*** A legend is reborn - Chicken Nugget Playing Cards ***
For most card collectors, using the word "Nugget" and "Playing Cards" in the same sentence will immediately get their attention. That's because Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards are one of the most iconic and valuable decks of cards you can get. First created for use at Jerry's Nugget Casino in the 1970s, these decks ended up being sold at the casino's gift store rather than used on the gaming tables. At the time, they were made from a top-of-the-line USPCC cardstock that is not available today and is thinner than most contemporary playing cards. They were also produced using a chemical finish that is no longer available, in part for environmental reasons, so the process used to make them can't be replicated with printing methods used today.
Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards are highly sought after and much loved by collectors and card flourishers alike due to their good handling qualities and increasing scarcity, and can fetch up to $500 for a deck on the secondary market. There are even online guides for how to spot illegal fakes created by sophisticated counterfeiters in 2008! Most people in the playing card and magic industry consider Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards to be the stuff of legend - a unique product with inimitable handling, and quite impossible to reproduce. In other words, one of those genuinely iconic products that is "often imitated but never duplicated".
But now meet magician Hanson Chien. Magicians specialize in the art of making the impossible possible, and Hanson set out to remake the Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards - but very much tongue in cheek. Hanson's deck is a deliberate parody and spoof of the original, that could even be considered an inside joke or prank. His aim was to breathe new life into the original deck, recreating it in painstaking detail, but with a twist - a humorous twist. Because at the same time he decided to poke fun at the fast food culture, and the modern habit of junk food consumption.
And so presto, like a rabbit out of the hat, there we have the hilarious Chicken Nuggets Playing Cards, first released in 2016!
To accomplish his vision, Hanson engaged the services of creative artist Limin. He used the colour specifications from the original deck as closely as possible, and had the decks printed by his own company, Hanson Chien Production Company (HCPC) in Taiwan, which is where industry leaders like Expert Playing Cards also get their decks printed. Hanson is very familiar with the legendary and expensive Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, and set to recreate the original by paying close attention to all its details as best as he could.
Here's our friend Hanson, dressed up for the occasion, in order to show off his entertaining deck.
So let's take a closer look at all the aspects of this memorable and entertaining deck of playing cards!
*** The Chicken Nugget Decks ***
The original crowdfunding project for the Chicken Nuggets deck consisted of two decks, red and blue, with colours that were carefully selected to be a precise match to the original Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards available in those colours. Hours were spent using different colour inks to recreate the original colours exactly.
More recently versions of the Chicken Nugget decks have been produced in other colours, but the main project consisted just of decks in these two colours - just like the original Jerry's Nuggets.
One of the idiosyncrasies of the original Jerry's Nugget decks was the crooked tax stamp. In the days when tax stamps were used instead of the seals on modern tuck boxes, the Jerry's Nugget decks were known to have a tax stamp that was slightly off center, and even this detail has been carefully reproduced. Paper of the same weight and texture of the old tax stamp was used, with a similar design and shape.
The original Jerry's Nugget decks also had the year 1970 printed on the inside flap of the tuck box, and this historic date is also what you'll find inside the Chicken Nugget tuck boxes if you pull them apart.
A close match to the originals also required duplicating the red security band or tear-strip, although in the case of the Chicken Nuggets, this also performs double duty in making it easy to open the shrink-wrap.
The `oil derrick' design of the original decks now reads `Chicken Nugget', but aside from this detail, the card backs look almost identical to the originals.
The original Jerry's Nugget decks had the word `M 4924' printed on every ace. To reflect the date when the Chicken Nuggets were produced, this has been changed to `M 2016'.
The court cards are my favourite part of this deck.
At first glance, they seem fairly normal. But when you look more closely at the artwork, you'll notice that these poke fun at the modern junk food habit, with the royal characters all engaged in devouring fast food like hamburgers, donuts, and ice creams.
Obese kings and queens are stuffing themselves with all manner of unhealthy things!
Not only does this add more fun and laughs, but Hanson also wants to convey a serious message: "So while you're performing amazing magic, don't forget to rub your bellies and remind yourself to quit junk food."
Will pictures of royal figures stuffing their face make your reconsider your fast food habits? Oh no, horror of horrors, they've even included chocolate!!!
Soft drinks, potato chips, ice cream, donuts, french fries, and hot dogs - all are targeted for punishment.
But surely noodles can't be that bad for you, can it?
The face cards for the number cards are the standard face cards familiar from the usual Bicycle deck.
The Joker looks very much like the original, but the elements of thematic parody shine through with the addition of the Chicken Nuggets marketing slogan: "Quit Junk Food. Make Life Good."
As an extra bonus, the Chicken Nuggets deck also comes with extra cards, which can be used as gaffs.
Double backer: The red deck has a double backer, but with a twist: the other side of the card incorporates a chicken nugget at the top and bottom of the artwork!
52-on-1 card: The 52-on-1 card is very familiar to magicians, and this is the card that is added in the blue deck.
Ad card: Both decks have an ad card which on one side says "This certifies this is an authentic deck of Chicken Nugget Playing Cards purchased from Hanson Chien. Designed by Limin & Eyes Kiki. 100% Authentic." Ad cards aren't always that useful, but this one is, because the reverse side has the Chicken Nuggets card back in a different colour from the rest of the deck, giving magicians the possibility of using it to perform effects like a colour change.
As mentioned already, Hanson Chien has his own publishing company, meaning that he doesn't need to resort to using a publisher like USPCC to print these cards. The Hanson Chien Production Company (HCPC) uses printing facilities in Taiwan, and this factory produces a cut (right) that is noticeably smoother and cleaner than a USPCC produced deck (left).
The other specifications for stock and finish are described by Hanson as follows: "These playing cards are made of German Koehler playing card board and coated with special finish."
In private correspondence, he confirmed that HCPC doesn't work with Expert or Legends Playing Card Company (which also use a factory in Taiwan), but that these playing cards were printed by his own company Hanson Chien Production Company. They developed their own stock and finish, as he says in his words: "We called it Artist paper stock, combined our magic finish."
*** Specialty Decks & Packaging ***
In combination with the standard Chicken Nugget decks produced with the original crowdfunding project, several specialty decks and packaging were also produced.
A red jumbo Chicken Nuggets deck had cards of an extra large size.
Four deck set
A set of four decks was available in an extra large box, sealed with an oversized tax stamp, and with the same artwork as the standard decks.
A special box was also designed for people purchasing a brick of decks. This consists of one dozen decks, and is styled after a typical fast-food box.
Alternate colours have also been produced, which will appeal to many collectors. In connection with the original Kickstarter, a limited edition Black version of the Chicken Nuggets deck was released, which had black card backs.
Since then, a limited edition White Chicken Nuggets deck has also been produced, the white-backed decks having an interesting look for cardistry.
This version features beautiful silver foil and embossing on a classy tuck box.
*** Other Items ***
Besides everything already mentioned, a number of novelty items were produced in conjunction with the Chicken Nuggets project, including an 8GB USB Flashdrive, a card-clip and even a toy chicken nugget!
And of course, there's a range of Chicken Nugget t-shirts, and hoodies!
*** Conclusions ***
Parody: Those who are familiar with the iconic Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards will especially appreciate the clever parody that this deck is. It is an excellent spoof, which is a wonderful tribute to a classic and famous deck.
Detail: In parodying the original, great attention has been paid to to the detail in all elements of the design. The exact specifications of the original have been faithfully copied wherever possible, including the style and design of the tuck box, the colours used, and even small details like the date inside the tuck box flap and the style and position of the tax stamp styled seal. It's beautifully done all round!
Funny artwork: I love a good laugh, and these decks are certainly amusing in their own right, even if you're not familiar with the original Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards. The court cards in particular are quite hilarious and well-drawn, and reflect a good sense of humor. They're fun to look at closely, to appreciate the amusing images of all the court figures stuffing themselves with unhealthy fast food. The artwork has been very well done, and is an entertaining and welcome addition to this deck.
Serious message: I also love the fact that the cards have a serious message, warning us about the dangers of eating too much fast food and junk food - a message that today's culture needs to hear.
Quality: One interesting thing about these cards is that they aren't produced by a big name or well-known publisher like USPCC or EPCC/LPCC. Yet they are printed by a factory in Taiwan, and decks sourced from here are typically of high quality, this being no exception, in terms of card stock and finish. I haven't had opportunity to check out in person more decks produced by the Hanson Chien Production Company, but if they are as good quality as this one, I look forward to trying other Hanson Chien decks, to see how they compare.
Handling: So do these cards really handle like the original Jerry's Nuggets playing cards? I'm not qualified to answer that, because given how rare and expensive they are, I've never had opportunity to handle a deck of genuine Jerry's Nuggets. But I did get an experienced card flourisher to play with the Chicken Nuggets deck, and he found that it handled somewhat like the Master/Diamond finish from EPCC/LPCC, although HCPC uses their own stock/finish. They have a very smooth cut, so the edges of the deck are not rough but nice and smooth, which makes them great to handle in the fingers. The stock of the deck is quite a hard and snappy stock, so because of this it does require some wearing in, but it is also very long lasting, and you won't easily over-bend a card by accident. The snappiness creates a pleasant audible noise when springing the cards, as it snaps back to its original position immediately. The finish is a standard type embossing, with little dimples in the cards, and the cards spread and handle well out of the box, but after some use they don’t spread and fan quite as easily. However, these cards packet amazingly, and work great for any cuts and any other packeting. In all, it’s a very durable and well-usable deck, definitely worth using.
The beautiful thing about a deck like this is that it serves multiple usages, and will have appeal for several different reasons:
Collecting: It's a beautiful tribute to the original Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, so any collector familiar with the legendary status of those decks will find it immediately appealing to have a similar deck in their collection - especially since the price tag of the originals makes them out of the reach for most of us! The element of parody is a clever double edged sword, because in addition to being a tribute to a classic collectors deck, it also pokes fun at the fast food industry, and the court cards especially are entertaining to study and look at.
Gaming: The deck is also a very practical one, that is very usable for playing games with. The number cards are standard, the backs are simple and clear, and the court cards are fun without being so customized that they are no longer recognizable. The connection with classical design of court cards is very obvious, so the customization won't at all be a barrier to using these cards for games, while at the same time providing a fun conversation piece to have some laughs over.
Magic: I like the fact that extra cards have been included; magicians will appreciate the ability to provide a number of special effects using these gaffs. The ad card with a different colour back can be used to perform a colour change and similar effects, while the fun double backer can also be used in many ways. As a result, magicians will get even more mileage out of a deck like this.
Cardistry: Finally, in the hands of a cardist, this deck has a lot of visual appeal. Because the face cards are fairly standard looking to the eyes of an onlooker, all the visual emphasis will be on the card backs. These are very bold and clear, with one main dominant colour, and the artwork creates a strong and slender vertical shape with a strong contrast. This simple design also is one factor underlying the success of the Fontaine Playing Cards, which are very popular in the world of cardistry; in the hands of a skilled cardist, the Chicken Nugget Playing Cards have a similar look when in action.
The Hanson Chien Production Company
Hanson Chien isn't just a one-trick pony, because besides producing this deck, he also has many other accomplishments and interests, including setting up his own playing card company, the Hanson Chien Production Company (HCPC).
The company: In addition to the Chicken Nugget Playing Cards, the Hanson Chien Production Company has also produced other decks of playing cards, mostly geared towards the world of cardistry. Examples include the beautiful Red Stripe deck by magician Omar Renfro, the artistic Pearl, the minimalist Frostbite, and the bright Odyssey deck. More decks from HCPC are in the pipeline.
The man: Hanson is clearly a man of many talents. Not only has he set up the Hanson Chien Production Company, but he's also well known in the world of magic and cardistry as a skilled magician and card flourisher. He was one of the select attendees at this year's international Cardistry Con along with big names like Dan and Dave Buck, whom he considers as friends. He is particularly respected in his home country of Taiwan, where his creativity in magic is highly regarded. He is also creator of the DVD Touch, which features impromptu effects with a rubber band. He's active on various social media sites, where he makes regular contributions with photos and videos.
Where to get them: So where can you get hold of your own copy of Chicken Nugget Playing Cards? You can purchase them from the official Chicken Nuggets Facebook page here, or at an online retailer specializing in playing cards, like Rare Playing Cards.
So is a deck of Chicken Nugget Playing Cards for you? This deck of playing cards will appeal especially to people who are already familiar with the iconic status of the Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, and who will have some immediate appreciation for the way in which this parody replicates the original. But anyone with a sense of humor can appreciate the amusing court cards and the fast-food spoof that is key to what this deck is about, so it will have a broad appeal to card collectors and gamers as well.
Knowing something about the original Jerry's Nuggets only will enhance one's appreciation for this deck, but even apart from that, the Chicken Nuggets deck is amusing and entertaining, handles well, and is more than suitable for playing card games, or enjoying as a custom deck of cards.
Want to learn more?
Hanson Chien Production Company:
- HCPC official website: www.hanson-chien.com
- HCPC on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hansonchienproduction/
- Chicken Nugget Playing Cards: www.facebook.com/ChickenNuggetCards
Hanson Chien on social media:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hanson-Chien
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hansonchien529
- Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/hanson9898