Let's just assume that the apex of the "tastes like chicken" joke was 1994. Let's more specifically assume that the recorded instance of said cultural summit was in The Lion King, where a svelte Nathan Lane informs teen heartthrob JTT and voice actor heartthrob Ernie Sabella that grubs, in fact, "taste like chicken." Let's just assume that, because I'll be honest with you, I've seen The Lion King a lot, like, enough that Hamlet seemed REAL boring by the time I went and got around to it. So for me it's like king benchmark, and I don't actually care about much before it, except The Little Mermaid. And I can't remember if Flounder tastes like chicken. (Oh my god, Flounder is just named after his fish-type? Why didn't they name Sebastian 'Crab'?)
After that there would have been a brief period — let's say six months, because that was before Twitter so it's not like we could wear those jokes out as fast as we can now you know? — a brief period during which it would have been perfectly acceptable to make a sly reference to the fact that Timon had captured a generation with his wry observation about grubs. So we'll say that by January 1995, the "tastes like chicken" joke was over. Done. Unfunny, or even to be charitable, funny only in the hands of a true comedic savant. Like Paula Poundstone in her CableACE days.
All that said, why, do you think, do screenwriters continue to recycle the joke like the oldest of the old pennies? Or in the case of Surf's Up, four (FOUR!) credited screenwriters, why do they recycle it twice in one movie? A movie that comes in under 90 minutes, even? Is it because this is a children's movie and children find the joke so unbelievably funny that you're really stabbing the next generation in the throat if you don't use it, like, you're actually undermining their very SAT scores by depriving them of this feel-good food-slander ha-ha?
I guess I could see why that might be true, but just to be scientific about it, I made a list of all the parts of Surf's Up that made a youthful Sunday matinee audience laugh in unbridled, unburdened glee.
- Burping (by any character)
- Comic violence (specifically, Stoner Icon Jon "Chicken Joe" Heder having his head crushed under a rock, Stoner Icon Jeff "Big Z" Daniels falling off a cliff, and Prettyboy Shia "Cody" LaBeouf getting hit by a branch)
- Key toilet-oriented words ("poop" x2, "butt")
- Simple insults ("I hate you.")
Nope. Not one chuckle, gurgle, or snorgle over the two "tastes like chicken" jokes contained therein. I hereby decree that all further instances of the joke in a children's movie shall be punishable by me ripping out James Woods' vocal cords, thereby depriving the entire animation industry of villains. That's right. No more James Woods, no more gravel-voiced, butchy, macho, evil-ass villains. Just try me, you savages.