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PETA urges Caldwell mayor to change the name of Chicken Dinner Road

"Just like dogs, cats, and. human beings, chickens feel pain and fear and value their own lives," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman.

CALDWELL, Idaho — UPDATE: Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas posted a response to the PETA request on his personal Facebook page:

"When I first received the letter, I thought it was a joke, I literally laughed! When I realized the letter was for real, it made me extremely irritated that they would waste our time with such a ridiculous request!! If they had actually done their homework they would have realized that Chicken Dinner Road is not even within Caldwell’s jurisdiction...that being said, even if it was, NO WAY, NO CHANCE I would ever consider this truly unbelievable request!! We have many issues to consider, but this IS NOT one of them!"

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: An animal rights organization is urging Caldwell's mayor to change the name of Chicken Dinner Road.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Mayor Garret Nancolas on Wednesday requesting a kinder, simpler name "Chicken Road."

"Just like dogs, cats, and human beings, chickens feel pain and fear and value their own lives," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "PETA is asking Mayor Nancolas to change this road's name to one that celebrates chickens as individuals, not as beings to kill, chop up, and label as 'dinner.'"

According to local lore, the road was named "Chicken Dinner" after Idaho Gov. C. Ben Ross was persuaded by a local farmer's wife to have the road fixed after eating a fried chicken dinner.

MORE: I Wonder: What's the story behind Chicken Dinner Road?

The road name is very popular among the people who either live on the road itself or right off of it. 

"It's a cool road and cool name. Everyone knows the name," Bo Pickett said. "Cool history and it'd be a shame if someone wanted to change that."

He wasn't the only neighbor to share their thoughts on the name of the road.

"I just love Chicken Dinner Road, I think people would be silly to even attempt to change the name," Jamie Tracy said. "It's one of the most iconic roads in Idaho."

The road is iconic enough to Huston Winery owner Gregg Alger to incorporate the name into many of his products. When they walk into his tasting room, located off Chicken Dinner Road, they can find items that have the name on it ranging from hats, t-shirts, coasters, magnets and even wine.

"I do feel like there is so much history in the name and so much connection to our Canyon County farm grounds and our agricultural history that is here in the Huston area of Idaho," Alger said.

Alger also appreciates the history behind the name, and the tale that goes with it. So much so, he's put the story on the back of his 'Chicken Dinner' wine bottles.

"All of our bottles on the back of the label tell the story of how Mrs. Lamb was very effective in terms of lobbying our governor at the time, C. Ben Ross," he said. "In having her road oiled from the farmhouse which is across from our vineyard up to Highway 55."

Credit: Joey Prechtl
The story to how 'Chicken Dinner' road got its name is on the back of the wine bottles at Huston Winery.

The thought of a name change wasn't popular among locals that KTVB spoke with. 

"It was jaw-dropping actually because Chicken Dinner Road is famous for Chicken Dinner Road," Canyon County resident Todd Weber said. 

His wife shared that same sense of shock in PETA's request.

"It came up on my news feed and it caught me off guard," Paige Weber said. "I was like are you kidding me? Chicken Dinner Road is like a namesake around here."

Alger was amused by the request and wanted to send a message to PETA that while some of his wine has the name 'Chicken Dinner,' no chicken is actually in the wine.

"There has been no chickens harmed in the making of our white, red and our rosé," he said.

And one last thing about the name change, the mayor of Caldwell can't do it, since the road actually sits in the county.

A spokesperson for Canyon County told KTVB it was very unlikely the commissioners take up this name change.

Here is PETA's letter to the mayor:

Dear Mayor Nancolas,

I'm writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide—including many in Idaho—with an eggciting suggestion: Would you consider changing the name of Chicken Dinner Road to Chicken Road as a kinder alternative? Please allow me to elaborate.

We're not trying to ruffle any feathers, but words matter and have the power to change lives, both human and nonhuman. Chickens are intelligent, sensitive animals who feel pain and empathy and form strong bonds with one another, and they shouldn't be considered "dinner." Studies show that they can anticipate future events, communicate with their chicks while they're still inside the shell—so that babies recognize their mother's call when they hatch—and have distinct personalities. Even young chicks can count and perform basic addition and subtraction.

But those raised in the meat industry for dinner are confined to crowded, filthy sheds with tens of thousands of other birds, where disease, smothering, and heart attacks are common. Then they are violently crammed onto transport trucks for shipment to the slaughterhouse, where they're shackled and hung upside down, their throats are cut, and they're immersed in scalding-hot feather removal tanks—often while they're still conscious.

Eating chickens is also bad for human health. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vegans—whose numbers have increased 600% in the U.S. since 2014—reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 62%, their chance of being hospitalized for a heart attack by 33%, their risk of developing heart disease by 29%, and their risk of suffering from cancer by 18%. That's something worth squawking about!

By renaming this roadway, we believe you have a great opportunity to demonstrate a sign of the changing times, as more humans are showing compassion and respect for other species. We hope you will encourage residents to appreciate chickens as individuals who deserve our respect and cry fowl about this archaic road sign that labels them merely as "dinner." We'd be happy to contribute to the cost of new signage if you agree to hatch a plan and change the name. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

See the mayor's full response below:

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