The man who ate 40 chickens in 40 days because it ‘felt like the right thing to do’

After the 20th day, the uphill battle began for Alexander Tominsky, who became known as the Philadelphia Chicken Man. Finishing the food took longer, and he needed more water to swallow it

Alexander Tominsky, in a selfie taken in his home in Philadelphia.
Alexander Tominsky, in a selfie taken in his home in Philadelphia.Alexander Tominsky

The mission was completed in an abandoned pier in Philadelphia, under the expectant gaze of hundreds of followers who had gathered to bear witness to the feat. Alexander Tominsky had consumed 40 rotisserie chickens for 40 consecutive days. When asked why he had done it, all he could answer was: “It just felt like the right thing to do.”

“I’m not sure how it started,” explains Tominsky, 31, in a local Philadelphia publication. “It’s hard to understand how it manifested.” It all started on September 28. His plan, at first, was to eat a whole rotisserie chicken for seven days straight. He did it without any apparent motivation and without making it public or sharing it on social media. At that point, it was more of a personal challenge. On the day of the eleventh chicken (after the first seven, he had decided to keep going) he tweeted: “I would like to invite you all on a journey that I am on. I am eating a rotisserie chicken every day for 30 days. Today is day 11. I will keep you all updated as I get closer to my goal. Thank you.”

The following days, he arrived promptly to his appointment with the chicken. He picked medium-sized birds; too much for a single person, but not enough for a whole family. After trying several rotisseries, he finally chose Rittenhouse Market. Tominsky works at a popular steakhouse in Philadelphia, where he has lived for eight years. Later he explained that during this time he altered his routine to arrive at work half an hour earlier, so he would have time to scarf down the stipulated ration. He didn’t eat anything else all day.

The World Health Organization states that the ideal consumption of calories for an adult male is 1,600 to 2,000 a day; according to, a whole rotisserie chicken has 740 calories. Not surprisingly, Tominsky lost approximately 16 pounds during the whole chicken endeavor.

As the days went on, the photos he posted started to show the first signs of weariness and discontent on his face. He ate his chicken plain – no garnish, no sauce. By his side, a big bottle of Polar Seltzer Water to wash it down. In interviews, he explained how he refined the technique to gobble them up: first he ate the breast, which is the driest part, and when he lost momentum he mixed it with the fat in order to make it juicier. After the 20th day, the uphill battle began. Finishing the food took longer and longer, and he needed more water to swallow it. “Basically, I drank the chicken,” he told The New York Times.

The Philadelphia Chicken Man, as he was known by that point, celebrated his 30th chicken with number-shaped birthday candles. By then the challenge already had thousands of followers on Twitter, and he had become – without having done anything to achieve it – a kind of sex symbol. But he was not done. Tominsky decided that his journey would end for good with the 40th bird. He hung about 60 flyers around the city, which read: “Come watch me eat an entire rotisserie chicken. November 6th will be the 40th consecutive day that I’ve eaten an entire rotisserie chicken. 12 noon. The chicken will be consumed on that abandoned pier near Walmart.” Then, a clarification: “This is not a party.” Approximately 500 people went to the abandoned pier to see the big event for themselves.

Tominsky set up a table with a white tablecloth, on which he prepared his chicken – already cut into pieces – and his bottle of seltzer water. A red carpet held with broken bricks led up to it. The whole setup looked like a low-quality version of a Marina Abramović performance. It was a cloudy day and hundreds of people awaited his arrival with their signs and cellphones ready. “Eat that bird!” they chanted. And the Philadelphia Chicken Man, in a white tank top and jeans, ate it. He left nothing on the plate. After finishing the last bite, he stood up, looked towards the crowd and played Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia on a small speaker. With remains of white meat in his beard, Tominsky rose his plate up in the air and the crowd went wild.

The man who ate 40 rotisserie chickens in as many days – and who, according to VICE, went from 400 to more than 40,000 followers on Twitter in just a month and a half – has been compared to Forrest Gump, who, at some point during the eponymous movie, explains matter-of-factly: “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run [...] and that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason.”

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