Earlier this week a tweet went viral that showed a photo of a flyer stapled to a utility pole in Philadelphia. “The rest of the country will never understand the enduring spirit of Philadelphia,” read the caption of the tweet, which currently stands at over 100,000+ likes and 9,000+ retweets. So what did the flyer say that’s got everyone’s attention?
“COME WATCH ME EAT AN ENTIRE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN,” reads the flyer, which includes multiple photos of a man in different locations eating rotisserie chicken with gusto. “NOVEMBER 6TH WILL BE THE 40TH CONSECUTIVE DAY THAT I HAVE EATEN AN ENTIRE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN. 12 O’CLOCK NOON. THE CHICKEN WILL BE CONSUMED ON THAT ABANDONED PIER NEAR WALMART. THIS IS NOT A PARTY.”
Of course, the internet was intrigued, and sleuths quickly discovered the identity of the man in the photos. It turns out this person has documented his alleged adventures in rotisserie chickens on his own Twitter account for a while now, alongside many other posts about everyday foods.
Alexander Tominsky, 31, works as a server at Barclay Prime steakhouse, and local news outlet Billy Penn was able to track him down to ask him some questions about his purported chicken-eating habits. Guess who else had the chance to speak with Tominsky? The Takeout, of course.
With the alleged November 6 event fast approaching, we spoke in-depth about his goal of eating 40 consecutive rotisserie chickens, what’s motivating him to do so, and why his final chicken on an abandoned pier behind Walmart isn’t technically a celebration.
The Takeout: Was there any particular motivation behind putting up the flyer?
Alexander Tominsky: You know, there’s a no question that what I’m doing is really special, and I felt kind of selfish to keep it all to myself, so I figured might as well invite the city.
TO: So if you want to invite the city, how come you didn’t get more specific about which pier you are going to be at?
AT: Because if you’re from Philly, you’d know. It’s not too hard to find.
TO: I noticed you said on the flyer that this “is not a party.”
AT: Yeah, you know, have everyone come and silently observe the consumption.
TO: Why wouldn’t it be a party?
AT: I’m not trying to make this—it’s just me eating chicken, really.
TO: You must be tired of eating chicken.
AT: It’s really, really getting to be challenging, on both my mental health and my body.
TO: Are you eating other things? I saw in your Billy Penn interview that you’re eating raw veggies.
AT: Even veggies are hard to eat. It’s a strange feeling. Food, in general, has become unappetizing. But you know, it’s—pain is important. Because it reminds you what it feels like to feel good.
TO: Why did you pick 40 days as your milestone?
AT: I was going to go seven, then I hit seven, then I felt like 30 days would be good. And once I hit 30, it’s like everyone says: I’m going to do this for 30 days, I think 40 makes more sense. And I think that people agree.
TO: Where do you get all your chicken?
AT: It all depends. I’ve gone all around. It’s really inconsistent. Sometimes it’s extremely dry, sometimes it’s moist. I’ve gone to Acme, which is a grocery store in Philadelphia This place called Rittenhouse Market. I’ve been to Giant—they smoke their chickens, which is kind of nice. I’ve been to Shop-Rite. I’ve been to Walmart. So I’ve tried them all, pretty much. Oh, and Boston Market. I did that for day 15.
TO: Those Boston Market chickens are expensive.
AT: I wanted to treat myself, but it turned out it was so damn salty. But the customer service, I’ll tell you, it’s pretty good. Great hospitality.
TO: How much chicken is one rotisserie chicken per day?
AT: It’s hard to say. It’s definitely enough to make you not want to keep eating it. I’ve never really checked the weight; I feel like it’d psyche me out. Some are bigger than others—I don’t really even think about it, I just kind of pick one up. I’m actually going to get one from the Walmart next to the pier I’m feasting on, just to try it out and do some training.
TO: Walmart’s chickens are only okay. I may advise you to get one of your favorites as opposed to Walmart’s.
AT: Oh, no. I need to be absolutely in the trenches when this event happens.
TO: Previously, how often were you eating chicken? Did you make chicken at home?
AT: I don’t really like chicken that much, to be honest. I also like the mystery of a rotisserie chicken. I find them to be kind of a mysterious food. It’s very cheap, and there’s a mystique about it.
TO: I’m trying to understand what you mean by mystique. It’s a whole chicken. I feel like if you can see the whole body, it’s less mysterious than other forms you can buy. And you can see them cooking it on the rotisserie.
AT: I guess mystique is a personal thing. Perhaps I had some traumatizing event that involved a chicken and I’m trying to get over that. Who knows?
TO: How much of the chicken do you finish? It must be hard to eat every bit.
AT: I eat the tail. There’s fibers and whatnot in the spine that I have trouble getting to. And the wing part at the very tip, where it’s just like bones and dried skin, I tend to leave that alone. But I try to eat as much as I can. Oh, and I don’t eat the guts.
To be honest with you, I’m just so nervous about the event, I really am. I have the whole city behind me. I’m afraid the adrenaline will affect my consumption, but I’m going to give it everything I can. For the city and for the world.
TO: Was it just one flyer you posted inviting people to come watch?
AT: I put flyers all around. That’s pretty much it. Seems like people are pretty excited. I’d assume that there’d be thousands of people at this event. Luckily the pier is large enough, and I think the infrastructure is strong enough to accommodate a good amount of that.
TO: Will you be documenting the event as it happens?
AT: My main concern is eating the chicken. If other people want to record me, that’s up to them.
TO: What are you planning on eating the next day?
AT: I just thought about that. I might take a day off of food in general. My first meal, I’m thinking a nice ceviche or a crudo, something like fish, maybe sushi. Maybe caviar. Maybe I’ll just get filled to the seams with sturgeon eggs.
If I want to keep it true Philly, there’s a small resurgence of sturgeon in the Schuylkill River. Maybe I could dive deep, I might just find one and massage the eggs into my mouth. Really get a taste of what the city’s all about.
TO: That might be the purest taste of Philly anybody could get.
AT: Absolutely. Full of vitamins.
TO: Is there anything you would like the world to know about your chicken-eating prowess, or what you’ve learned along the way?
AT: It feels good to do the right thing. I will not be taking any sponsorships from Boston Market or Perdue. This is just for you.
TO: For the people?
AT: For the people.