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Monday, January 27, 2020

Lickety Split, the Holly Farms Chicken, graced his first card, then soon found himself - and the brand - on the way out

By the time Lickety Split, the Holly Farms Chicken, graced his first baseball card, he already appeared to be on the way out.

The chicken manufacturer, based about an hour west of Winston-Salem, sponsored the Winston-Salem Spirits baseball card set in 1990.

In return, the Holly Farms logo appeared on each card front and Lickety Split, the Holly Farms sports-loving chicken, got his own card.

But the sponsorship of the Winston-Salem set came the year after Holly Farms got a new owner, Tyson Foods and soon the Holly Farms name would be completely phased out.

Holly Farms was founded in Wilkesboro, N.C., in 1958 and continued there on its own until 1989, when Tyson purchased it.

The purchase also coincided with labor issues at the Wilkesboro company, according to The Washington Post. A drivers' strike at the plant in 1989 stretched into May 1990, as did questions of wider unionization. The Post article came about the same time the Holly Farms-sponsored Winston-Salem Spirits set was being put together.

Within 10 years of Tyson's purchase, though, the once-national Holly Farms brand was gone, phased out by Tyson, according to The Winston-Salem Journal.

The brand then stayed dormant for about two decades, before being revived regionally in 2009 through at least three stores, including Food Lion, The Journal wrote.

"We're excited about working with Food Lion LLC to offer Holly Farms-branded chicken to consumers again," Tim Price, vice president of business development for Tyson Foods' retail fresh poultry business said then, according to The Journal. "We plan to produce a wide variety of tray-packed chicken products with the same freshness, safety and quality people have historically expected from products bearing the Holly Farms name."

As for Lickety Split, the Holly Farms Chicken, the name, at least, appears to have made it onto a Holly Farms hat: "Fully-Cooked Roasted Chicken Lickety-Split."

The Holly Farms Lickety Split award was also given out in NASCAR. Dale Earnhardt won it at the 1990 Daytona 500. Holly Farms was the official chicken of NASCAR and sponsored the Tyson Holly Farms 400. (Earnhardt won the 400 in 1991)

That would also explain one of the references on Lickety Split's card back.

The full card back text: "Lickety Split, the Holly Farms Chicken, burst on the scene in 1990 and roasted the competition. His incredible speed has earned a tasty reputation not only at the dinner table, but also in pecking fowl balls at Ernie Shore Field. In his off time, Lickety Split drives on the Winston Cup Circuit and plays ACC basketball."

The chicken came in at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, weighing in at 190 pounds. He was born May 12, 1990 (11 days after that Post story ran). He resided in Wilkesboro, Holly Farms' home, and, finally, was acquired in a 1990 "first round hatch."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,286
Made the Majors:1,180-35.9%
Never Made Majors:2,106-64.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 487
10+ Seasons in the Minors:286

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