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  • This is KFC popcorn chicken,

  • and this is everything that's in KFC popcorn chicken.

  • Welcome to "Fast Food Chemistry."

  • You probably know about the 11 herbs and spices,

  • but there are over 40 other ingredients

  • that go into making your popcorn chicken.

  • Seeing as I can't get ahold of American popcorn chicken,

  • we wanted to find out exactly what makes it so addictive

  • by making our own from scratch.

  • I of course am here to judge on how well Harry does.

  • It took some digging, but we did manage to find

  • an official KFC recipe for popcorn chicken,

  • and we're going to follow it to the letter.

  • Also, don't try this at home.

  • So, let's take a look at some of the chemicals

  • that are going into the chicken.

  • And when I say into the chicken, I mean into the chicken.

  • [crew laughing]

  • The first is carrageenan.

  • It's part of a mixture which we're actually

  • going to inject into the chicken itself.

  • It comes from this, seaweed.

  • You can buy it dehydrated,

  • as some people consider it a superfood.

  • However, if you leave it in water, it will turn into this.

  • So we're going to wet one on camera.

  • I mean, yeah, that's not surprising. It's seaweed, right?

  • I mean, it's supposed to be wet and kind of weed-like.

  • Still organic.

  • Oh, Harry, no!

  • It's crunchier than I was expecting.

  • And not in a good way.

  • This seaweed is incredibly useful for jelling and thickening

  • because it's so mucilaginous.

  • These properties mean it's used in everything, from sauces

  • to shoe polish to firefighting foam and even lube.

  • And we're going to put it in chicken.

  • While the seaweed itself

  • is often considered to be a health food,

  • the extract is supposedly less good for you.

  • Here are some studies looking

  • into the possible dangers of carrageenan.

  • It traditionally comes in two or three different types,

  • iota, kappa, and less commonly lambda.

  • Each of them have slightly different properties.

  • So, by mixing 1 gram of carrageenan

  • with 100 milliliters of water

  • and heating it to 70 degrees, you can form a jelly.

  • So here are the two types of jelly we've made

  • using the two types of carrageenan.

  • Uh, and then what, just slap 'em?

  • Slap 'em out?

  • [wet flopping]

  • I really hope you got the sound on that,

  • 'cause that was incredible.

  • The kappa one seems to be a lot sturdier

  • and also slightly cloudier in color,

  • whereas the iota one is the opposite.

  • It's a little clearer, and it's also extremely liquidy.

  • I feel like I've just delivered a baby.

  • Then we have sodium caseinate,

  • which is another texture-altering substance

  • and protein supplement.

  • It comes from milk curds

  • and is the thing that makes cheese stringy.

  • Before synthetic PVA took over,

  • casein glue was used for a lot of things.

  • It was even strong enough

  • to hold World War II fighter planes together.

  • We're going to try and use it

  • to stick these two pieces of wood together.

  • It's already pretty sticky.

  • That's well and truly stuck to the spoon.

  • I really can't, I don't think I've ever felt

  • anything like this, to be honest.

  • At what point does this go in the chicken?

  • I'm still not clear, and it's really like,

  • it's already pretty unsettling that we've made

  • some sort of, like, natural, incredibly powerful glue.

  • And we all know the real test

  • as to how sticky something is.

  • Harry, we use that wall for, like, three different shows!

  • What are you doing?

  • Harry: Some of that is not coming off.

  • And the chicken ingredients are as follows. [clears throat]

  • Chicken breast with rib meat.

  • Contains up to 25% of a solution of water,

  • seasoning, which is soy protein concentrate, salt,

  • modified food starch, food starch, carrageenan,

  • onion powder, dehydrated chicken broth,

  • and spice extractives and sodium phosphates.

  • That means that up to 25% of your chicken

  • is actually just water and seasonings.

  • If you go for the chicken strips, that can be up to 45%.

  • KFC doesn't specify exactly

  • how it gets the solution into its chicken.

  • However, we did find out how other companies do it,

  • and it's something which I think you all need to see.

  • This is the Schröder IMAX 350 meat injector,

  • which might be one of the most upsetting things

  • I've ever seen.

  • Hey, Harry, quit being a baby.

  • Nothing about that was unsettling, OK?

  • To make sure all our ingredients

  • are getting into the chicken in a similar way,

  • we're going to mix all of these together

  • and then inject it into the breast.

  • The first ingredient after water is soy protein concentrate.

  • This will improve the springiness,

  • the chewiness, and the cohesiveness.

  • Then we have a series of thickeners and flavorings,

  • that seaweed we talked about,

  • which helps the chicken absorb more water,

  • and some dehydrated chicken broth.

  • We want to make sure we're following

  • the ingredients exactly,

  • so what we're going to do is take some chicken,

  • make a broth, dehydrate it, rehydrate it,

  • and then put it back into the chicken.

  • Once again, we're not doing this in a kitchen.

  • We're doing it in an office for some strange reason.

  • The final ingredient is sodium phosphate,

  • or the bowel cleanser that we mentioned earlier.

  • Mbowel. How do you say bowel?

  • Bowel.

  • Mbowel.

  • In this case it's used to emulsify

  • this delicious jelly mixture,

  • which we're going to inject into our chicken.

  • OK, this is getting injected.

  • It looks like you've just taken chicken and blended it.

  • Shout-out to the IMAX 350. We're doing the best we can.

  • [syringe slurping liquid]

  • Oh, the noise.

  • [liquid squirts] [Harry laughing]

  • There you go.

  • It's hard to describe. It's not unpleasant.

  • I think it's just 'cause there's quite a lot of onion in it.

  • Come on, inject it. Let's go!

  • Oh, look at it. Can you see that?

  • The little bubble.

  • That is disgusting. Oh, my God.

  • What are we doing? [crew laughing]

  • Go on, there you go.

  • This looks so unholy.

  • Leon: You got all of that in there!

  • Harry: Empty.

  • [sighs] Good lord.

  • Hey, man, people inject meat with stuff

  • to make it taste better.

  • This is common sense, so none of this has surprised me.

  • I didn't think that footage was that upsetting at all.

  • Basically 2 fluid ounces of fluid.

  • I didn't think that chicken as a kind of solid material

  • would have the room in it to accept 2 ounces of fluid.

  • Obviously we've had some overflow here,

  • but a shocking amount of that has gone in.

  • Replacing with the water, buddy.

  • Come on, we went over this.

  • Out with the water, in with the flavored goo.

  • So, our injected chicken breast

  • has now been resting in the fridge for one hour

  • along with the other chicken breast,

  • which we left untouched.

  • And we just want to show you the size difference,

  • because it's pretty wild.

  • It's just massive. The size of it is huge.

  • It's gained quite a lot of volume thanks to the injections.

  • Wow, that's interesting.

  • It absorbed that stuff like a sponge.

  • It's, like, twice as big now.

  • I think I just found a hack for cooking at home, man.

  • I'm going to start injecting it with stuff.

  • And the breading ingredients are as follow.

  • Enriched wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron,