Originally built to draw customers into a business in its chicken body, Marietta, Georgia’s Big Chicken is now a beloved landmark that has been saved by the outcry of both air and road travelers.
Constructed over Johnny Reb’s Chick, Chuck, and Shake in 1963, the 56-foot chicken effigy was an attempt to capitalize on the newly built highway in the area. The chicken was made with moving eyes and beak which were so shoddily constructed that it would often break the restaurant’s window when the mechanism was activated. The restaurant was eventually turned into a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise which would end up being the angular poultry’s saving grace.
When the big bird was damaged by a 1993 storm, plans were put into motion to take down the landmark. However locals to whom terms such as “take a right at the Big Chicken,” and “just about a mile past the Big Chicken” had become commonplace would have none of it. In addition, pilots from a nearby air force base also complained because they were so used to using the restaurant icon to chart their course. With the immediate and strong uproar, KFC actually paid to have the Big Chicken restored including the eye and beak mechanism which no longer shatters glass.
The Big Chicken may remain to this day known more for its use as a directional reference than an eatery.
Know Before You Go
I-75 Exit 265, left at light onto Hwy 41, about 1/2 mile, Roswell Street.