Imagine it: you’re sitting around the table for family game night, and your father belts out “winner winner chicken dinner!”. Your other family members all groan and hand him their play-money, but you’re still stuck on that phrase.
What exactly does this phrase mean, and where did it come from? Let’s dive in and get some answers!
What Does “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” Mean?
“Winner winner chicken dinner” is a phrase which means that someone has won at something. Originally referring to monetary wins in gambling, the phrase is now used to celebrate any type of winning, whether there is money involved or not.
The phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” is a relatively common phrase in the United States.
The meaning is simply “you’re a winner” or “I’m a winner” depending on who the speaker is.
When celebrating any kind of win, one might celebrate with a cheer “winner winner chicken dinner!”.
The exact origins of the phrase are murky, but there are two similar theories that explain where it may have come from.
Where did the phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” come from?
“Winner winner chicken dinner” originated during the great depression of the late 1920’s in the United States.
The phrase came about as a cheer from a gambling dealer, insinuating that the winner can now afford a chicken dinner (about $1.79 in those times).
There is some discussion as to whether the phrase originated in Las Vegas casinos, or originated from street gambling during the same time period.
First, we’ll take a look at the theory that it was Las Vegas gambling casinos which invented the notorious phrase based on a popular dish on their dinner menus!
“Winner winner chicken dinner” originated in Las Vegas casinos
Most online sources point to the theory that this phrase has origins in Las Vegas, and was a phrase popularized by casinos of the 20th century.
In the late 1920’s, Las Vegas casinos thrived off of desperation from those seeking an instant fix to their poverty.
The great recession had begun with the market crash on October 9, 1929, and had left many Americans hungry and poor.
Within these casinos, there were cafeterias where gamblers could take a short break and have a drink and a meal (which encouraged them to stay longer- better for the casino owners).
In those days, a chicken dinner (an early American staple meal) consisting of 3 pieces of chicken, a potato, and a side of vegetables cost $1.79 in the Vegas casinos.
Within the casino in those times, the most common bet was $2. If a gambler won their bet, the dealer would announce loudly “winner winner chicken dinner!” meaning the gambler could now afford to buy themselves a chicken dinner at the casino cafeteria.
While this theory is the most wide-spread, there remains one other theory as to the origins of “winner winner chicken dinner”.
“Winner winner chicken dinner” originated from back-alley gamblers in the United States
With illegal gambling running rampant during the great depression of the late 1920’s, another theory states that this phrase became popular among gamblers in the dark alleys of America.
Back-alley gambling rings were a place where one could “easily” win enough money to afford a nice, hot chicken dinner.
The phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” came about as a victory cheer of a gambler who was looking forward to spending their earnings on a delicious meal, and the term then spread among other participants.
This theory was popularized by David Guzmanwho wrote the book A Guide to Craps Lingo from Snake Eyes to Muleteeth, which became a popular read among gambling aficionados.
Both of these theories have relatively similar backstories, and the phrase continues to have ties to gambling to this day.
Having gained knowledge of the history of the phrase, let’s take a look at how this phrase is still used today.
How to use “winner winner chicken dinner”
The phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” has enough notoriety to be recognized by most people, so it can be used in many contexts.
It is most often used while playing games of chance or skill, so the most prominent places it can be used are casinos, carnivals, or online games.
It can be said by either the dealer/game master as a congratulatory phrase, or by the player themselves as a happy cheer.
Examples of “winner winner chicken dinner”
[While playing blackjack in the casino]
“Ace! That’s 21- winner winner chicken dinner!”
[While at the carnival]
[While playing online slots]
Sometimes, the phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” is used in more ways than just a victory shout. English is a constantly evolving language, and people often get creative with new meanings for established words.
[While participating in a challenge]
Other uses of “winner winner chicken dinner”
Some people use the phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” as a phrase to mean “a win”, such as the example:
“What’s your best winner winner chicken dinner moment?” when asking to hear stories of people who have won big while gambling.
Another usage is to refer to someone who is lucky, such as a man who has a beautiful girlfriend who has just entered the bar.
“Whew, winner winner chicken dinner Charles. How did you get such a pretty girl with your ugly mug?”
In a restaurant, a charismatic waiter or waitress may use the phrase when someone orders a chicken dish as a humorous and catchy joke.
“Alright, who had the winner winner chicken dinner? One plate of Cajun chicken here!”
Here are some other fun facts about the phrase:
The phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” is actually trademarked by Raising Canes’s USA L.L.C.
Since 2013, the phrase “Winner! Winner! Chicken dinner!” has been a trademark owned by the fried chicken restaurant “Raising Cane’s” in the United States.
The restaurant chain founded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has used the phrase in many online and in-store giveaways since registering the trademark.
Despite the trademark, Raising Cane’s has never made a claim against any other entity using the phrase. You may commonly hear it in movies, TV, or even videogames.
If you’re a gamer, you may be aware of one other place where the phrase comes up a lot.
“Winner winner chicken dinner” is commonly used in the online game PUBG
The popular online game “PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS” (PUBG) re-popularized the phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” when it was added to the game as a celebratory phrase in 2017.
After a win during a game in BATTLEGROUNDS, the text “winner winner chicken dinner” is displayed to the winning player and their team.
“Winner winner chicken dinner” is also an achievement worth 55G on the Xbox version of the game, unlocked when the player obtains a chicken dinner in a solo match.
To obtain a chicken dinner, one must be alive and active when the solo session (usually 30 minutes) ends.
And that’s it. By now, you should be a master in knowing and using the phrase “Winner winner chicken dinner.”
By the way, have you noticed that there are so many expressions, phrases, metaphors and idioms in the English language that have something to do with animals? In today’s article, we dealt with “chicken” but here’s another good one for you: “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.”
Another fun one you should know is “Look what the cat dragged in.”
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.