Frank Perdue

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Frank Perdue
Tough man tender chicken.jpg
Franklin Parsons Perdue

May 9, 1920
DiedMarch 31, 2005 (aged 84)
Salisbury, Maryland
Other namesFrank
OccupationPresident and CEO of Perdue Farms.

Franklin Parsons Perdue (May 9, 1920 – March 31, 2005[1]), born in Salisbury, Maryland, was for many years the president and CEO of Perdue Farms, now one of the largest chicken-producing companies in the United States.


Frank was the only child of Arthur Perdue and Pearl Perdue (nee Parsons).[2]


Perdue Farms was founded in 1920 by Arthur Perdue[3] with his wife, Pearl Perdue who had been keeping a small flock of chickens.[4] Their son, Frank, joined the company in 1939 at age 19 after dropping out of college at Salisbury University.[5]

Now recognized as a visionary,[3] Frank Perdue's promotion of the Perdue brand through high-profile advertising resulted in its being the first well-known brand of chicken in the U.S.[6] He turned over leadership of Perdue Farms to his son, Jim Perdue, in 1991.

Perdue Farms developed a specialized chicken-feed that included marigold blossoms, which imparted a characteristic golden yellow hue to the skins of his chickens.[6][7][8][9]

In the 1980s, Perdue twice sought assistance from then-Mafia boss Paul Castellano to fend off a union's effort to represent workers at his company, according to a federal commission on labor corruption.[10]


In 1971, Perdue Farm embarked on its first major advertising campaign and had contracted the firm of Scali, McCabe, Sloves.[3] The firm came up with the idea of putting Perdue on television himself, with the tag line, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken."[3] This was fairly radical because at the time, CEOs were not usually public spokespersons for their firms.[3] The first commercial, shot in the city park in Salisbury,[11] was ranked by Advertising Age as one of the best campaigns of the year.[3] It was so successful that he went on to appear in over 200 of Perdue Farms' television commercials, although he was known for his shyness as well. Many of the commercials were known for Perdue actually encouraging people to voice any complaints or dissatisfaction with Perdue products, usually ending with Perdue stating "Say whatever you have to say; I can take it".[12]

Through this advertising, Perdue is credited with creating the first brand for chicken.[3]


According to Perdue company officials, Perdue died on March 31, 2005, after a brief illness. He was 84.[13]


In 1983, Perdue received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[14]

The Franklin P. Perdue School of Business was established at Salisbury University in 1986 and named for Frank Perdue.[15]

In 1991, Frank Perdue was honored with an Edison Achievement Award for his commitment to innovation throughout his career.


  1. ^ "Poultry Magnate Frank Perdue Dies at 84". WBOC-TV. Associated Press. April 1, 2005. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  2. ^ Biography, The Perdue Family. A&E Television Networks. 2005. pp. 5:10. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Schmetterer, Bob (2003). Leap: A Revolution in Creative Business Strategy. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 72–76. ISBN 978-0-471-22917-9.
  4. ^ "Business Timeline: 1920s". Perdue Farms. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  5. ^ "Business Timeline: 1930s". Perdue Farms. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  6. ^ a b Nocera, Joseph (December 25, 2005). "Chicken Hawker". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  7. ^ Pratt, Steven. "`TOUGH MAN` FRANK PERDUE MAY BE A HUCKSTER AND A HUSTLER, BUT". Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  8. ^ "These Fields of Gold Are Just Chicken Feed". Los Angeles Times. 2000-08-30. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  9. ^ Warner, Melanie (2005-04-02). "Frank Perdue, 84, Chicken Merchant, Dies (Published 2005)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  10. ^ Ronald J. Ostrow (January 26, 1986). "More Businesses Dealing With Mob, Panel Says". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ "Business Timeline: 1970s". Perdue Farms. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  12. ^ "Frank Perdue dead at 84". CNN/Money. 2005-04-01. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  13. ^ "Poultry Magnate Frank Perdue Dies at 84". Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  14. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  15. ^ Salisbury University Franklin P. Perdue School of Business

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