So who came up with the name Pluckers, a Warner Brother Character and other musings.
There are many versions of this story, but the one that I remember goes something like this. Mark and I were working on a name for our new restaurant concept sometime before the Silver Spurs Chili Cookoff during our senior year at the University of Texas. During the previous year’s Chili Cookoff, we had served thousands of pounds of wings and realized that we had a solid idea on our hands. This year we wanted everyone in the Greek system at UT to know the name of our soon to be open restaurant. The only problem was that we couldn’t think of a good name or a good slogan. We asked our friends, parents, teachers, classmates, etc. for their suggestions. I remember that I was pushing hard for Bubba’s Wings to be the name of our new venture. You see, I am from Georgia and I love a good bubba (definition: a good ole boy, usually from the southern United States who at the time loved anything to do with Billy Ray Cyrus, NASCAR, girls with big hair and would scream for “Freebird” at concerts even if Lynyrd Skynyrd wasn’t playing). I had grown up with Bubba’s most of my life and it just sounded like a good name to me. How can you not like a guy named Bubba?
I guess the answer to that question came from my mother who informed me that being a Bubba usually meant that you were a racist redneck as well. I figured that this was a slight oversight on my part, but I am not one for political correctness so I kept pushing for it. I can’t remember many other good names we had for our new restaurant until a girl I was dating came up with “Cluckers”. Hmmm….that made sense, we were a chicken restaurant, chickens liked to cluck and it sounded kind of catchy. The next step was to run the name Cluckers against all other trademarked names in the world. Unfortunately, it came back that there is a chicken chain out of New York called “Cluck U” and our attorneys said that it was going to be “deceptively similar” to Cluck U (that’s lawyer speak for “don’t even think about using that name because you will get sued”). By the way, Cluck U is still around and although I have never tried it, I hear they make some pretty good wings.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have any other solid alternative names for the restaurant. Mark and I, being less than brilliant UT advertising majors decided that there was only one thing that could be done to name our restaurant…we needed to drink! We surmised that in our drunken stupor, the name of our restaurant would magically come to us. Have you ever noticed that you can remember answers to trivia questions or people’s names you haven’t thought of in years when you are inebriated? So we put together our creative genius over either some Bud Ice or Icehouse, which one it was I can’t remember, but I do remember that the rage of “Ice” beers caused killer hangovers. If you don’t believe me, ask any kid who went to college in the early 90’s.
I think after a while of getting nowhere, one of us suggested just changing “Cluckers” to “Pluckers”. Aha….the light came on in our heads (or maybe it was the buzz from 6% alcohol beer) and we both agreed that was the answer. If you knew Mark and I in college, you would know that we usually took the easy way out when it came to things like this. We ran it by our attorneys and they told us that no one else had that trademark, so there it was….we had our name.
Now that we had a name, we needed a fun slogan and logo for our new wing joint. I was telling my dad about our new name and he suggested that we use his graphic designer to create our logo. Since we didn’t know any graphic designers and because at the time I thought my dad knew what the hell he was talking about, we paid some douchebag about $500 to come up with three different ideas for our logo. Essentially what this graphic designer (and I use that term very loosely) came up with was Foghorn Leghorn from the Bugs Bunny cartoon and superimposed him in a circle, a diamond and a square. Those were our three logo choices…Foghorn in a circle, a diamond and a square. I guess you get what you pay for.
So we called up my dad and asked him how we were going to be able to use Foghorn Leghorn in our logo since our attorneys warned us about getting sued for using the name “Cluckers”. He explained to me that as long as there was a 10% difference between our logo and Porky Pig’s buddy that we would be all right. We must have spent a week studying our logo against Foghorn trying to determine if it was 10% different. Eventually, we concluded that it could be argued that the beak and neck of our logo were 10% different than Foghorn. We also assumed that if Warner Brothers wanted to sue us, they weren’t going to win any money, so we threw caution to the wind. We put ole Foghorn in a diamond in case you never saw our original logo.
So we had our name, Foghorn as our logo and it was time for us to come up with a slogan. I remember that I was pushing for “Chicken is Chicken, but the Wing is the Thing”. Mark thought that was only average, but neither of us could think of anything better. So we went to our mothers for help. In case you haven’t ever met either of our mothers, you need to know three things about them. First, they are Jewish mothers. Second, they think that their creative genius is a very close second to the likes of Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Richard Pryor. And finally, even if they have little to no knowledge at all on a particular subject, they think they are always right.
However, this time I think going to my mom for help actually paid off. For twelve years my mom contradicts this story, but I swear it to be the truth. I was on the phone with her throwing around slogan ideas and told her we wanted people to remember our restaurant in the future. There was a restaurant in Destin, Florida called Fudpuckers that had a great slogan “You ain’t been Pucked, til’ you been Fudpucked”. I wanted something like that, catchy and irreverent. So we started playing on words that rhymed with Pluckers (you can come up with a few of them yourself) and finally I think she said “If you don’t like our chicken, we’ll shoot you a bird!” I liked that and after a few minutes I tried morphing it into “If you don’t like our wings, we’ll give you the bird!” Now she claims that she came up with the slogan we have been using for years, but that is not the way I remember it. Then again, my mom drank a lot less Bud Ice in college so its possible she is correct. I could be wrong, but if you reference the above three rules related to our mothers, you will see that I have a legitimate argument.
I ran the idea by Mark and some friends and everyone loved it. The first unveiling of the new name, slogan and logo officially went out at Chili Cookoff our senior year. I can’t even remember who designed the shirts, but to this day, they are the best shirts we have ever made. I think there are only about 3 of those shirts left in the world, so if you have one, keep it as it may be worth something one day. It was simple….Foghorn Leghorn shooting a bird and saying “If you don’t like our wings, we’ll give you the Bird!” I think we printed about 100 of these shirts and handed them out to every hot girl we knew on campus and some of our friends as well. Within minutes of the Chili Cookoff starting, the delicious smell of our wings and the harem of beautiful UT coeds had our booth hopping. Everyone wanted to know when the restaurant was opening. The only thing was, first we had to graduate…
To be continued…