This story is over 5 years old
Pretty Girl Bullshit

The ‘Engagement Chicken’ Myth

I followed Glamour's roast chicken recipe to try to trick my man into marriage.

by Bertie Brandes
22 June 2012, 8:00am

My poultry-loving man and I

Hello, I’m Bertie. This column is basically a place for me to call bullshit on girl related stuff that I think is dumb. While I appreciate the importance of girl talk, I’m not about to braid your pubic hair or send you the results of my latest smear test. Instead, I will pass on any remotely useful knowledge I happen to discover re: being a FEMALE. Trust me: I’m not a doctor, but I do have a Ph.D in pretty girl bullshit.


I’m no stranger to using food as a WMD, and trust me when I say I’ve make a LOT of "I’m sorry" cakes in my time. Pumping your significant other full of carbs and sugar when you’ve been naughty is almost too easy: food = fullness = them being trapped in your flat. A nice syrupy coercion into immediate forgiveness, if you will.

There is a difference though, between using a meal to ingratiate yourself with a spited luv-uh, and what I discovered on the Glamour website last week: a recipe for something called "engagement chicken". This chicken promises to “change your life” by magically provoking your boyfriend to propose. Engagement chicken? I mean seriously, could this be any more Hocus Pocus?

The main problem I have with engagement chicken, other than Jon Suder, who married some assistant from Glamour 26 years ago "because" of this recipe and asserts in the blurb that “it’s a meal your wife would make”, is that it’s just REGULAR CHICKEN. Roast chicken with lemon. I mean Jesus Christ, I’ve made this for my dad before. Do I need rigorous therapy? My friend’s parents made me this chicken every time I went for dinner, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t subtly attempting to introduce underage polygamy to our little patch of North-West London.

Anyway, according to Glamour, there are several important elements to this dish. The first is to leave the chicken to rest for ten minutes after roasting. The second is not to forget the “marry me juice!” (ie chicken fluid and lemon) from the pan. And the third (I assume) is to lull your man into a sense of coddled authority akin to that of patriarchal marriage conventions the world over.

But you know, maybe I shouldn’t call bullshit on this. Maybe a combination of the ingredients of this very basic recipe really can prove to your boyfriend you’re a worthwhile and dutiful woman, who hasn’t been ruined by soft liberal ethics and gender equality. The sorcery element is really the only thing this recipe has going for it, other than the comments section (which we'll arrive at in due course). I like the idea that Joan Collins, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Elizabeth Taylor held séances where they invoked the spirit of engagement and channelled it into a roast chicken. But honestly, I think they were way too busy being FAHBULOUS.

Obviously I had to try this engagement chicken just to make sure Glamour hadn’t somehow stumbled across some potent herbal potion. Weirdly, once I’d got to the supermarket and studied the recipe in a bit more detail, it emerged that the chicken is an entirely one-dish meal. Glamour doesn’t suggest any side or garnish, other than the possibly magical combination of rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley (which you should probably stew in the placenta of the chicken’s first born until adequately imbued with supernatural relationship energy).

Presenting your boyfriend with a single roast chicken on a table, even if it’s rigged up with its own cascading fountain of “marry me sauce”, looks stingy as fuck. Unless your hubbie to be is also a mild stoner and doesn’t care what he’s eating as long as it’s salty, I would suggest ignoring this Atkins imperative, and providing some kind of side dish.

I powered through though, not wanting to detract from the potench marriage proposal I was hoping to trick out of my boyfriend.

So I made this chicken, flipped it over with wooden spoons, let it rest for ten mins, the lot. And you know what, Glamour? It was really good. Unlike one commenter who said: “Thank goodness my boyfriend is not the kind of person to just say babe it was great!(lie) He was honest and said it was OK, it tasted like chicken. This was my first chicken to roast ever so it was really more fun to play with the chicken and make it dance in my sink” (?), my chicken was kind of a masterpiece, albeit a lonely one. And the "marry me quickly before I get to 30 sauce"? It was delicious.

We ate, watched a tactically chosen rom-com, I practiced my best surprised face, and waited. I noted a couple of doting stares but my marital radar wasn’t picking up anything unusual. Suddenly he leapt up and turned to me with a look of delight and excitement! Had he been possessed by the engagement spirit?! Was this chicken going to end all of my working girl troubles?

No. There was a tub of ice-cream in the freezer which we’d forgotten about, and which he subsequently consumed the entirety of. Short of embedding a wedding ring inside this chicken, making a G-string out of wish-bones and dancing on the grave of Henry VIII, this meal will not affect your destiny.

After fessing up to my BF, he said “I’m filled with love for you and for poultry.” Well that’s all well and good but where’s my CONTRACT, my diamonds and my presents?! He also said he “didn’t need any bits on the side”, which I suppose is useful, maybe we should re-name this "subtly encouraging monogamy chicken"? But anyway. Failure. I suppose I probably could have guessed that from the responses though, right?

1. “Ten months later on Valentine's Day 2012, he proposed!”

2. “I met my now husband and I was engaged 4 months after I made the engagement chicken.”

3. “I'll be looking for an update on Fertility Chicken, a recipe for those who now want to get pregnant, once the marriage proposal (and, hopefully even marriage) has taken place after eating Engagement Chicken :)”

Follow Bertie on Twitter: @BertieBrandes

Previously: Pretty Girl Bullshit - The Pill Myth

Get up to date with Pretty Girl Bullshit here.

how to trick your man into marriage
the way to a man's heart
put a ring on it
marriage proposal
engagement chicken
Jon Suder
marry me juice