- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 20, 2002

It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.
It takes a famous man to become a bobblehead.
Now Frank Perdue has done both.
The Delmarva Shorebirds, a Baltimore Orioles Class A farm team, will honor the Salisbury, Md., poultry magnate with a bobblehead at its July 28 game. The little statues whose heads bob will be given to the first 1,000 fans that afternoon.
The team says it is the first time a business leader has been immortalized as a bobblehead, an honor usually reserved for famous athletes and pop culture icons.
"We wanted to pay tribute to a driving force behind this team, and we wanted that tribute to be as unique as possible," said Ryan Murray, a Delmarva Shorebirds spokesman.
Mr. Perdue, the former chairman and chief executive of Perdue Farms Inc., donated the land in Salisbury where the Delmarva Shorebirds built their stadium, Mr. Murray said. He also gave $4 million for the construction, which cost $10 million.
Mr. Perdue was traveling yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
"The only thing I ever wanted to do, besides raise chickens, was to be a professional baseball player. Unfortunately, I gathered more splinters from sitting on the bench than hits," he said in a statement.
A Perdue Farms spokeswoman said Mr. Perdue was "humbled" when he learned of the plans for his bobblehead.
"He is a huge Cal Ripken fan. The fact that his bobblehead might be included in a collection with the Cal Ripken bobblehead, that was pretty amazing to him," said spokeswoman Tita Cherrier.
Before becoming a bobblehead, Mr. Perdue was best known as the star of a series of popular Perdue Farms television commercials in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of the ads ended with his trademark slogan, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken."
Bobbleheads were used to promote popular baseball players until the 1970s, when they began to gradually lose popularity. Fans who showed up early at the games received free bobbleheads of their favorite players.
The Baltimore Orioles helped revive that tradition about two years ago, when it began distributing a Cal Ripken Jr. bobblehead. Soon, Bensussen Deutsch and Associates Inc., the Seattle advertising-products company that made the Ripken bobblehead, began making them for other athletes.
A collectible craze was born. Now it seems everyone who has been famous for at least 15 minutes has a bobblehead, including politicians (President Bush, Rudolph W. Giuliani), old TV stars (Mr. T, Redd Foxx) and musicians (Liberace, Joey Ramone).
But Frank Perdue?
Perhaps it's a sign of the times. Corporate accounting scandals have dominated the news in recent months, turning business executives into celebrities. Bensussen Deutsch plans to produce a Donald Trump bobblehead later this year.
Is it just a matter of time before Kenneth L.. Lay, former Enron Corp. chairman and chief executive, becomes a bobblehead, too?
Probably not, said Steve Avanessian, vice president of marketing for Bensussen Deutsch, a leading bobblehead maker.
"They're usually reserved for beloved icons and athletes. What it's really become is like a mini-Academy Award."
One person who doesn't think Mr. Perdue should be a bobblehead is Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns, a Machipongo, Va.-based group that has accused Perdue Farms of exploiting its workers and harming the environment on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
"I don't think Frank Perdue deserves to be honored by anyone but thugs and thieves," she said. She would only be interested in obtaining a Frank Perdue bobblehead if she could throw darts at it.
Bensussen Deutsch did not make the Frank Perdue bobblehead. A spokesman for the company that did New Jersey-based Bobble Dreams USA said he was too busy yesterday doing interviews about the bobblehead craze to speak.


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