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Heymatt:

As a kid, I ate plenty of cans of chicken noodle soup and liked it. However, I could not help but notice the very few pieces, well, tiny pieces, okay, microscopic particles of what could have been chicken floating here and there among the noodles. My question is this: how many cans of soup did Campbell’s wring out of one chicken?

— Dan, Clairemont

So many! Most of the chicken-y flavor in Campbell’s soup is from the heavily salted chicken broth, so there’s no need for the company to include much meat in there, which you’ve already noticed as you quested about your soup bowl in search of microscopic chicken bits. It’s a pretty safe estimate to say there’s about one ounce of actual chicken in a ten-ounce can of soup. We’re talking the little can here, not a family-sized one. The average chicken weighs about three pounds when she’s all plucked and butchered, but only two pounds of that is meat. Even so, that’s thirty-two ounces of useable meat, which would fill up 32 cans of soup. Now, I’ve only ever noticed little flecks of white meat floating in my chicken soup. Dark meat, the kind that comes from legs and thighs, is conspicuously absent. That makes some degree of sense, since Americans overwhelmingly prefer white meat. This isn’t so in other parts of the world, but Campbell’s follows the American market closely. A chicken’s white meat is about 60–70 percent of its total meat, so you can factor that into the calculation to determine that Campbell’s would only get about 20 cans of soup out of the average chicken, providing they were using just the white meat. That’s still a lot.

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