Chickens are the focus of Sunday dinners, jokes and even directions in the South. Directions to anything on U.S. 41 in Marietta, Georgia almost always includes a reference to the “Big Chicken,” that sits atop a KFC. I didn’t feel like I had truly lived until I ate a two-piece all white with mashed potatoes in its shadow.
An early childhood memory involves my parents cutting up chickens at my uncle’s house. Somehow, I didn’t make the connection between the flying feathers and what ended up on my plate a few days later and I happily enjoyed my dinner.
One of my first freelance assignments was doing an article for Tyson Foods in Heflin, Alabama in the 90s. I toured the plant with the manager and I watched the process from the time the chickens arrived clucking and with feathers until they left again sans feathers and not making any noise. I didn’t eat meat for a couple of months after that but the smell of fried chicken at a local eatery lured me back to the dark side. A side note about Heflin—chicken trucks were always wrecking there and I think I covered more of those as the paper’s editor than I did of county commissioners squabbling. It happened so often I ran out of headlines and resorted to “Chicken Dumpings” the last time our feathered friends ended up on U.S. 78.
I can’t seem to escape chickens. Once when I was covering a fire in Dalton, Ga., I visited a burned office. In the middle of the charred remains was a chicken. I think he was laughing at us because he was not cooked in the fire.
Cluckers Bessie and Gus used to grace the lawn of the Murray County Courthouse in the late 2000s. You can read my story on their chickennapping here but I don’t remember if they ever caught their abductors.
Eight years ago, I married the chicken-eating champion of the South. If you have not seen my husband clean a piece of chicken to the bone, invite us for a meal at Bojangles (it can be anywhere but I just love Cajun chicken). His deboning skills are a sight to see.
A few years ago I was researching RV parks for an article and I discovered Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost. I loved the name right off but I then learned the campground was in Chicken, Alaska. The town is about as remote as you can get but people love to visit for the amazing scenery. The camp’s owner sent me some pictures and one of them was of this beauty.
I felt obliged to send him a picture of our “Big Chicken” which is paltry (or should that be poultry) compared to this beauty. Mike Busby told me the chicken was named “Eggee” and it was created as a gift to Chicken Gold Camp by a high school shop teacher and his classes. “Eggee” is made out of recycled high school lockers and hauled 600 miles on a trailer from Homer, Alaska to Chicken. The delivery was made just before the Chickenstock MusicFest in 2009. Add a visit to the festival and Chicken, Alaska to my bucket list.
By the way, if you look closely at the arrows you will see other chicken towns like Leghorn, Italy or Featherville, Idaho. Looks like I have a lot of places to add to my bucket of chicken list