull it apart, the taste — like, everything, every bit about it is just very amplified when it comes to your senses,” he said. 

‘Eat that bird!’

But the final moments of his mission were downright euphoric. Tominsky polished off his 40th bird on Sunday in front of a group of ardent fans to the tune of Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia.

“My adrenaline was pumping. There was just so much serotonin dancing around inside my skull that the flavour wasn’t really even something that was in my consciousness at all — just the sound of people screaming with joy,” he said.

At first, he was surrounded by caution tape to keep the onlookers from getting too close. But then he found himself in need of “energy and support” to swallow down the “last portion of the fowl.”

So he cut the tape and let the people in.

A bearded man in blue jeans and white tank top holds a plate over his head, his face red and his mouth open, as dozens of people crowd around him, filming on their phones.
Tominsky holds up his plate in celebration after eating his 40th rotisserie chicken in 40 days on ‘that abandoned pier near Walmart’ in Philadelphia. (Alexander Tominsky/Twitter)

“Everyone surrounded me, and it was almost ritualistic. There was just swarms of people circling me and just heat was radiating off their bodies. There were seagulls flying in circles above. And then the most magical thing happened,” he said.

“A bee flew around the chicken, landed and took a little piece, and worked its butt off to fly away with a little morsel of the poultry. Everyone in the audience just started screaming.

“And that’s when I knew that this was something special. This isn’t just someone eating chicken.”

The people of Philadelphia, it appears, agree. Tominsky documented his project on Twitter, and attracted a massive following.

Dozens of people showed up to cheer him on as he ate his final bird in a location described on signs as “that abandoned pier near Walmart.”

According to the New York Times, the crowd shouted “Eat that bird! Eat that bird!”

Tominsky obliged.

He says he’s now working with local groups to use his newfound celebrity to encourage food donations for the city’s hungry. “[I’m] trying to take advantage of some of this attention to help the city I love so much,” he said.

‘Drinking’ chicken 

If a love of his hometown partly inspired this strange feat of strength, why not choose a more iconic food — like, for example, a Philly cheese steak?

“I don’t really care for cheese steaks,” he said. “I mean, I don’t care for chicken either, but it’s a little bit more accessible, right? It’s a little bit more affordable, and it’s just so simple.”

A man in a baseball cap sits at a table, looking forlornly at a rotisserie chicken on a plate.
Day 33 of 40: Tominsky looks forlornly at his meal. (Alexander Tominsky/Twitter)

If he didn’t care for the chickens before, he really doesn’t care for them now. 

“My body started to reject not just chicken, but just food in general. I think that might be from the sodium,” he said.

“So I actually had to — and this is going to sound ridiculous — basically drink the chicken. So I would have to, like, liquefy it in my mouth before I swallowed it. That way it would go down.”

Asked if he’d ever eat one again, he didn’t hesitate: “No. No, never. I’m pretty sure that I’m traumatized.”