CALDWELL, Idaho — PETA ruffled some feathers in the Boise suburb of Caldwell, but residents of the Idaho town say they’re not changing the name of Chicken Dinner Road.
PETA told Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas in a letter that the road’s name should be changed to something that “celebrates chickens as individuals, not as beings to kill, chop up, and label as ‘dinner.’”
At first, he thought it was a joke, but very quickly, because PETA had sent out a news release, the phone started to ring.
“Emails started coming in, we started getting letters… texts on the phone,” he said. “It kind of blew up.”
The attention, he said, wasn’t all local.
“We even got comments from England. We’ve gotten comments from Kansas City, from California,” he said.
Changing the name of Chicken Dinner Road was never even a serious consideration, the mayor said, because it has historical and even business and tourism significance. To understand, you have to go back to the 1930s, when Chicken Dinner Road was just Lane 12, and a woman who lived there wanted to see it improved.
“Her name was Laura Lamb, and she was famous for her chicken dinner. Chicken dinner and mashed potatoes and gravy and pie and so forth,” Nancolas said. “So she invited the governor to her home and served him chicken dinner, and while she was there, she took the opportunity to say, ‘Look at this road. Is there anything you can do about it?'”
Between her chicken dinner and help from the governor and the county commissioners, the road was paved. Later, on Halloween, someone painted “Lamb’s Chicken Dinner Avenue” as a prank, but the name stuck.
At just over 17 miles long, Chicken Dinner Road, oddly enough, isn’t even part of Caldwell — something the mayor noted with irony.
“Technically, it is a Caldwell address, but it’s actually in the highway district’s jurisdiction,” Nancolas said. “So even if the city wanted to change the name, which we don’t, we wouldn’t, and we work very closely with the highway district, but technically it’s not even within our jurisdiction.”
Mayor Nancolas says the whole situation about potentially renaming the street has been a good thing for his city. It’s brought attention to the area’s wineries and other offerings. And in spite of all the attention, so far, he says, the people who’ve commented on the town’s Facebook page about the hoopla have been very much in support of keeping the road’s name just as it is. However, a few have had some ideas for alternatives.
“Instead of just Chicken Dinner Road, it’s ‘Chicken Dinner with Mashed Potatoes Is Even Better,’ or ‘Drumstick Drive,’ or ‘Baked Chicken Boulevard,'” he chuckled.
“This is why I love Idaho. This is why I love being in Caldwell. We are who we are,” he said. “And when somebody tried to tell the city what to do or how to think, the answer was a firm ‘no.'”
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