Skip to Content

Why not 165 for drumsticks?

Chicken drumsticks are a popular and delicious part of the chicken that are commonly eaten around the world. Most drumsticks sold commercially weigh between 100-175 grams, with 165 grams being a very typical weight. However, some people may wonder why 165 grams seems to be the “standard” drumstick size and why other weights like 150 grams or 180 grams are less common. There are several factors that play into the prevalence of 165 gram drumsticks.

History of the 165 Gram Standard

The 165 gram weight for chicken drumsticks became popularized in the 1950s and 1960s as the poultry industry became more automated and standardized in the United States. Companies found that drumsticks weighing around 165 grams provided an optimal amount of edible meat while keeping production costs low. The typical broiler chicken was also bred and raised to produce drumsticks reliably in the 165 gram range. Over decades of consumer familiarity, 165 grams became an expected standard size and weight that consumers recognized and accepted. Trying to switch to different weights would disrupt consumer expectations and require changes to production.

Benefits of 165 Gram Drumsticks

There are a few key advantages to producing and selling chicken drumsticks at around 165 grams:

Ideal Meat to Bone Ratio

A 165 gram drumstick tends to have a good balance of edible meat compared to the bone. Drumsticks smaller than 150 grams may have too much bone relative to meat, whereas drumsticks over 180 grams have more meat but become unwieldy. The 165 gram size hits the sweet spot for an optimal meat-to-bone ratio.

Predictable Sizing

With decades of breeding, rearing, and processing standardized to 165 gram drumsticks, chicken producers can reliably hit this target weight. This allows for predictable production planning and inventory management. Deviating from this standard would disrupt established processes.

Familiar Customer Expectations

Customers have come to associate chicken drumsticks with the 165 gram weight, recognizing it as a typical drumstick portion size. Changing this expected norm could lead to customer confusion or dissatisfaction if sizes are altered.

Efficiency of Production

Raising broiler chickens and processing their meat is designed around efficiently generating 165 gram drumsticks along with complementary breast and wing sizes. Adjusting drumstick size would require raising different breeds of chicken and altering processing – leading to inefficiencies and higher costs.

Downsides of Other Drumstick Weights

While there are benefits to the standardized 165 gram weight, other drumstick sizes have drawbacks:

150 Gram Drumsticks

150 gram drumsticks may have slightly too much bone relative to meat. The smaller size may also lead customers to perceive them as lower value compared to the traditional 165 gram size they expect. However, 150 gram drumsticks require slightly less input and production costs for chicken producers.

180 Gram Drumsticks

180 gram drumsticks have more edible meat, but the larger size could make them clumsier for customers to handle and eat. Providing consistently 180 gram drumsticks would also require changing chicken breeds, feeds, and rearing conditions – driving up production costs. However, some customers perceive larger drumsticks as higher value.

Market Preferences by Region

While 165 grams is standard in the United States, drumstick sizes vary slightly in different regions based on customer preferences and poultry production norms:

Region Popular Drumstick Weight
United States 165 grams
Europe 150-180 grams
Asia 120-150 grams

In Europe, for example, drumsticks tend to range from 150-180 grams to suit different customers. Parts of Asia prefer smaller 120-150 gram drumsticks tailored to local taste preferences. Poultry producers in those regions have customized breed standards, feeds, and processes to meet regional size expectations.

The Future of Drumstick Sizes

The 165 gram weight has dominated the US chicken drumstick market for decades, but changes may emerge in the future:

Move to Smaller or Larger Sizes

Over time, consumer preferences and perceptions of value may shift to desiring smaller or larger drumstick sizes. Poultry producers could gradually accommodate different weight norms regionally.

Wider Range of Options

Rather than just 165 grams, grocers may offer more variety like 150, 165, and 180 gram drumstick options. This allows customers to choose their preferred size.

All-Natural and Organic Chickens

As all-natural and organic chickens become more popular, they may not reliably conform to 165 gram weights due to different breeds and feeding. Different weight norms could emerge.

Innovations in Production

New technologies and techniques like vertical farming, genetic improvements, or alternative feeds may make it easier to produce diverse drumstick weights more efficiently.

Key Factors in Drumstick Weight

Several factors ultimately determine the final weight and size of chicken drumsticks:

Chicken Breed

Broiler chickens are bred specifically to produce 165 gram drumsticks along with matched breast and wing sizes. Different breeds would be needed to alter drumstick weights.

Feed and Diet

Chickens are fed balanced diets optimized to support efficient growth to a 165 gram target weight in 6-8 weeks. Different feed formulations and quantities could adjust growth.

Rearing Conditions

Spacing, lighting, ventilation, and other rearing factors are tailored to bring broilers to harvest weight on schedule to produce 165 gram drumsticks. Other rearing conditions could alter weight.

Processing Timing

Broilers are harvested typically around 6-8 weeks when drumstick weight hits 165 grams. Earlier or later harvest timing would change weights.

Butchering and Portioning

After harvest, portioning methods trim and cut whole chickens to reliably produce 165 gram drumsticks along with matched chicken parts.


The prevalence of 165 gram chicken drumsticks arose from an optimal meat-to-bone ratio, predictable sizing, customer familiarity, and production efficiencies. While other drumstick weights are certainly possible, the 165 gram norm persists in the US due to decades of infrastructure, practices, and consumer expectations built around it. In the future, drumstick weights may diversify with shifting preferences, production innovations, and new poultry breeds tailored to different weight targets. But for now, the 165 gram chicken drumstick remains a beloved American tradition.