Starting in the early 1700s, the group that would come to be called the Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish began migrating to North America in large numbers. Both groups influence each other, beyond their shared Gaelic and Celtic heritage. Before the American Revolution, more Scots-Irish emigrated to the American continent than almost any other group, and it is estimated that at least 250,000 Scots-Irish lived in the American colonies by the 1770s. Many of those individuals eventually made their way to the Appalachian Mountains. Bluegrass music specifically, with its strong reliance on storytelling and instruments like the fiddle, was heavily influenced by music traditions from both Scotland and Ireland. The Appalachian quilting tradition can also be traced back to Scots-Irish culture, as can the practice of making moonshine. Additionally, the southern Appalachian square dance similar to the Celtic reels. Plus the Scots-Irish originally built the first rock fences in Kentucky. But here is the surprise – in The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink first published in 1983 by John F. Mariani, it is noted that “Almost every country had its own version of fried chicken from Vietnam’s Ga Xao to Italy’s Polo Fritto and Austria’s Wiener Backhendl. But the Scottish, who enjoyed frying their chicken rather than boiling or baking them, as the English did, brought this method with them when they settled in the American south. So, the American food called Fried Chicken is another southern culture practice that is Scots-Irish.

The African American Influence

A likely scenario is that at some point between the 17th and 19th centuries, enslaved African Americans began cooking fried chicken based on the recipes provided by their Scots-Irish slaveholders. In time, African American cooks embraced it as part of their own culinary tradition. African American cooks caused fried chicken to lose its Scottish identity and it became as quintessentially “Southern” as black-eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato pie. In the 19th century, fried chicken became the dish that was a route to economic empowerment for many African Americans. African Americans popularized fried chicken across the US by selling it to travelers through open train windows. Gordonsville, Virginia was a major stop on two Civil War era railroad lines. The train did not have dining cars. When weary train passengers arrived in Gordonsville, black women rushed to offer a combination of foods that included fried chicken. Gordonsville, Virginia became known as the Fried Chicken Capital of the World. Fried chicken single handedly helped many African American build their own homes.

Colonel Harland Sanders

We cannot talk about fried chicken without mentioning Colonel Sanders. It was this white entrepreneur who caused fried chicken to really take flight in the US. In the 1950’s, Colonel Sanders adopted traditional techniques perfected by African Americans in the US south and began franchising his Antebellum themed Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. He figured out how to mass produce fried chicken. As a legitimate fast food, the southern style fried chicken began spreading its wings globally in the 1970s. It often gave people in other countries their first taste of southern style fried chicken. This resulted in worldwide fame for southern style fried chicken.

Fried Chicken’s Devoted Flock Grows Every Day

Until World War II, fried chicken in the US was considered a food for special occasions. These days it’s become so widely available that people eat it whenever the mood strikes. You can even find delicious fried chicken at mini marts. They fry it up fresh every hour and it is worlds away from KFC. According to the US National Chicken Council, the average American ate 28 pounds of chicken in 1960. Americans now eat about 99 pounds of chicken each year. That is a considerable amount more than the 57 pounds of beef 57 or the 53 pounds of pork 53 we consume!

Do you Love Fried Chicken? Route 17 Express Has You Covered!

Charley Biggs’ Chicken is carefully marinated, double-battered, and cooked fresh in our stores every day. A tasty blend of superior seasonings and hot, juicy chicken is always ready for lunch, snack or dinner. When combined with any of our specially blended dipping sauces, the taste of Charley Biggs’ Chicken & Sauce simply can’t be beat.
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About Route 17 Express

Route 17 Express is a hometown general store and restaurant. We offer Charlie Biggs Chicken, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Deli, Hot n Serve Meals, Marathon Gas, Firewood, Straw, and Much More!
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