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|The Big Chicken|
Location within Metro Atlanta
|Town or city||Marietta, Georgia|
|Construction started||1956, 1993|
|Completed||1963 (The Big Chicken structure)|
|Design and construction|
The Big Chicken is a KFC restaurant in Marietta, Georgia, which features a 56-foot-tall (17 m) steel-sided structure designed in the appearance of a chicken rising up from the top of the building. It is located at the city's biggest intersection of Cobb Parkway (U.S. 41/Georgia 3) and Roswell Road (Georgia 120) and is a well-known landmark in the area. Constructed in 1956, it was rebuilt following storm damage in 1993.
The restaurant was built in 1956 at 12 Cobb Parkway, on the newly constructed stretch of Highway 41, the first divided highway in Cobb County. Taking advantage of the prime location on the new and quicker route for travelers on U.S. 41, Johnny Reb's Chick, Chuck and Shake owner S. R. "Tubby" Davis erected the 56-foot (17-meter) tall structure over his restaurant in 1963 as a method of advertising. The novelty architecture was designed by Hubert Puckett, a Georgia Tech student of architecture, and fabricated by Atlantic Steel in nearby Atlanta (of which Marietta is a suburb). Davis later sold it to his brother, and it became a franchise of KFC.
In January 1993, storm winds damaged the structure, and rather than tear it down KFC was forced by public outcry to re-erect the building. Among those who complained about the Big Chicken being torn down were pilots, who actually used the building as a reference point when approaching Atlanta and Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The new Big Chicken even includes the original design of beak and eyes which move, although this time the vibrations which plagued the first structure (even to the point of breaking windows) have been eliminated. Pieces of the original structure were sold to collectors as souvenirs. In early April 2006, the structure narrowly escaped a small eastward-moving nighttime tornado, which overturned a tractor-trailer at a Kmart across the street, and damaged another building nearby.
The Big Chicken is commonly used as a landmark for driving directions. Locals will often include "make a [turn] at the Big Chicken", or "it's about x miles past the Big Chicken". This is referenced in music video game Rock Band 3's "Road Challenge Mode", when the player is told "Don't be alarmed if you're asking for directions in the bus and the locals tell you to "turn left at the Big Chicken".
It has also led to a small cottage industry of sorts, selling souvenirs emblazoned with the monument, including one sweatshirt showing Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, and of course, the Big Chicken in Marietta. A board game featuring the Big Chicken and other local landmarks was also produced. There was also a comedy group Big Chicken Chorus in the 1990s, which produced albums called Poultry In Motion and We Need a Little Christmas. The Big Chicken was also featured on a promotional card in Sim City: The Card Game. The Big Chicken has also appeared in the comic strip Zippy the Pinhead as a part of artist Bill Griffith's fascination with roadside icons, such as West Hollywood's "Tail o' the Pup", and the ubiquitous "Muffler Man" who was used to hold full-sized car mufflers, giant hot dogs, tires, or other items promoting various roadside businesses.
- Albert C. Smith and Kendra Schank, "A Grotesque Measure for Marietta", Journal of Urban Design, 13574809, Oct99, Vol. 4, Issue 3.