Binghamton's City Chicken: An Ironic Favorite

BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -- Does Binghamton's City Chicken taste just like chicken? For most, the answer is no - they say it's much better.

"Put the seasoned meat on a bamboo skewer, and then you dip it in egg wash, dip it in breading, deep fry it, and bake it," said Sharkey's Owner, Marie Sharak.

The result: juicy, tasty, crunchy City Chicken. Some establishments even take it a step further.  

"We use barbecue sauces and marinades on the outside. None of them are calorie free, but they're all delicious," said Jo Anne Klenovic, Red & White Grocery Store owner.

Although it's in its name, City Chicken was not originally made with chicken. It was made with pork and veal.

"It was not chicken for many years until about 20-25 years ago, we started trying chicken because it was a bigger favorite with kids," added Klenovic.

Some restaurants are sticking with the original recipe.

"Because pork is a tastier meat than chicken," said Sharak.

For them, the name continues to deceive.

"People say you know, 'Is this chicken,' and no, it's not it's pork. 'Well, why is it called City Chicken?'" Sharak recalled.

"I think there was probably some twist on that because of the economics at the time. What was most economical to make City Chicken out of and it was sort of a poor man's version of what was too expensive to have at the time," said Klenovic

That's when Europeans first brought the recipe to the United States years ago, making City Chicken a tradition for many.

"My family is Slovak and it was a Christmas and an Easter specialty," said Klenovic.

"There's a high concentration of ethnicity in the area. There's still a lot of Polish, Slovak, German," said Klenovic. "They have some ties to that in their ancestry.

"And also at this point in time, it's just because it's good."

While many who grew up eating City Chicken are still unsure how it got its name, they said when it's this delicious, it doesn't matter.