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Matt’s fabulous KFC adventure

Filed in: health, personal, Sun, Dec 19 2004 22:53 PT

I’m 30 years old. I’ve done a lot of things in my life so far. However, until last night, ordering a meal from the counter at KFC (once known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, before Kentucky was deemed uncool) was not one of them.

There’s a really, really good reason for this gap in my gastronomical history: I’m allergic to chicken. All kinds of poultry, actually. Have been since birth. For some weird reason, eggs are okay, but one bite of chicken, as found in the occasional hot dog or soup base, triggers a very nasty chain of events that can best be described as a combination of hives and food poisoning. The sum total of items I can eat on a KFC menu: corn on the cob, biscuits, and mashed potatoes, hold the gravy.

To this day, despite getting years’ worth of medical attention on the subject, I have no clue what the hell causes that reaction. It’s rare enough that I’ve never met anyone who even knows anyone else who’s allergic to poultry. My most recent guess was chicken serum albumin, but eggs have albumin all over, and yet I live. The occasional person suggests trying this or that — free-range, organics, whatever — but I frame the situation thusly: if you find that hitting your hand with a hammer hurts you badly, and you’re unfortunate enough to have done it dozens of times in your life, would you be eager to try a different hammer? No thanks. I have made the decision to steer clear of my particular hammer as long as possible.

Which doesn’t explain why I was actually there. I wanted salmon and chips, so I planned a trip to the local Ivar’s. K asked for Thai food, but I was already making two stops on this particular trip, so a third, with a wait, was not in the cards. Lucky for her, a KFC was next door. So there I was, an allergic babe in the fowl woods, ordering strange chicken parts from a board I’ve never seen before. A kind young woman in a blue visor took my order.

“Can I help you?”

“I need something with two breasts.” Clearly I am not up on KFC double-entendre avoidance protocol. Taking it in stride, my helpful food service agent guided me through my first chicken purchase, coaching me on the nuances of original vs. extra crispy, and the value of the combo meal since I was already ordering mashed potatoes. I walked away proudly with my $7 worth of inedibles, grabbed my salmon, and ran home.

I’m not really sure what the reaction was inside the restaurant when I left, but I suspect there was a brief discussion about what planet I could possibly be from. In any case, the Internet is for sharing weird experiences with people you don’t even know, so here’s hoping your day is as strange as Saturday was for me.

24 responses to “Matt’s fabulous KFC adventure”

  1. K says:

    Mmm….the chicken was tasty. Thanks!

  2. I’m glad that I am able eat KFC. There’s something that’s just sooo tasty about chicken boiled in fat, but the whole process is so unmentionable that it’s now just referred to as ‘F’. I think it was the F that became uncool, not the K.

  3. chas redmond says:

    Wow! That was a strange day – I love the “something with two breasts” comment. Yeah – double entendre’s in a chicken place can be tricky. Me, no allergies but I prefer my chicken cooked by me – where I know what the dickens goes on with the recipe. This whole “secret KFC recipe” thing gives me the willies plus there’s all these urban legends about what people have had come out of their KFC basket. (You don’t want to know.)

  4. I work with a guy who shares your allergy. Last I heard it was looking like his young son had inherited it too. So that makes three of you at least, and all in Seattle. Love the story.

  5. I think your condition is called “oral allergy syndrome” and is described in the following two papers:

    There is also a small page about it at an English health agency.

  6. I think your condition is called “oral allergy syndrome” and is described in the following two papers:

    There is also a small page about it at an English health agency.

  7. Mark Ennis says:

    I too am allergic to chicken. I didn’t use to be. I ate it quite frequently when I was young (Am 35 now). I can’t remember exactly when the allergy started. It makes my throat close up. Shrimp used to do it, but I am able to eat shrimp now. I cannot, under any circumstances eat chicken from KFC. I feel like death would be more acceptable. I have however found a place that I can eat chicken. I am not trying to advertise for this place so I won’t mention it unless I get an email requesting the name, and it might be a while before I respond. I just wanted to let you know that someone shares your allergy. I was suprised to hear of anyone sharing mine.

  8. Brandon Vickers says:

    I am also allergic to chicken (and all other poultry). I have never known anyone with this allergy and no one I tell about the allergy has ever known anyone with it either, so I am amazed to see that there are several people who experience this. I have heard of the allergy being “cured” using acupuncture but I have no evidence of this. Anyone?

  9. Arthur Goerlitz says:

    Wow, finally someone else in this universe that has my allergy, and from the looks like it several people suffer from the same. I discovered my allergy at 4 years old. Its not a mental thing ” which is what everyone tries to tell me” I cant eat any poultry products except for eggs. No Turkey, Chicken, etc. So in my search I have been tricked by my mom, aunt’s, now my wife, sneaking some chicken part in my food. Which sends me to the bathroom throwing up. I get this strange itching sensation in my throat and thats when I know what I have just ingested. I found this to be quite weird as well, I used to cook at Chili’s on the flame grill, There I would handle raw chicken meat in my hands and breathe the fumes of cooked chicken in my lungs. Somedays I would have Red welps on my sensitive areas, ie ” where I have shaved my beard, “full of welps, look like water burns”. Also on my wrist band where my watch is I have red welps. I learned I cant even touch the stuff. So if anyone has any reccomendations please email me or share your story. THanks


  10. sam hayme says:

    I have a daughter(she is 12) who is allergic to broiler chickens.We discovered about it only 2 years back. Eyes got watery and swell.So definitely No KFC for her. However, she can take free range chickens. Nothing happened. We reckon it is the antibiotic that started it. You could try tasting the antibiotic free chicken…

  11. Jen says:

    I heard that they changed the name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC because they didn’t want to have the word “fried” in their name. But that’s not it. I heard that they changed their name because technically, it wasn’t really chicken, per se, that they were selling.

    Wanna test that theory?

    No, you’d better not. I read somewhere that in fact, the state of Kentucky is pretty nutty when it comes to using the word Kentucky on products that are not, well, from Kentucky. So there you have it.

  12. Matthew says:

    I also share this same allergy, and have never met anyone else with it. I suffered many, many times from it, mainly because my mother thought it was something mental and didn’t believe me, and was constantly trying to feed me chicken in some form ( telling me its veal, etc.). The first thing that happens is my toungue and inside of my mouth get itchy, then my lips start to feel like they are swelling a little. That is with just a few bites, if I eat alot I get the feeling like something is lodged in my throat and I can’t get it out, I start to salivate alot, sweat, and if I drink anything (even water) I vomit minutes later (only what I drink). The more severe reactions last for hours unless I can manage to vomit completly. This is with any poultry, chicken or turkey. When I was in middle school, one day they served sloppy joe’s (which I love), but what I didn’t know was that it was made with ground turkey and I piged out on it. Well about 15 minutes later I felt the reactions coming and tried to induce vomiting before it got to bad, but I couldn’t and I ended up having to deal with the symptoms for 6 hours, the worst I had ever experienced. As far as eggs, I only get the itching sensation in my mouth if I eat alot of them, maybe 5 or more.

  13. Luke says:

    Wow. I thought I was the only one with this allergy. Ever hear this? “well what do you eat on Thanksgiving?” My first job, at age 15, was working at a “Pudgies Chicken” on Long Island. My job was to fry chicken… go figure. Anyhow, the manager asked me to pull out wings, breasts and other parts from the freezer for cooking. When I told him i didnt know the parts he accused me of being retarded, then I accused him of being an inbred moron. I quit. Here’s to all of us who are allergic to poultry!!!

  14. carolyn says:

    I am glad to hear Chicken makes others ill.
    I get told it is in my head from many people .
    I have had them try & sneak it in on me too.
    I weigh 100 pounds 5’2” when I eat chicken I can vomit up to 2 days
    losing 5 lbs in a day .It is not funny.
    Cold to hot & back again clutching a trash can.
    I have many other food allergies since birth.
    Chicken is the only one with this kind of reaction.
    Sulfa drugs anaphalactic shock (speling?) was unpleasent too.

  15. scott says:

    How funny. . . I go to KFC for the mashed potatoes, too, even though I can’t eat the chicken.

  16. John Johnson says:

    Wow. I just got back from a restaurant where I had a chicken teriaki bowl. I am experienceing problems as im typing. I thought id do a web search to see if anyone else out there has similar issues. Now I know its not just me. I have been experiencing several problems when I eat chicken. I love my chicken enchiladas. however, when I eat them my throat closes up and it seems like my neck gets tight and starts to burn. Also it makes my throat itch to the point where I cough. Then if I wait about 30min it goes away. Weird. I’ve deemed myself allergic to chicken (no prob with eggs or other non poultry foods) since reading all of your posts. Glad im not alone.

  17. Amber says:

    Uuugh….having a reaction from chicken RIGHT NOW !! Suuucks!! Pain in my throat, under my ribs, upper back…….Paaain……damn it !! Hurts sooo bad. I always think I can “get away” with it…but the pain almost immediately sneaks up on my and the pain increases…..
    i have never heard of anyone else being allergic to chicken and turkey….my mom didn’t believe me…and woould force me to eat it…until one day I broke down sobbing…in pain.

    I still eat it cuz I LOVE it!! but sometimes it really isn’t worth it. I have a benadryl sitting here next to me….What an Idiot. Whhhhy do i have to be allergic to chicken?????????????????????????? all the menus are chicken. EVERYTHING’s chicken….. groan…groan…..sigh….pain…sharrrp pains running thru my body….ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddamn it.

  18. Scott says:

    Chicken, I bought a No Fear T-shirt and guess what it says?
    “Fear, taste’s like Chicken” how funny is that I had to have it. seriously though, the last chicken I ate on perpose was chicken mc nuggest when they were fairly new and i was twleve, I had a verry bad reaction that day.
    Since then salsbury steak on a quick work break sent me to the hospital,it was the gravy. This one is especially important, my allergies to poultry kept me out of the U.S. airforce, apparently I cannot have a flu shot or several other shots for that matter, they are grown in egg whites and all though eggs don’t ussually bother me I do test posotive for them on allergy test’s, so please be carefull
    and until now I have only heard of 2 other people who couldn’t eat chicken. The Dr.’s say that it is similar to anifalaxis, the allergies some have to shell fish. and last but not least I have noticed similar symptoms, while eating other meats and even when drinking certain types of bear, not enough to make me turn veggie or go thirsty thoug

    Scott, MA

  19. Dan Lloyd says:

    Hi Matt,
    Wow! What an experience. Growing up as kid I was constantly fed KFC.
    I am really curious since it has been a few years since your post.
    Have you “grown” out of your allergies to chicken?
    Do you see an allergist?
    And lastly what is your prognosis?

    Best wishes,

  20. Robert says:

    I am also allergic to most white meats (chicken and turkey, but not pork. I have no problems with eggs or salmon. I just tried to eat a can of tuna and no problems, up until 20 minutes after I finished it (which is right now). Years ago my doctor told me to take Benedryl, but that only delayed the affects. Tuna is having a very middle affect on me now, but if anyone knows of a natural remedy for this allergy (besides not eating them), I would be thrilled to hear it. I love eating chicken, but it literally almost kills me.

  21. jason says:


    I swear I was the only person in the world allergic to chicken!!! What made is so bad was my allergies developed really slow. As a child we had a farm and literally raised 10s of thousands of chickens so it was on our family menu everyday. At first the symptoms were chest pains which my mom always thought I was just telling a childish lie since I didn’t want to eat chicken. So I had to continue eating chicken, until one day when I was about 10-11 and I ate a chicken nugget (when they first came out as well) and bam… I went into severe shock, and the doctors at the ER said if I would have arrived a few minutes later I would have most likely died..
    After that it did happen a couple of more times within the month since no one could believe that I was allergic to chicken, but eventually they figured it out so since then I have been chicken free, except for the little bite here and there to see if it made my lips and tongue tingle.
    However, I was relocated to Taiwan about 5 years ago, and when I tested it hear, no signs what so ever. So now when I am in TAiwan I can enjoy chicken that has been raised in Taiwan, but when I go home if I try I get the symptoms again. Quite strange to say the least?

    Also, my life long dream of being a Marine was cut short as well due to my allergies. Oh well, guess it is ok, but be careful it can kill ya.


  22. JAY says:


  23. Andrew says:

    Wow, this is weird…I know this is an old post, but I too am “allergic” to poultry. Not always though, I used to love the stuff until I was like 8 or so I started to get like a pulsing pain in my chest for an hour after eating chicken or turkey. My mom thought I was being tricky too, and decided to feed me “ham” sandwich with extra turkey. She felt terrible though when I came up to her and said felt like I just ate chicken…. Its been wierd though, It has always just been the pain, but about a year ago, (I’m 25) I accidently ingested some fowl. That was the first time I experienced swelling, my mouth and tongue started to tingle and it seemed as if my tounge was actually swelling up, so I took like 3 benadryl and it went down. Is there a name for this affliction? ‘Cause I have never heard of an allergy taking SO LONG to develop…we should start a club, haha.

    PS Does it cheese anyone else off that more and more frozen pizza companies are putting chicken into their friggin’ Pepperoni and Sausage??? I can only have cheese pizzas anymore……..

  24. Dizi says:

    I also have a reaction from eating KFC- my lips tingle immediately and then swell. I try my best to avoid it entirely, but my husband loves to snack on it every now and then, and sometimes I sample it just to see if it will really happen again- and it always does!!!
    I couldn’t believe that it was just in my mind- but I’ve never heard of anyone else having that reaction- until now! Now I’m sure it’s not just in my head. (My lips are naturally huge- so sometimes it can be hard to tell for sure- but they always tingle and feel weird for hours after, even into the next day!)

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