It’s not every day you see a giant yellow chicken walking down the street in London. Or groups of people going from door to door trying to find it. In fact, I don’t think I ever even dreamed of such a thing until I started playing the One Giant Chicken game.
I hadn’t heard of the game until a few months ago. Apparently a friend of a friend in the States came up with the idea, and a few of my friends in London decided to put it to the test in Soho. Then Oxford. Then Islington.
Here’s how it works: 20 or so people meet at a pub in a designated area. Each one puts 20 pounds into one bag and a slip of paper with her or his name on it into another. One by one, the names are drawn and people are put onto teams. The last name drawn is the chicken. Which is to say, it is the person that is lucky enough to get to hang around London in a giant chicken costume.
Why is that person lucky? Because she or he gets to take all of the money, go to a pub, and start drinking through the stash. Meanwhile, all of the other participants split up into their respective teams and go from pub to pub looking for the chicken. The only caveat is that they cannot enter a pub to search for the bird without having a drink.
Once a team finds the chicken, they can start drinking with him or her. If other teams haven’t located the chicken after another 30 minutes to an hour, hints can be dropped until everyone meets up again and enjoys a pint with their feathered friend.
We are all so excited about this game that one of the group even started his own One Giant Chicken blog to share stories and photos from previous rounds.
At this point, you are probably either taking notes so that you can play this game yourself, or getting ready to leave an angry comment about how binge drinking is leading to the degradation of society. Either way, I hope you have gotten some inspiration.
If not—or if you want more—here are a few stories from our three rounds of the game.
The first time we played the One Giant Chicken game, we chose Soho as our location. Our chicken decided to hide in a pub near Piccadilly Circus, and despite the fact that every team searched for her for hours, and one team even went into the pub where she was hiding (she was upstairs), she had to send out hints via social media before we all found her. Still, it was a good time.
The second time we all trekked out to Oxford to play the One Giant Chicken game. Most of the participants had spent time studying at the university, and the chicken was no exception. It was a glorious summer day, and he headed straight to his favorite pub on the river.
One team knew him well enough that they went directly to the pub where he had stationed himself, taunting the rest of us with texts, tweets, and photos until we found him. Once we did, we all enjoyed Pimm’s on the terrace before heading back to London.
Our third round of the game was last weekend in Islington. The chicken headed to a cozy pub with a fireplace to wait for us to find him. Three pubs later, we received a cryptic clue via social media—”What’s that? you can’t find me? Crimea river.”—and put our not-so-useless-anymore liberal arts degrees to work to find him at The Florence (…because Florence Nightingale was famous for her nursing work in the Crimean War).
We spent the rest of the evening swapping stories with the other team that found the chicken and sending hints to the last team—some of them quality, some of them misleading—until they found us and toasted to the bird.
After three rounds of the game, we have learned a few lessons. Namely, limit the number of pubs in the boundary to around 30 or 40, pace yourself on the drinks (half pints of shandy are perfect for lightweights), and make sure you play in an area that people know well but not too well.
Now that we’ve perfected the strategy, I would like to share the One Giant Chicken game with you. Buy a chicken costume. Tell your friends. Be clever. Be safe. And most importantly, have fun. You’re wearing a big yellow bird costume, after all.