The Man Who Invented Chicken Salt Can’t Believe Young People Love It
Plain or chicken salt? Chicken salt. Always.
The man behind this beloved Aussie seasoning is Peter Brinkworth, an 81-year-old humble inventor who still can’t quite believe his homemade chicken salt from the early 70s is enjoyed by young people today.
“I get all this fan mail…about heroes and that sort of thing. And the best way I can explain it is that I’m an accidental hero. It just happened,” Peter Brinkworth told Junkee.
In Peter’s words, if you’re in the chicken industry and seasoning chickens all day, the simple fact is that “it just makes sense to mix something up that will do the job”.
“We opened a chicken shop in Gawler [South Australia] and it was a rotisserie chicken shop. And I sort of thought, well, I want to make my chickens better than the next bloke. And I made up a seasoning to put on them, which we called chicken salt.”
Peter’s family chicken shop started supplying frozen and fresh food to take-away foods and restaurants in the area. News of his tasty finger-lickin’ chicken salt spread like wildfire among locals.
“Some of them heard about it and we started making it up in kilo bags and selling it to cafes and takeaway foods and that sort of thing,” he said.
Peter and his family sold their wholesale business in 1979 to the food company Mitani, and with it his salt for cooked chickens. With the sale, Mitani went on to sell the first retail chicken salt — AKA Peters’ —which you can still buy in supermarkets today.
“I want to make my chickens better than the next bloke.”
To this day, Peter doesn’t think chicken salt on hot chips should be the main use of his beloved condiment. He reckons if people realised how good it tastes on roast chicken, they wouldn’t think twice.
Without giving away too much of the family secret, Peter’s original recipe has everything from salt, chicken stock, MSG, to garlic, herbs and spices. But apparently the OG chicken salt is more reddish in colour from paprika, than the semi-fluorescent yellow colour we know it as today.
When asked how often he eats his own invention, Peter’s answer is simple and proud. “Every day, not weekly, every day. Like I said, the only thing we don’t have it on is sweets,” he said.
“We have it on our eggs for breakfast. We have it on everything and it’s such a good seasoning. The best steak you’ll ever have is a chicken salt steak.”
Peter also makes homemade jams, and along with his chicken salt, and eggs, they either sell their goods or give it away in an honesty box at the back door.
Filmmakers Jacob Richardson and Thomas Van Kalken, decided to share Peter’s story in a short Australian documentary, called Salt of the Earth, which is airing at the Adelaide Film Festival on October 20.
When I tell Peter how special it is to know the story of who invented chicken salt, he replies humbly.
“It really surprises me that the young audience is going to be interested, I am very, very flattered, and I’m very happy.”