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Maybe Tinder hasn’t worked out for me because I haven’t been eating fried chicken on any of my dates.

June 07, 2017

Having endured over a decade of rough first dates, I was thrilled to spot a recent article offering some fresh dating intel. A new survey conducted by Hinge asked 8,000 of their members to describe the first dates they’ve been on that resulted in second dates. According to the study, the most successful first date strategy is to suggest grabbing a drink (bonus points for Bloody Marys, apparently.) The most successful food-focused first date? Fried chicken. That’s right—one of the least elegant, most logistically difficult-to-eat foods is apparently the most romantic.

Perhaps eating fried chicken sends a seductive message to dates, like: “Hey, I’m a Cool Girl who is too chill to care about keepin’ my face or hands clean because I’m low-maintenance. Let’s watch a sport?” I figured it was worth a try, as a common link in all of my failed first dates is the lack of fried chicken. Maybe this was the answer all along!

A guy who asked me out last week proposed checking out a new sushi restaurant in SoHo. The day before the date, I texted him to see if he’d be down to switch to fried chicken—so the exact opposite of sushi. He was game. I was already pleased with the experiment, as it had revealed he was flexible and cool and not paleo (personal preference.)

We went to Sweet Chick in Brooklyn and ordered two plates of chicken and waffles—the classic and the Nashville hot. We went halfsies, splitting our dishes by plopping one drumstick and two waffle pieces on the other’s plate—this fostered a real sense of community. While first dates can often feel stuffy and cold, as you sit in dark cocktail bars where drinks are so expensive you have to focus all your energy on enjoying each high-concept droplet, this date felt low-pressure, fun and relaxed. I got the sense we would have had just as good a time at Popeye’s, and maybe that’s the secret—finding someone who is open to reimagining the first date as something more inclusive, and by “inclusive” here I mean fried-chicken-adjacent.

Per the study, I should have ordered a Bloody Mary, too, but I didn’t want things to go too well. That would have been overwhelming. We lingered over our chicken bones and waffle scraps, talking about our dogs and fighting over whether Arrested Development season four was good or not.

After our meal, we made plans to hang out again—the decision was unanimous. I’m nervous, though—what if we don’t get along when there’s not fried chicken on the table? I have a feeling we will, but just to be safe, I’ll slip a fried chicken wing in my bra before heading to our next date. Hopefully, that will bring good luck. At the very least, I’ll have a quick snack for when he gets up to go to the bathroom.

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