On our way back from Cincinnati, we were passing by Corbin, Kentucky, which is the home of the original Sanders Cafe (well, I guess second since the first was destroyed in a fire in the late 1930s) — where Harland Sanders first fried chicken. At his first restaurant across the street, he figured chicken took too long to cook and stuck to ham and steak. This building serves as museum of the original compound with the restaurant and motel as well as…a regular KFC.
My own KFC story is that I worked at one for a couple of years in high school and college, and I chose to work there specifically because I figured everybody from school was too ‘cool’ to ever be seen in a KFC (my tender teenage ego wasn’t prepared to have to ask a classmate ‘original or extra crispy?’). And my plan worked: not once in those two years did I ever see a classmate. Seriously.
Ah, here are some other KFC stories:
Our busiest day was always Mother’s Day.
Working drive-thru was more fun than the counter for some reason.
The gentleman who owned our franchise looked like Colonel Sanders and would dress like him sometimes to the delight of…only the older customers.
Now that I’m grown up, we have friends who own Popeye’s restaurants.
Ah. Oh wait I have another couple of restaurant-working stories.
When I was 15, before the gleaming spinning bucket of KFC lured me away from the golden arches, I worked at McDonald’s (thankfully never saw anyone I knew there either) and fell when I was getting french fries out of the walk-in freezer — counter service there was in charge of fries. Because the bottom of my shoes were so slippery and the door closed behind me, for two seconds I planned out how I could survive before freezing. Igloo from McRib boxes?
I worked as a hostess at a Cracker Barrel for a few months right before my college internship which righted my course to the delights of office life. So I went from saying ten thousand times a day: “original or extra tasty crispy?” to “smoking or non?”. Also: occasionally people from outside the South would come in thinking they were going to have some sort of weird authentic cultural experience (y’all. please.) from dining at a Cracker Barrel (again. please.), and as part of that would ask me to say something so they could revel in my accent. I beseech thee: never be that kind of person.
And always, always be kind to everyone you meet and especially kind to people who work in the service industry.
William Faulkner famously quit the Oxford post office and in that letter:
As long as I live under the capitalistic system, I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.
This, sir, is my resignation.
It isn’t the typical museum, but there are some pieces, like this 1960s weathervane from a Shelbyville, Tennessee Kentucky Fried Chicken
This restored highway sign was once used roadside in North Carolina
Here, a recreation of the old kitchen
Since we were here…