Simon Whistler looks back at the origin of the phrase “Guess what chicken butt” in an episode of his always fascinating series Today I Found Out. Although the episode is mostly light-hearted discussion of the phrase, it does include some references to some rather grisly practices seen in the poultry industry towards the end.
Butt, in this sense didn’t mean the back end of the bird, but, rather, its shoulder. A long time ago, butchers would pack less desirable cuts, like shoulders, into barrels, either to store them or ship them. Barrels like these had been called butts since the late 14th century, after the Modern French word for a barrel or wineskin, botte and the Latin buttis (for cask). Over time, the term was applied to the cuts of meat within the barrels as well.