Americans love chicken. Each and every one of us consumes nearly 100 pounds of it annually, but when that bird meat is sliced into the svelte sticks known as tenders, we seem to collectively lose all rational thought. We might walk straight into McDonald’s for them, without first pausing to put a brown paper bag over our head. Or we might — oh, I don’t know — swipe a few cases of previously frozen tenders that had been thawing for a day on an open road after they were catapulted from a crashed tractor-trailer.

The latter scene took place over the weekend on Route 35, a lonesome stretch that cuts through Cherokee County on the eastern edge of Alabama, not far from the Georgia border. An 18-wheeler crashed and spilled a load of prepackaged chicken products on the side of the road. This two-lane ribbon of asphalt soon turned into a roadside buffet.

“There were some people trying to get the chicken,” Josh Summerford, chief deputy for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, told The Washington Post. “They pulled off to the side. That was not a safe scenario.”

Enough motorists, in fact, were taking advantage of the accidental drive-through that the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency had to issue a warning.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT| The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office is asking that no one try to stop to get the chicken...

Posted by Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency - Alabama on Sunday, January 6, 2019

“You’re creating a traffic hazard!” the agency declared. “It’s a crime to impede the flow of traffic.”

And by the way, county officials added, those cases of chicken tenders have been on the ground for more than 24 hours. They’re not safe to eat.

Curtis Summerville, spokesman for the division of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency that covers Cherokee County, told The Post that the driver had lost control of his vehicle when the truck spilled its load. Officials have not yet determined what caused the crash, Summerville said. The spokesman couldn’t say how many drivers may have helped themselves to free chicken.

“Keep in mind,” he said, “we investigated the crash. Anything that happened after the crash, I wouldn’t have a number on that.”

Cherokee County, named after Native Americans who were forcibly removed from their land in the 19th century, is a rural area in the Appalachians.

Officials say no one was injured in the single-vehicle crash, but it’s too soon to know whether anyone was sickened by the chicken tenders along the side of the road.

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