The latest viral video, depicting what has been dubbed “zombie chicken,” was first posted on the Chinese social media site Weibo, before being posted to a Chinese Facebook group. It began to make its rounds on YouTube in the United States in in June 2019. Not much is known about the background of the clip, but many have speculated on what is actually happening. The video shows a piece of meat resting on a plate and then reaching out with what appears to be an arm or leg and wildly crawling onto the table. It then hits the floor with a thud as the camera pans away. A woman can be heard screaming in the background. What is so striking about the video is that the meat appears to be moving intentionally and not just flailing about in spasms.
Is the video real or just another expertly doctored clip? It depends on who you ask. Most experts agree that the meat is not likely to be chicken. Snopes.com reports that the meat is probably a freshly skinned frog leg. News reports in China, before the video made it to the States, also said the meat was frog. Assistant professor of poultry sciences at Auburn University, Dr. Amit Morey, says, “What they’re showing is too extreme. For a chicken to twitch, you have to immediately kill it and debone it and place it on the plate.” He also believes the meat to be frog. He said that frog muscles can contract and move around when salt is added.
Many speculate that the meat is sashimi, a dish made by the practice of ikizukuri. Ikizukuri is a traditional Japanese method of preparing seafood., such as fish, octopus, shrimp, lobster, and sometimes frog. In the practice of ikizukuri, the animal is prepared live, before being dipped in alcohols and sauces. It is then quickly killed immediately before being served. Diners generally expect the dish to move around, which indicates it has been properly and freshly prepared.
Others believe the video to be a fake, made by clever editing. The video seems to begin a bit too cleanly focused on only the meat. It also stops as soon as the meat hits the floor, which is a bit suspicious. The “zombie chicken” resembles a live animal making its escape, reaching out its arms and intentionally crawling, rather than the sloppy jerking of fresh meat encountering salt. Robert Lindeman, a senior video editor at USA Today said the video looks to be doctored. The movements of the meat are too mechanical. He also notes that it is quite convenient that the video pans to the left after the meat falls to the floor. “I would get up close with my camera if that things was moving,” he adds.
No matter what you believe the “zombie chicken” to be, it’s definitely the stuff of which nightmares are made. You’ll never look at meat quit the same.