An animal-rights group is trying to raise a stink by proposing a chicken-manure statue of Col. Harland Sanders in Corbin, where the iconic developer of Kentucky Fried Chicken opened his first restaurant in the 1930s.
City leaders want to erect a bronze statue of Sanders as part of efforts to revitalize and promote downtown.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, first wants to put up a life-size Sanders statue made of chicken feces, a representative of the group said Monday.
PETA officials say KFC's suppliers engage in inhumane treatment of the hundreds of millions of chickens the company buys each year. The statue request is an attempt to bring attention to those claims.
"Before Colonel Sanders is memorialized in bronze as planned, PETA wants to remind Corbin residents that cruelty is the main ingredient in KFC's Original Recipe," Tracy Reiman, executive vice-president of PETA, said in an e-mail to Sharae Myers, manager of Corbin's Main Street program.
The e-mail said PETA wants a city permit a put up the foul statue as a piece of public art.
Not exactly a finger-lickin' good idea, as local leaders see it.
"Anyone in their right mind knows that a statue of chicken manure is silly," Myers said.
Myers said Sanders is a part of Corbin's history. Putting up a statue of him in an effort to preserve and promote that history has nothing to do with KFC's business practices, she said.
"This community is connected to him personally, prior to him becoming the face on the side of a bucket of chicken," Myers said.
Sanders, a native of Indiana, moved to Corbin in 1930 and opened a service station. The station included one small lunch table, but Sanders' fried chicken was so good the café grew to seat nearly 150 by the late 1930s, according to the Kentucky Encyclopedia.
It was in Corbin that Sanders developed the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the pressure-cooking technique that he later franchised, the encyclopedia said.
Today there are 20,000 KFC restaurants in the world, said company spokesman Rick Maynard.
Governors designated Sanders as a Kentucky Colonel, which is where he got the title.
The site of Sanders' café is a tourist draw in Corbin.
Local officials have set up a non-profit entity to raise money for the Sanders' statue. The goal is to create a welcome center with the statue to promote attractions such as nearby Cumberland Falls, Myers said.
There also are plans for a feasibility study on creating a musical based on Sanders' life, Myers said.
PETA has waged a campaign for years in an attempt to get KFC and its suppliers to change the treatment of chickens.
Birds destined for KFC's buckets "live mired in their own waste for six weeks before being thrown into crates and trucked through all weather extremes to the slaughterhouse. There, their legs are slammed into metal shackles, their throats are cut while they are still conscious, and many birds are scalded to death in defeathering tanks," Reiman said in her e-mail to Myers.
Workers at one KFC supplier in West Virginia were caught tearing birds apart, stomping on them, spitting tobacco juice in their eyes and spraying paint on their faces, according to PETA's Web site.
PETA called for an international boycott of KFC in 2003. The group has protested treatment of animals by suppliers of other restaurant companies as well.
Maynard, the KFC spokesman, said the company is "fully committed to the humane treatment of chickens."
"KFC operates its business in a legal and ethical manner, and attempts to disparage the brand are driven by PETA's goal of a vegetarian society," Maynard said.
KFC has comprehensive animal-welfare guidelines and an advisory council made up of respected experts on animal welfare, Maynard said.
PETA, however, said it filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in April 2009 alleging that the company's claims about promoting animal welfare amount to false advertising because the company doesn't protect chickens.
Maynard dismissed PETA's request to build a feces statue in Corbin as a ridiculous publicity stunt. The group has no intention of actually erecting such a statue, he said.
Not so, said Kristina Addington, vegan campaign coordinator for PETA. If the city approves the request, the group "absolutely" will build the smelly statue, she said.
"What's actually disgusting is Colonel Sanders' legacy," she said.
Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said city officials will evaluate PETA's request as they would any other but doubts it will be approved.
"That would be an environmental hazard," he said of a manure statue. "That stuff's terrible."