The Metropolis

The secret shame of London's fried chicken shops

Mike Pollitt | Thursday 29 September, 2011 09:38

A blog devoted entirely to South London fried chicken shops is here.

What does this valuable social document tell us about the customs of the age?

Firstly, that the gentrification of fried chicken shops is well under way. What else can explain the elegantly fonted, midnight blue awning of Southern Fried Chicken in New Cross? It promises to sell you southern fried chicken, of course, but also:

Burgers * Sandwiches * Pies * Cappucino * Coffee

Cappucino and coffee with your chicken burger? The times they are a-becoming quite different.

The second point of interest is the shops’ logos. Seven shops are currently documented on the blog, of which two have dispensed entirely with pictorial representation on their frontage. These shops, which include the heavily caffeinated Southern Fried Chicken discussed above, may be placed at the aspirational end of the fried chicken market. Imagery, it seems, is beneath them.

Of the remaining five, four choose to advertise their selling of butchered chicken by means of a cartoon representing a living chicken. London Kebab is alone in opting for a restrained, realistic, almost heraldic profile view of a full length chicken.

But the most popular motif is the happy headshot, an extreme close up of a heavily anthropomorphised chicken gurning out from the shopfront at his potential consumers.

This sinister imagery reaches its apex in the Mowley’s bird, a boldly drawn cockerel who at first glance appears to be as happy a brand ambassador as you could wish to see. But once you realise that he has been pressed into service to sell the corpses of his own kind, this illusion vanishes. What at first seem to be bright and welcoming eyes take on the aspect of terror. His smile becomes a rictus. And with good reason. For what does the intense colour of his bright red crown and wattle signify, if not the spilt blood of his slaughtered brothers and sisters?

Alas he can do nothing. He is condemed to watch his brethren being eaten in front of his smiling eyes. And yet smile on he must. For if he falters, perhaps he will be next for the chop. He is not smiling, after all. He is screaming.

[Via Transpontine]

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