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It is often said that we are a nation of followers. We tend to do things that other people do primarily because they did them first. You can point to numerous examples of this, particularly in the fashion world, where otherwise absurd items of clothing catch on for unexplainable reasons.
I saw a great example of this follower mentality this weekend at the People’s Fair on Capitol Hill. There were a half-dozen turkey leg vendors scattered throughout the area, and each booth had literally hundreds of humongous bird gams grilling at any one time. Everywhere you looked people were carting around gigantic hunks of meat like starving cavemen.
I don’t have anything against turkey legs, but I find it fascinating that people will scarf down an otherwise ridiculous food item when they get into a setting where other people are carrying them around. There’s no way you would eat a turkey leg in another setting; can you imagine opening a turkey leg restaurant on the 16th Street Mall? Would men and women in business suits really sit down at a turkey leg restaurant or stroll the mall with a giant hunk of meat in the same manner in which they would carry around a hot dog? Of course not. But if you hold a “fair,” you can serve up just about anything. All you have to do is sell that first turkey leg, and you’re off to the bird races.