Fried Chicken Day is July 6 and it’s been a popular item on American menus for decades. Whether it’s part of a picnic lunch or Sunday dinner, it seems like everyone either has a favorite fried chicken recipe or restaurant. But how much do you know about one of America’s favorite meals?

  • Sometime between 7,500 and 5,000 BCE, wild fowl were domesticated in Southeast Asia. Stewed chicken began appearing in documents from that period from China, West Africa and the Middle East.
  • Scottish immigrants brought their practice of deep-frying chicken in fat to the southern United States, as opposed to the British, who preferred to roast or boil chicken. After its introduction to the American South, fried chicken quickly became a staple. Cooks began adding seasonings and spices to enhance the flavor of the chicken. The most famous seasoning combination is KFC’s 11 herbs and spices.
  • Traditionally chicken is fried in lard but corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil and vegetable oil are also used.
  • The first recipe for fried chicken in the U.S. appeared in a book called “The Virginia Housewife, Or Methodical Cook” published in 1825. It was written by Mary Randolph, who ran a boarding house, and whose brother was married to Thomas Jefferson’s daughter. Randolph’s book is considered by many to be the first cookbook published in America. Randolph’s recipe can be seen here.
  • Slaves were forbidden from owning hogs or cattle but allowed to have chickens, as those animals were considered too insignificant to ban.
  • Young spring chickens made the best fryers and fat for frying them was often expensive, so fried chicken dinners were reserved for holidays and special occasions until the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Eating KFC is a Christmas tradition in Japan. The first restaurant opened in the country in 1970 and by 1981 there were 324 restaurants throughout Japan. The company launched a promotion called “Kentucky for Christmas” in 1974 and a typical ad from that era showed a family enjoying fried chicken as “My Old Kentucky Home” played in the background. That’s not a traditional Christmas song, but the ads portrayed KFC as an elegant way to enjoy an “authentic” American Christmas holiday and postwar Japan was fascinated with Western culture. The ads worked; KFC Japan earned 6.9 billion yen (roughly $63 million US) between December 20-25, 2018.