Robert C. Baker was born December 29, 1921 in Lansing, New York.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1943 before majoring in Pomology at Cornell’s College of Agriculture.
Robert then earned his master’s degree at Penn State University and then his doctorate at Purdue University.
He then became a professor at Cornell University in 1957.
Robert Baker loved chicken and created innovative ways for people to eat and view chicken.
In fact Robert published his first chicken nugget recipe in the 1950’s as one of his unpatented academic papers while he was at Penn State.
His chicken nugget recipe never gained appreciation until he joined the faculty of Cornell, thus the name “Cornell Chicken.”
Robert then went on to publish some 290 research papers.
In 1970, he founded the university’s Institute of Food Science and Marketing.
McDonald’s (who made the chicken nugget famous) patented its recipe for Chicken McNuggets in 1979.
Robert went on to develop many other poultry related products. Accredited to him are more than 40 poultry, turkey and cold cut innovations, making him the “George Washington Carver of poultry”.
In addition to creating the chicken nugget, he is also responsible for a revolutionary way to bind breading to chicken, co-invented the machine responsible for deboning chicken and created the chicken and turkey hot dogs and turkey ham.
Due to these contributions to the poultry sciences, Robert Baker became a member of the American Poultry Hall of Fame.
Robert retired from Cornell in 1989.
He was also elected a fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists in 1997.
Robert died March 13, 2006.
Comedic singers Paul and Storm have a song titled “Nugget Man” on their album Gumbo Pants, which pays tribute to the late inventor and his most popular invention, the Chicken Nugget. The song humorously explores the career of Robert Baker, lists a few of his other inventions, details the formula for Chicken Nuggets, and the impact of this invention.
In the TV series The Wire, three of the street drug dealer characters discuss who may have invented the chicken nugget and what fortune it may have brought him, with D’Angelo Barksdale, the Crew Chief, pointing out that any such person would have been unlikely to have received any great reward but rather the heads of McDonald’s were more likely to have been the main beneficiaries.
Now WE know em