People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has sent a letter to Caldwell, Idaho, Mayor Garret Nancolas requesting him to rename Chicken Dinner Road to the more vegan-palatable Chicken Road.
It’s a “kinder alternative, one that celebrates chickens as the sensitive and intelligent individuals they are, not ones to be abused and killed for dinner,” Faith Robinson, PETA senior strategist, told Capital Press.
The organization hoped to encourage the mayor to celebrate chickens and encourage citizens to help chickens “simply by leaving them off their plates,” she said.
Chickens feel pain and empathy and form strong bonds with one another, and they shouldn’t be considered “dinner,” PETA said in its letter to the mayor.
In addition to a graphic depiction of how chickens are raised and slaughtered, the letter also employed chicken puns to appeal to the mayor.
“We’re not trying to ruffle any feathers, but words matter and have power to change lives, both human and nonhuman, PETA wrote.
The letter also encouraged the mayor and residents to “cry fowl” over the sign and “hatch a plan” to change the name.
“We’re just trying to bring light to the issue. Chickens are fun and intelligent — they can count, add and subtract,” Robinson said.
With 9 billion chickens killed each year to eat in the U.S., it’s a serious issue, she said.
“No road should be named in honor of an act against another being,” she said.
Changing the name is a way “to honor these smart and self-aware animals,” she said.
The mayor did not return phone calls from Capital Press, but he told the Idaho Press the request was “ridiculous” and a waste of his time, adding that the county road isn’t even in the city’s jurisdiction.
Gregg Alger, owner of Huston Vineyards, which is on Chicken Dinner Road, said the request is “amazing to me,” given it’s a little road in the middle of farm country.
His first reaction was “Wow, there’re people that got a lot of time on their hands,” he said.
His winery uses the Chicken Dinner name on one of its lines of wine, tying the label to local history. The label tells the story of how the road got its name, he said.
According to local history reported by the Idaho Press-Tribune in the early 1980s, Morris and Laura Lamb lived on the road, then called Lane 12 in the 1930s. They were friends with Gov. C. Ben Ross and his wife, and Laura invited the Rosses to the Lamb home for a fried chicken dinner. She brought the poor condition of the road to the governor’s attention, and he promised to have it oiled if the county repaired it.
After it was repaired and oiled, vandals painted “Lamb’s Chicken Dinner Avenue” on the road, and the name stuck.
Alger’s vineyard is across the road from the old Lamb farmhouse. The road’s name is a reflection of history and what transpired rather than food, Alger said.
PETA has made similar requests to other towns, including: Slaughter Beach, Del.; the Tenderloin District of San Francisco; Slaughterville, Okla.; and Fishkill, N.Y.
Such names evoke violent imagery of how animals are killed and “abused,” PETA’s Robinson said.
While none of PETA’s requests have resulted in name changes, they have garnered support from local residents, she said.
“We’re really hoping people can understand the words we choose matter. … They influence how human and nonhumans are regarded and treated,” she said.