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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7051/chicken-salad-chick-shut-down/

Chicken-Salad Chick Shut Down

August 29, 2007 by

Last night, a lady from my neighborhood just delivered her last pint of chicken salad to my door. Her chicken salad–made by “The Chicken Salad Chick”–has been all the rage, with everyone in the neighborhood forking over for this stuff. It’s a classic case of a suburban food hysteria.

But she is shutting down, not because of her failures but her success. The Health Department of the County called her home. They were very nice and sweet in a Southern sort of way. But they explained that it is not fair to those who have complied with all the regulations for selling retail that she should be allowed to bake and sell from her domestic kitchen. You have to have industrial ovens. You must comply with all food regulations. You must cook and sell only from an area zoned for commercial purposes. And yes, someone called to complain: not a customer but a competitor who does comply with all these regs.

It’s just fairness right? Well, call it what you want but note that this action was taking for motives having nothing whatever to do with the health of the public. It was driven by a competitor wanting to drive up her costs and therefore hurt her business. The regs are being used to clobber competition — which is precisely why they were created and precisely the way they work in the real world, all civics-texts pieties aside.

Cases of local tyranny always intrigue me because they are microeconomic cases that provide insight into how macroeconomic regulation occurs. The model is the same but on a much larger scale. The competitor who ratted out the Chicken-Salad Chick was another small vendor, not a major chain. The major chain work through larger bureaucracies to hammer larger competitors.

All in the name of health and your well being.

{ 15 comments }

Evans August 30, 2007 at 3:51 pm

There is no end to government interference. One of my frequent amusements is making silly jokes about the plausibility of ‘limited government.’

darjen August 30, 2007 at 8:05 pm

The residents of her community can sleep well now, knowing they are protected from the would-be catastrophe of unregulated chicken salad. Disgusting.

M E Hoffer August 30, 2007 at 10:21 pm

Are we kidding? Why should she pack up her spoons and stay home? Where’s the Tort? (Shouldn’t she/ She should) keep on keeping on, no? Wouldn’t her “pro/per”-secution shed light on the depths of depravity that out current Schema therein lies? Wouldn’t her, heretofore, customers come to her defense/Aid, at the minimum?

That we continue to lie down in the face of such obvious nonsense can only mean that we have lost our Sense (No?)

Maybe if the same bureaucrat, you know, With Authority, told us to March, thusly, we’d find ourselves, readily, and shortly, thereafter, showering in Zyklon 2.0…What, really, is/would be the difference?

Tom Woods August 30, 2007 at 11:07 pm

This is an outrage. We are hooked on her chicken salad, which is the best any of us have ever tasted. Absolutely insane. I wonder if there’s anything we can do.

TokyoTom August 31, 2007 at 12:35 am

Jeff and Tom:

You “wonder if there’s anything we can do.”

Have you tried:

- investigating the law, to see if the Health Department actually has solid legs to stand on, and whether the CSC has good counterarguments? What are the thresholds before she is considered a commercial operation? No one extends this stuff to bake sales or roadside koolaide stands, do they?

- arranging for counterpressure, by hand-delivering samples to the county commissioners, writing to the local paper or arranging a boycott and negative publicity for the lousy competitor?

- encouraged the CSC to continue anyway, either in the open or surrepticiously, by banding with other fans to indemnify her if she gets fined?

Just a few thoughts.

TT

Eurotrash August 31, 2007 at 12:45 am

The Chicken chick probably had wrong or no man in the cityhall/state capital/Washington, and the competitor could argue for the common good.

jeffrey August 31, 2007 at 8:37 am

It is illegal most places in the US, so far as I know, to bake stuff in your kitchen and sell it retail on an ongoing basis. You can do a bake sale for charity but not make a profit at it. So the Health Department is precisely right. The Chicken Salad Chick naively thought she could do something for others and for herself and there would be no one to stop her. She assumed, as many Americans do, that we live in a free country. Now some outside parasite says that she can’t and threatens violence if she continues. So there you go.

What is troubling here is a tendency we see many times. Businesses start out of people’s homes, and then the regulators intervene, so the proprietor opens a shop. But the costs rise, the charm is gone, and the customers disappear. The person loses money. The competitors win.

What we need is a wholesale repudiation of this myth that these regs serve the public. They don’t. They serve large retailer interests — those established in the market who want to keep the competition at bay.

Casey Khan August 31, 2007 at 9:13 am

I know it’s not always the best way to do things, but has the lady considered taking her case to Institute for Justice?

Will August 31, 2007 at 9:17 am

If she lived near me, I’d encourage her to GIVE me chicken salad from time to time, and I’d occasionally give her a few bucks, just ’cause I like her.

Casey Khan August 31, 2007 at 9:21 am

“They serve large retailer interests — those established in the market who want to keep the competition at bay.”

This is my ultimate problem with Walmart. The mom and pop stores who lose out to such giants need to understand this distinction.

Person August 31, 2007 at 9:32 am

The law should be repealed, of course, but it is true, as the existing retailers claim, that for the CSC to sell the salad without having to follow the regulations while the rest do, is unfair. I mention this because the situation reminds me of a frequent converstaion with a lot of leftists, who shall remain nameless.

leftist: “OBVIOUSLY, big corporations are an example of the inefficiency of the capitalist system. Look at this thing they sell. I can make it cheaper by myself. Look at my calculations.”

me: “Yeah, but you didn’t follow the regulations that existing businesses do.”

leftist: “Well, those regulations shouldn’t exist!”

me: “And if they didn’t, the corporations wouldn’t have to follow them either, and they’d be able to undercut you.”

leftist: “No, because corporations are inefficient. Look how I can make this item for cheaper!”

me: *falls out of chair*

LJR August 31, 2007 at 9:36 am

She might be able to start a coop. Members pay a monthly fee to belong and get chicken salad as a bonus.

MarkCinPhx August 31, 2007 at 1:14 pm

A similar case in Phoenix involved a teenager that was putting screens on plumbing vents on roofs in his neighborhood to keep roof rats from coming in. He was shut down by the state because he was not a ‘licensed pest control’ company.

IMHO August 31, 2007 at 3:38 pm

What if, instead of a coop, she had people invest in her product so that she could have the facilities needed to get into the market and compete. Let’s face it…what she would spend on attorney’s fees to fight it might be put to better use getting her business underway.

She might be able to get her chicken salad into boutique markets, the larger chains might want to buy the salad under a private label. It might also provide an opportunity for her to develop other products as well.

Jason September 2, 2007 at 11:05 pm

We had the same problem in the Chemistry stockroom of the school where I’m a student: the stockroom lady used to get muffins from Sam’s Club and sell them to us hungry grad students at cost. Then the vending machine people complained that she didn’t have a license, the muffins weren’t packaged, etc. So now no more muffins. At least the physics stockroom still sells bagels… but for how much longer?

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