Guess What? Chicken Butt! It’s a Delicacy for Some People…

Do you eat the chicken butt? Do you even know what it is? You may be familiar with the children’s rhyme/joke that has been featured on popular TV shows like The Family Guy, Chris Rock’s Everybody Hates Chris, and even the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. But I’ll bet you never gave much thought to what part of the bird is actually being talked about, much less to whether it’s edible!

Guess what? Chicken butt is edible, and to some people it’s a real delicacy!

What is the Chicken Butt?

So what exactly is a chicken butt? There are actually two schools of thought about this. The first says that the word “butt” comes from the French word for barrel, “botte”. It’s not a specific part of the chicken, but rather a reference to the fact that butchers used to pack less desirable pieces of the chicken, like the shoulder, in a barrel. Eventually, the word for the barrel came to be used when speaking of these pieces of the chicken as well.

Other people use the expression “chicken butt” to mean the little heart-shaped flap at the back end of the chicken, where the tail feathers would be attached. The scientific name is “pygostyle,” a Greek word that refers to the bones at that tail end of a bird. Other popular names for this part of a bird include the “parson’s nose” or “pope’s nose,” presumably because clergy members were thought of as having their noses in the air the same way a chicken carries its tail feathers.

Chicken Butt Considered a Delicacy

The chicken butt was always discarded in my mother’s house, and I had never considered it a terribly edible piece of meat because of that. It’s tough and fatty, and I just never cared for either its texture or its taste. To my mind, there are far nicer pieces of meat on a chicken to choose from!

So I was surprised the first time I ate a roasted chicken with my husband, and he asked if I wanted to eat the “pope’s nose.” At first, I had no idea what part of the bird he was talking about. When he pointed it out, I couldn’t understand why he’s want to eat the chicken butt. He explained that he had been raised to think of it as a delicacy. And as there was only one on a chicken, it was something of a privilege to be served the pope’s nose.

It turns out that the chicken butt is also considered a delicacy in some parts of Africa, Asia, and Oceania. In fact, there is a taboo among the Abaluhya people of Kenya, whose women are forbidden from eating both the chicken butt and its gizzard. These choice cuts of chicken are reserved for the man of the house, and women who eat them can face severe penalties.

Do you think the chicken butt deserve such celebrity status? Do you eat the pygostyle of other birds, like turkey? What is the colloquial name your family uses when referring to this part of a chicken? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!


Guess what? Chicken butt is a delicacy for some people! This heart-shaped flap of muscle around the tail-end of a bird is also called the “pope’s nose.”

Chicken butt, officially the pygostyle, is also called the “pope’s nose” – and some folks think it’s delicious!
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  1. Profile photo of Andria Perry
    Andria Perry

    NOOOOO! It is to fatty.

    When I read the title I was thinking, I will not get Tony started saying chicken butt again, he forgot about it 🙂

    Sharing to face.

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I find the chicken butt too fatty, as well. And honestly, I don’t think it tastes like much. I prefer the taste of the dark meat.

      My hubby and kids like to say “chicken butt” too. Needless to say, I’m not telling them about this post!

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I hear that some great chefs like Heston Blumenthal advise removing the chicken butt before cooking. Apparently, it can make the chicken taste bitter. Funny, isn’t it? Such a tiny piece of fatty meat could affect the taste of the whole chicken!

    1. Profile photo of Sandy KS
      Sandy KS

      Sometimes I don’t like to eat much meat at a meal. The wings are small enough to satisfy my appetite.

    2. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I like the drumsticks. But I don’t like to fuss overly much with the bones. I think that’s a good part of why I don’t like chicken wings. Too much bone.

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I have chosen the breast meat for a long time, but I find that if the chicken is dry, I don’t much like it. The dark meat is always moist. I don’t know why I don’t choose it more often when I eat chicken.

  2. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
    Pat Z Anthony

    While this would not be something for me as we do not eat animal products, we do know many think this is wonderful. Of course, every part of the chicken is used in some cultures.

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I think it’s an ideal we can all strive for, whether vegan or omnivores: to use as much of every food product as we can – all of it, if possible 🙂

  3. Profile photo of Deb Jones
    Deb Jones

    I’ve been known to indulge in “chicken tail” now and then — usually when the chicken is grilled and that tiny piece of meat and fat has just the right crunch to the skin. I had no idea it was considered to be a delicacy in some cultures — that’s an interesting tidbit for the dinner table. : )

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      My Dad used to occasionally eat the chicken butt if it was very crispy. It’s funny, I hadn’t remembered that until you mentioned it just now!

  4. Pingback: Guess What? Chicken Butt! It’s a Delicacy for Some People… – Nutritions

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      That was the exact reason for using the phrase in the title. It’s very catchy! This post has gotten some good views, in part because of the rhyme being so popular. I even got a pingback to show the post has been indexed on a food & nutrition site 🙂

    2. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I sure hope it will, Brenda! Writing about popular subjects (believe it or not, chicken is one of them!) does help to draw in traffic and also potential members.

    1. Profile photo of Gil Camporazo
      Gil Camporazo

      That is true. To tell you, youngsters especially ladies are afraid to eat chicken butt for they are afraid of not getting a life partner in the future. You know Filipinos believe in superstitions and that is one of their supertitious beliefs .

      I remember my elder sister had told me about it and I was afraid too. The reason behind that belief is that nobody would befriend with you so you may have the opportunity to find one for your mate since chicken butt is found at the rear end of chicken’s body. So it is located “behind”, therefore, they are left behind too.

      But I think the reason for prohibiting the teenagers to consume chicken butt is attributable to one’s health. Chicken butt is too fatty and animal fat is a threat to one’s health. I think you know how delicious the chicken butt is.

    2. Profile photo of Gil Camporazo
      Gil Camporazo

      I find it confusing. What is the chicken butt that teenagers should not eat? So every time I eat chicken, I avoid eating that part.

    3. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Taboos and folk customs get diluted over time. As the elders die off and the parents of the younger generation forget the details of a custom, it can become confused and there can be conflicting reports about what is and is not allowed – or why a taboo exists and to whom it applies. No wonder we sometimes hear about a tradition and don’t really understand it! Your chicken butt taboo is a perfect example.

    4. Profile photo of Gil Camporazo
      Gil Camporazo

      I remember when I was studying in college our instructor has required as to write the effects of traditions to the lifestyle or standard of Filipino people. As I searched the references in the library and the first information I got from the persons I had interviewed, traditions don’t improve their standard of living. Celebrating a fiesta for examples, they had to borrow money to spend for the extravagant celebrations, and had to worry afterwards on how they could repay their debts. And the good effect of it is going together as a family to Church and applying what is learned from the Sunday classes attended especially in serving the Lord and the fellow beings. Most of our traditions don’t contribute much for the betterment of Filipino way of life.

    5. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      A lot of times that’s because there’s too much of a mix between old ways and new ones. In the earlier times, in most cultures, we looked after one another much better. And there were ways to do things like have a big celebration without going bankrupt….

    6. Profile photo of Gil Camporazo
      Gil Camporazo

      I am a Filipino but I don’t like those extravagant spending on parties, celebrations, festivals by my countrymen. Filipinos are noted for their hospitality. They won’t fail their visitors of giving them the best they could give even to the extent of getting much debt.

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