Alexis Dent
Updated Dec 03, 2016 @ 10:29 am
Credit: AS Food studio/Shutterstock

Just when we thought 2016 couldn’t get any sadder, it did. Peng Chang-kuei, the Taiwanese chef creator of General Tso’s chicken died this week. General Tso’s chicken is a beloved dish in Chinese restaurants and Asian takeout joints across the country, so we are bummed to hear that the man behind it all passed away at the age of 98 in Tapei.

For those who may not know what General Tso’s chicken is (where have you been?), it’s “lightly battered pieces of dark chicken fried in a chili-accented sweet-and-sour sauce.” According to the British food scholar Fuchsia Dunlop, General Tso’s chicken is “the most famous Hunanese dish in the world.”

Although General Tso’s chicken is significantly more popular in the United States than in China (where it is a significantly newer food trend), there is no denying that Peng’s recipe has made it here, there, and everywhere across the globe. According to The New York Times, General Tso’s chicken was created in 1955 and it made it to the United States in the ’70s where it skyrocketed to popularity.

That popularity craze was mainly because of a cooking segment Peng did on ABC News showing how the dish was made just when Chinese restaurants were gaining in popularity across the country. From then on, Peng Chang-kuei had quite the career and ran restaurants that featured his famous creation with many different names, but General Tso’s chicken ended up being the name we all grew to love.

For decades now, we have enjoyed our favorite Chinese restaurant’s take on General Tso’s chicken alongside our fried rice and fortune cookies. Now, you can know a bit more about the history surrounding this incredibly popular Hunanese dish. Peng Chang-kuei is leaving an incredible legacy behind; may he rest in peace. Our condolences are with his family and loved ones during this hard time. We know his legacy will live on through General Tso’s chicken recipes throughout the United States and abroad.