We’ll give credit where credit is due — Kentucky has some cool claims to fame. It produced Jennifer Lawrence, Abe Lincoln, and the mint julep, after all. It has a [dubious] stake on the invention of the high five, and boasts the only city built within a meteor’s crater. But Kentucky’s most recent development? That matter is a bit more questionable. Offensive, even. And definitely bizarre. I'm talking about the gold-plated Kentucky Fried Chicken bone earrings produced in partnership between the state advocacy group Kentucky for Kentucky and Megan Carroll of Meg C Jewelry Gallery.
The 14-karat pieces were crafted in the Bluegrass State — yes, using actual KFC chicken bones selected from an eight-piece takeout dinner — before going on sale yesterday. There are only 15 pairs available, and each costs $200. Just in time for your holiday shopping! (Insert eye roll here.)
The most shocking bit? This is not Kentucky’s first foray into the poultry-accessory business. In June, Carroll produced necklaces using the same process — cleaning and drying the bones, sealing and varnishing them with graphite conductive paint, copper electro-forming them for up to four hours, then plating — and the response was apparently good enough(!) that she decided to expand. KFC isn't technically affiliated with the project, but color me curious: I'd love to know what it thinks about its chicken bones turned couture.
Listen, I’m all for turning trash into treasure. And I’m not against a funky accessory — I once bought a bracelet made of petrified scorpion from a street vendor in Bangkok. And I get that macabre jewelry serves a historically venerable purpose. During Victorian times, grieving members of a community might incorporate the hair of a deceased loved one into a pocket watch or bracelet to wear for comfort during times of mourning. And even today, horse hair and rodent bones (from already dead rodents) are being turned into beautiful, award-winning, and environmentally friendly pieces that become “actual relics of previous lives.” (Pearl-encrusted rat skull, anyone?) It’s all meant to be a show of respect, and a symbol that death is not a creepy and morbid bummer but rather, a part of the life cycle. I’m down with all of that.
So if this was the incentive behind the KFC jewelry, I might not be so skeeved by it. Except…it’s really hard to believe that Carroll — who is described on the Kentucky for Kentucky page as “crushing” instead of “eating” her KFC dinners — is trying to honor the legacy of birds who’ve spent their lives within the unfortunate reality of the factory farm industry. While its founding colonel might look like the friendly, grandfather-next-door type, KFC has come under fire not just for its artery-clogging product, but for its unethical practices, including drugging and terrorizing its chickens. But hey, who cares about that when you’ve got jewelry that’ll make you feel like a “Southern Belle Bam-Bam,” amirite?!
All sarcasm aside, if Carroll truly wants to be “socially conscious” as her gallery’s "about me" page suggests, here's hoping she finds something other than torture to immortalize.