I did not plan on making a stop in Marietta, or taking any pictures, but there’s one attraction that simply demands the attention of everyone who drives by it. The locals know it simply as “The Big Chicken”.
This 56-foot-tall mechanical bird may not be finger-licking good, but the restaurant that it’s sitting on, its roost if you will, can provide all your fried foul needs. The building was not originally a Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC — back when it was built in 1956, it was known as Johnny Reb’s Chick, Chuck, and Shake. The owner had the big bird built to draw attention to the restaurant, and it worked. A few years later, he sold it to his brother, and the brother made it into a KFC franchise.
The restaurant is located at the corner of Roswell Street/Road and US 41, just a few blocks from Interstate 75 (you can see it from the freeway, if you look west, at just the right spot). Downtown Marietta is just 2 miles away, to the west on Roswell Street.
[tmt_info =””]The Big Chicken was noisy and prone to breakdowns when first built, and eventually the mechanism that made the eyes spin and the beak open and close stopped working. A severe storm in 1993 did a great deal of damage, and it appeared that the chicken was destined for that big coop in the sky. But, thanks to a groundswell of support for the town’s quirky landmark, the Big Chicken was preserved and restored — and even re-engineered a bit, so that it would work more smoothly. [/tmt_info]
You don’t have to order any Original Recipe to enjoy the big chicken. Just park in the KFC parking lot, and snap a few photos. I’m quite sure they’re used to it.
As I mentioned earlier, the bird’s beak opens and closes, and the eyes spin around, giving the giant sign a fun personality.
The Big Chicken was the last meaningful stop of the day for me. My traveling companion had come down with a nasty cold, and it just wasn’t worth the effort to try to find something else to do. So, I headed to my hotel near the ATL airport, and called it a day.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Canton to Woodstock, then on to Marietta. You’ll catch a good glimpse of the Big Chicken at 7:57.