Fried chicken’s a greasy, deliciously indulgent comfort food enjoyed all over the world. But did you know that the ultimate soul food originated in our own backyard — where Scottish chicken-frying methods were combined with West African seasoning traditions — to create what is now one of the world’s favorite guilty pleasures? Fried chicken was an expensive delicacy up until World War II, but thanks to mass production techniques, we’re now able to indulge ourselves on the cheap in almost any city in the world. So on July 6, we get out our buckets ‘o’ chicken and napkins, because it’s National Fried Chicken Day.
When is National Fried Chicken Day 2021?
Juicy, tender, and crispy fried chicken is celebrated on National Fried Chicken Day on July 6.
History of National Fried Chicken Day
American fried chicken is considered the best, but Americans weren’t the first to do it. Europeans were already frying chickens back in the Middle Ages, but it was the Scottish immigrants to the U.S. who brought with them their tradition of deep-frying chicken in fat. Their preferred style of eating fried chicken was with no seasoning so their recipe was slightly bland. African slaves of the Scottish immigrants adopted the fried chicken recipe, often adding more spices as their own unique touch in the way fried chicken was cooked. This dish became a staple in many Southern-American households when African slaves became cooks there.
One basis of this theory is from James Boswell’s journal titled “Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.” In 1773, he wrote about eating fricassee of fowl for dinner, served by the locals — “fried chicken or something like that.”
The earliest known recipe for fried chicken was written by Hannah Glasse in the 18th century in her cookbook titled “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.” Her recipe was strangely named ‘To Marinate Chickens,’ and its first publication was in 1747.
The history of fried chicken wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the king of fried chicken himself, Colonel Harland David Sanders. After doing a range of jobs, he came up with the genius idea of cooking fried chicken fast using a blend of seasoning and a pressure cooker. When he first started selling the dish at his restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, it wasn’t an instant success. At the age of 65, he hit the road selling his fried chicken under the name “Kentucky Fried Chicken.” As part of his business, he adopted the title of colonel. By 1964, when he sold his company, there were 600 KFC franchises all over the country.
Fried chicken continues to spark the interest of food lovers and consumers. In 2019, Popeye’s launched their fried chicken sandwich, which caused a huge sensation. The craze and hype for the chicken sandwich continue until the present, with an ongoing ‘chicken war’ between competing franchises.
National Fried Chicken Day timeline
Humans living in Southeast Asia domesticate wild jungle fowl.
Fried chicken is associated with American Southerners.
The earliest known written recipe for American-style fried chicken appears in the British cookbook, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse.
"Colonel" Harland Sanders begins franchising his Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
National Fried Chicken Day - Survey Results
It’s tradition to consume a bucket (or two) of fried chicken. Fried chicken is addictively good and unparalleled in taste. It is consumed in high quantities daily all over the world, but on National Fried Chicken Day, it will be sinful to not indulge in fried chicken.
Fried chicken is all the rage these days, with ‘chicken wars’ taking place between franchises. Great deals and limited edition fried chicken variations are offered, with people queuing to take advantage of them and get their favorite chicken. Social media blows up with fans pledging to their choice of chicken, and the hot topic of the day is “which fried chicken is the best of all?”
Fried chicken is prepared with different ingredients and methods in different communities, and countries. Cooking and trying variations of fried chicken is also traditional.
National Fried Chicken Day By The Numbers
3 – the number of primary frying methods for fried chicken.
1825 – the year when the first recipe for fried chicken in the U.S. appeared in a book called “The Virginia Housewife, Or Methodical Cook”
18,000 – the estimated number of KFC franchises worldwide.
115 – the number of countries KFC is sold in.
2,493 – the weight in pounds of the largest serving of fried chicken at KFC in celebration of the franchise’s 70th anniversary.
1.25 billion – the number of chicken wing portions consumed on Super Bowl weekend in 2012.
National Fried Chicken Day FAQs
What day is National Fried Chicken Sandwich Day?
National Fried Chicken Sandwich Day is celebrated on November 9.
Which fried chicken is better, Popeye’s or KFC?
Popeye’s is currently reigning as the champion of chicken — with the best flavor, tenderness, and crunch factor.
Which is better Bojangles or KFC?
It all comes down to preference — if you prefer your fried chicken salty, then KFC is the way to go, whereas Bojangles fried chicken has spicy seasonings added to its mix.
National Fried Chicken Day Activities
Fry it up yourself
Find a recipe, hit the kitchen, and dive in. Serve the results to family and friends. They'll probably love you for it.
Fast food fried chicken is delicious, but on this special day, step up your fried chicken game. Try the real thing by finding an authentic Southern restaurant in your area. Chances are — fried chicken occupies a prominent place on the menu.
Treat the boss
Fried chicken is traditionally a family meal shared from a common bucket, bowl, or plate. Surprise your coworkers by carting a giant bucket 'o' chicken to the office and enjoying it together during your lunch hour. Make sure to bring plenty of napkins. Nobody wants greasy keyboards.
5 Facts About Fried Chicken
KFC wasn’t an overnight success
It took Colonel Sanders a long time to get his recipe to catch on.
Fried chicken has different traditions
In Japan, a bucket of KFC is a mandatory part of Christmas celebrations.
Fried chicken was for special occasions only
Before World War II, fried chicken was only served on special celebrations.
Fried chicken is different around the world
Chicken is fried differently around the world — in Korea, it is double-fried and coated in sweet and spicy sauce and, in Japan, it is cut into little pieces before frying.
Gainesville takes eating fried chicken seriously
In Gainesville, Georgia it's illegal to eat fried chicken with a fork or any utensil other than your hands!
Why We Love National Fried Chicken Day
Fried chicken acted as a means to empower slaves, who were able to generate independent cash flows by selling it. The dish became popular prior to the Civil War since chickens were the only animals slaves were allowed to own and raise.
Spicy? Extra crispy? Regular? There are as many ways to cook fried chicken as there are people lined up to eat it. Fried chicken can be dunked in vegetable shortening, lard, peanut oil, or any other oil of your choice.
Eat it your way
You can leave (most of) your manners at the door. It's a dish best eaten sloppily, noisily, and with a lot of passion.
National Fried Chicken Day dates
National Fried Chicken Day Featured Video
Celebrate National Fried Chicken Day!