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Mr. Chicken McNuggets is gone

(article, Culinate staff)

The man who built Arkansas-based Tyson Foods into a massive global meat producer and packager died last week at age 90. In a lengthy obituary, the New York Times depicted the life of Donald J. Tyson as a classic American capitalist success story, complete with glitzy billionaire perks, rapacious business practices, dubious political deals, and legal shenanigans. Oh, and Chicken McNuggets, which Tyson helped develop. 

Of course, Tyson Foods was also an Upton Sinclair nightmare: "Environmentalists accused Tyson of fouling waterways. Animal-rights groups said it raised chickens in cruel conditions. Regulators said it discriminated against women and blacks and cheated workers out of wages. . . . In 2001 the company and three managers were charged with conspiring for years to smuggle illegal immigrants from Mexico and South America to work in its plants, but all were acquitted."

Tyson Foods is still the most familiar chicken brand in U.S. supermarkets.