Every now and again I'll find a store that is so specialized that I'll wonder how it stays in business. Chicken Capital Gifts at 323 East Emma in Springdale is one of those places. Not to cast aspersions on the quality of the merchandise. Everything in the store is top notch, from the classic comedic rubber chickens to the professionally prepared taxidermy mounts pictured below.

I'm tempted to compare this place to Frog Fantasies at Eureka Springs, but Springdale doesn't exactly have the tourist traffic that Eureka Springs does. And the tone of this shop is less frivolous than that of Frog Fantasies. After all this is the poultry capital of the world. Remember how Ross Perot in his scathing intellectual tour-de-force at the presidential debates so cleverly referred to Bill Clinton as "chicken man?" Well, believe it or not, that reference came from somewhere.

In 1995 (the most recent available figures), Arkansas produced 1.1 billion broilers. That's about four whole cooked chickens for every American with teeth enough to eat cooked chickens. I don't know how that works out in McNuggets, but that's more broilers than any other state in the union, and most of those chickens came from (or at least through) this corner of the state.

In addition to ranking first in broiler production, Arkansas ranks third in turkey production, eighth in layer production, and fifth in the category of "all chickens." For reasons that I have not yet discovered, figures for broilers are kept separate from figures for all chickens, so in 1995 Arkansas produced 25+million chickens (including layers, pullets, roosters and the suspiciously enigmatic "other") in addition to the 1.1 billion broilers.

And when the wind is right, hooooooeeeeeee!

So this shop sells serious gifts to people who take their poultry seriously. But note that the proprietress of this shop is hedging her bets. Found among the chickenhead refrigerator magnets is evidence that she is diversifying her inventory. Either that or we have discovered one of those "other" chickens.


In the neighborhood: Dinosaur Sculpture for Sale

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