The Saucy Nugs Guy and The Treachery of Rhetoric

This became a minor meme boomlet for a few days last week:

Obviously, the first response, the intended response, is laughter. A political meeting is a ridiculous place to discuss what pub food is called. On top of that, you can pull/impose a “commentary on the absurdity of our politics” if you’re in the mood.

But as I’ve written before, irony does not translate to mass media, so the first thing that came to me, regardless of intent, is the fact that his argument is completely sound. “Boneless chicken wings” is an absurd nomenclature, dreamed up by marketing drones and refined in focus groups (who the hell willingly sits in a focus group? Where do they find these people? Do they pay them?). As a piece of corporate communication, seller-to-buyer, it’s effective: This will be like a chicken wing, but it won’t have a bone in it. It’s still nonsense. We could call it something else, and people would still eat them.

Rhetoric works best when founded in truth, so people ran with #saucynugs on Twitter. He’s become the Saucy Nugs Guy. He has gone viral over something ridiculous, and possibly initiated a minor cultural change. Was this his goal? It doesn’t matter. It has gone out into the world, and people have made it what they wanted. A joke becomes an idea.

So while the rhetorical devices SNG employs in his speech are both cliched and comically out of place, that actually makes it entertaining to listen to, selling the argument. I came away from this not only convinced but but determined never to use the term “bonless chicken wings” again. At the same time, a tossed-off line that was intended as humor has become his Official Cultural Designation, for no better reason than euphony.

This could take off. Not suddenly, but slowly, if the memeing of the term reaches an inflection point. It depends on wheter people are willing to actually say “Saucy Nugs” in public. They might at first, if only to display meme-awareness, and then out of simple habit. When the term appears in carryout menus, even ironically, then victory will be at hand.

Let’s make it happen. Of all the nomenclature-related disputes of our age, this one makes the most sense.