Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Breadsticks and the Chicken Wings

THIS IS THE PHOTO THAT STARTED IT ALL. A photo taken in a gas station in glamorous Baker, California.



The gas station really is a magical place. You’ve heard all about the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell? Well, this place is that and then some. It’s a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell and Wing Street and A&W and TCBY and Subway and gas station and convenience store. If you ask me, it’s just a Long John Silver’s away from perfection. And it’s all in the shadow of world’s largest thermometer.

That illustration occupied a spot above the Pizza Hut counter, right next to the entrance to the bathrooms. It had been there for years, and the wife and I would see it every time we went to Vegas. At 90 miles west of Vegas, Baker is the perfect first pit stop on the trip home.

I always assumed the picture was of two breadsticks who were (obviously) best friends, and for whatever reason they were walking away from three chicken wings. Maybe they had hit on the prettiest chicken wing and were shot down? Maybe only the breadstick on the left hit on the chicken wings and the breadstick on the right was his wing man (ironic!). Hell, maybe the middle “chicken wing” was actually a breaded and friend pickle. It definitely looks more like a pickle than any part of a chicken.

Whatever the case, no one at the gas station has ever offered an explanation. Which is why I asked friends and strangers via Facebook, Twitter and Flickr what they thought it might represent. The results were pretty fantastic. Everyone agreed that the three things on the right were chicken. But people were divided on the couple on the left. Were they breadsticks? Churros? French fries? More chicken?

Our friend Glark saw the pair on the right as “strippers” who had shed their chicken parts. “Those are normal chicken pieces and when they get the courage to let their hair down they strip and become chicken strips.”

Most people assumed the picture was one of tragedy. Like my wife’s explanation: “The french fry on the right just cried three giant brown tears because the French fry on the left has leukemia.” Which was surprisingly similar to our friend Tara’s interpretation: “One churro just found out he has cancer, and his friend is comforting him. Also soy ‘chicken fingers’ are there?”

My friend Jared saw the “two walking and talking bread sticks” as Detectives Deborah and Dexter Morgan. Behind them lay the bodies of “three buffalo winged amputees,” victims of “a heinous crime, believed to be committed by a former member of the Green Berets.” Sadly, Deborah and Dexter were too late.

My nephew explained it like this: "Hey! Let’s use these giant chicken wings as shoes!" one bread stick says to the other. "But we have four feet, and there are only three chickenshoes." "Damn."

My friend Kath didn’t elaborate on the possible story because she was thrown off by the decision to anthropomorphize the French fries, “but the chicken nuggets-- which actually were alive at some point-- are inanimate objects,” she said. “The painter knew that if the nuggets were portrayed as alive, it would rip through that veneer of denial that lets us eat meat and they'd never sell another nugget. A happy dancing fry, on the other hand, is an appetizing treat.”

Sadly, the sign doesn’t exist anymore. It has since been replaced with a Pizza Hut/Wing Stop sign. But the owners of the gas station have added two new illustrations. One of an obviously carnivorous bear and his best friend, a hot dog superhero.



I kind of feel sorry for that hot dog who seems oblivious to the fact that the bear is eating a hamburger and, therefore, his very life might be in danger.

The other picture is of a line of suicidal fruits rushing to sacrifice themselves to be part of a TCBY smoothie.



Look how enthusiastically the strawberry is diving into blender. And the banana is giving a wave, like “Look, ma! I’m gonna be in smoothies!”

2 comments:

Glark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glark said...

Wow, I've been there too. I wish I noticed that when I was there. Life INCOMPLETE.