I discovered this expression:

You can't make chicken salad out of chicken something else

I heard this expression from one of the NBA basketball TV commentators on Fox Sports Oklahoma, who uses it in the affirmative, and uses something else instead shit. He uses it when a basketball player manages to score from a play situation that didn't look good at all:

The player made chicken salad out of chicken something else.

I would like to know what is the origin of the expression and where does it originate from. Any ideas?

  • Is this just a variant of "you can't polish a turd"?
    – Myridium
    Apr 7, 2018 at 5:13

2 Answers 2


An outline of the origins, uses and etymology of the phrase and its relation(s) can be found by Barry Popik. A summary:

The expressive flip side to “chicken salad” is “chicken feathers” (a euphemism for “chicken shit"). A difference “between chicken salad and chicken feathers” is cited in print in 1924; “like chicken salad compares with chicken feathers” is cited from 1930.


The first time I heard the saying was in 2007, when Casey Printers (quarterback) was cut from the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. "You want me to make chicken salad out of chicken-sh."

  • 2
    That is quite an interesting anecdote; however, the etymology goes much beyond that. Jul 8, 2019 at 23:19

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