One of my personal cardinal rules of traveling is that when I’m away from home, I try to avoid eating at places that I can find at home as much as possible. Although sometimes I’m not so good at actually following this rule, in general it means that I try to avoid eating at any of the big chains that are all over the place up in the Seattle area when I’m out on the road. I decided to make an exception to this rule today for something I’ve passed by a number of times but never actually had a chance to check out: The world’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, located on State Street in Murray Utah, a few miles south of downtown Salt Lake. Originally opened in 1952, it was at this location that the product was given the name of Kentucky Fried Chicken (the Colonel had never bothered naming it before then) and the famous KFC bucket was first used. The actual restaurant itself (a picture can be found here) stood until 2004 when it was demolished to make way for the modern (and much larger) KFC restaurant that stands on the site now, which also serves as something of a small KFC museum. After the jump, a closer look at this place, and some of what is contained inside.
High overhead, customers are greeted by the once ubiquitous spinning bucket that has now largely fallen out of favor, and become something of an anachronism in the places where it remains. I don’t think this one actually spins (at least it wasn’t spinning when i was there) but in addition to a modern KFC logo on the side facing the street, the opposite side of this particular bucket features the design of the first ever bucket, as used here in 1958.
Outside the front door of the restaurant is this bronze statue of Colonel Sanders and Pete Harmon. Harmon was the owner of several restaurants in the Salt Lake area, and Sanders had successfully run a cafe at a gas station which served up his famous chicken recipe in Corbin Kentucky for a number of years until it went bust after the newly constructed freeway bypassed the town of Corbin, and left Sanders essentially broke. The two met at a restaurant convention, and in 1952, Colonel Sanders was passing through Salt Lake and paid a visit to Harman, providing a demonstration of his chicken recipe using spices purchased from a grocery store and a borrowed pressure cooker. Harman was impressed, and begun selling the chicken the very next day, painting the name of Kentucky Fried chicken on the window of the restaurant. The rest is, of course, history. The Harman Management Corporation still runs over 300 KFC franchises today.
The restaurant itself is run as a standard KFC, although it does feature a chicken buffet (which is something I’ve heard of, but never seen in a KFC at home) and a handful of other non-typical items on the menu such as ice cream. There are a number of displays throughout the restaurant, many of which are integrated into the tables. This particular one discussed the history of the KFC bucket.
Other displays inside the restaurant display some of the various memorabilia, including one of the original pressure cookers, a number of vintage boxes and buckets, and various ephemera hung up and framed on the walls.
The proverbial crown jewel of the collection of memorabilia found here is one of Colonel Sanders’ trademark white suits, purchased in 2002 at a charity auction for the price of $80,000.
If I was a redneck I’d probably be getting this picture framed and hanging it on the wall in the living room. Heck, I might just do that anyway…