Krekel's chicken car

The chicken car is a distinctive sight parked outside of the Krekel’s Dairy Maid along route 121 in Decatur.

If you want to get noticed, get a chicken Cadillac.

That was the working philosophy of businessman Bill Krekel, father of the Krekelburger, who hatched his first restaurant in Decatur in 1953. Later, he needed something eye-catching to promote the business and, while chicken wasn't a main menu item, a big '80s Caddy sprouting a giant fiberglass rooster head and tail feathers, the car body painted to match, proved just the ticket.

Troy Teel, a Krekel grandson who now owns the restaurant at Illinois 121 and Main and in Mount Zion, says the chicken represented everybody calling, or crowing, for a Krekelburger.

“Anyone who sees that car going down the road or parked in front of the business would think of Krekel's,” he said. “That was the idea, and it worked. ”

Bill Krekel would even loan the cars out occasionally and they got used in everything from weddings to parades. These days what was once a flock of four vehicles has dwindled to two and they don't get out much as the fowl play of time has taken its toll. But when Bill Krekel died in 2003, there were chicken Cadillacs in the funeral procession to salute their creator's last flight.

“Everybody smiles when they see those cars,” said Teel, 49. “And really, I think that is what Bill Krekel enjoyed most about them.”

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