Claim: Preparing ‘Engagement Chicken’ (a lemon and herb flavored roast chicken dish) will inspire your boyfriend to propose marriage to you.
Examples: [Collected via Facebook, April 2015]
Make him an Engagement Chicken and be engaged in 24 hours!
I told my friend to use this recipe — and she was engaged 2 weeks later. So maybe not 24 hrs, but it made me a believer.
Origins: In popular culture, the foot-tapping, marriage-minded girlfriend is a common trope,
representing (frustration with) the notion that a woman’s prospects of marriage are dependent upon her reluctant husband-to-be’s getting down on one knee and “popping the question” before any wedding can take place, and that women are afforded little input as to when (or whether) such a relationship transition will occur. In the absence of an
ability to meaningfully participate in the process, therefore, some women give heed to the idea that they could benefit from some deus ex machina-style intervention to hurry things along.
Proposal-inducing tips and tricks are not new, but in 2003 Glamour magazine added a novel twist to the genre by publishing a recipe known as “Engagement Chicken,” a dish to be prepared by impatient brides tired of waiting for their reluctant boyfriends to cough up a sparkly ring. The recipe is supposed to facilitate the traversal of a shorter path to the altar; and according to many of its adherents, a menu of Engagement Chicken is often soon followed by marriage.
The glossy magazine ran the recipe in their January 2004 issue (on newsstands in December 2003). At the time of its publication, the recipe got a signal boost from talk radio host Howard Stern, who spoke on-air of a dinner prepared for him by then-girlfriend Beth Ostrosky. As Stern described the meal, a female caller (and apparent Glamour reader) dropped a dime on Ostrosky and her proposal plot:
“He started talking about the lemons ‘up the chicken’s butt’ when a woman called in and said: ‘Howard, you just described Engagement Chicken. Beth wants you to marry her.'”
Stern immediately called his girlfriend, live on the air, and told her the jig was up. “I was busted,” admits Ostrosky, who had torn the title off the recipe page as a precaution, just in case Stern happened to see it lying around.
Still, her ruse worked. About three years later, on Feb. 14, 2007, her radio-personality beau (who famously vowed never to marry again) popped the question.
According to Glamour contributor Kimberly Bonnell,
before the Engagement Chicken recipe appeared in that magazine in late 2003, it had first been passed around in the magazine’s offices. As a result, three impatient girlfriends had finally been the recipients of marriage proposals:
It’s like this: 104 years ago, when I was an editor at Glamour magazine, I’d often overhear assistants worryingly discuss what to cook for the boyfriend-coming-over-for-dinner moment in their romances.
So this chicken popped into my head when assistants worried about their date-night menus, and I shared it with them, spelling out every teeny little step. Success! They’d report back the next morning about foolproof results and rave reviews.
And, it seemed, betrothals. Maybe not that very night but with unmistakably related-to-chicken timing. With an eerie predictability, women became engaged to the men for whom they prepared this chicken. Voila: engagement chicken.
A page on Glamour‘s web site dated 2006 has since been appended with many comments endorsing Engagement Chicken‘s power as a proposal precipitator:
The results are amazing! I made this for a guy almost four years ago. We had only just started dating but he told me that no one has ever cooked such a nice dinner that was just for him. That night he told me that he loved me, we moved in together six weeks later and we were engaged in under six months. Our one year wedding anniversary is a month away!
3 years ago I started to date this guy I really liked. He came to visit me for my birthday so I decided to make this recipe. This guy ended up being a jerk towards me that weekend at my house. I figured either this supposed recipe was full of crap or I just wasted the magic. I had a friend from a while back come over the next day and he stayed around for dinner, which I was eating the leftovers of the chicken. He and I just got married this past Nov. I guess it really is magical.
I made this in May and my boyfriend proposed in November…does that count?
Ummn definitely made this just because I thought it was a good recipe, had no alterior motives, 2 hours later he proposed!!!
Worked for me! I was engaged 17 weeks later. It could just be the magic of believing, but whatever it is, it’s tasty and worth a try
Sounds kind of crazy, and I was very skeptical… but IT WORKS! I made this and my boyfriend proposed 64 days later! I did modify it slightly.. in step 3, I placed lemons and some of the herbs (sage, thyme, and rosemary) inside the cavity of the chicken.
I just made the chicken he’s eating it tomorrow we have been together 4 years in January and we have 2 kids!!! I caught the bouquet in April from his lil brothers wedding so I hope that and this chicken helps speed it up!!!! Been patiently waiting for a long time now!!!!
In 2011, the magazine published a video about the Engagement Chicken legend to promote a then-new cookbook and claimed
According to the experiences quoted above, the Engagement Chicken rumor seemingly serves a useful function for those who set out to harness its magic: not so much inspiring a proposal as ameliorating the frustration many would-be brides feel as they wait for a ring to materialize and a wedding date to appear on the horizon. Much like a dentist’s shaking a patient’s cheek to conceal the sting of a Novocaine shot, Engagement Chicken offers a welcome distraction to fretful partners hoping to transmute a passive waiting experience into a proactive pursuit.
As evidenced by the “success stories” shared above, the desired payoff of Engagement Chicken has often followed only after the passage of months or years. The broad periods of time within which the recipe has “worked” indicates that something other than chicken was the likely cause, but such tales have proved powerful magic for those eagerly anticipating overdue proposals.
Last updated: 20 April 2015
Bonnell, Kimberly. “Did Virginia Woolf Like Chicken?” Huffington Post. 28 May 2008. Schuster, Dana. “The Recipe That Will Make Him Propose!” New York Post. 30 March 2011. “How to Make ‘Engagement Chicken'” Glamour. July 2006.