July 16, 2024

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How Nashville hot chicken became so big

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Prince’s Hot Chicken

Courtesy: Prince’s Hot Chicken

This story is part of CNBC’s new quarterly Cities of Success series, which explores cities that have been transformed into business hubs with an entrepreneurial spirit that has attracted capital, companies and workers.

Nashville hot chicken had its humble beginnings nearly a century ago. Now, the specialty chicken style is a national phenomenon.

The Tennessee city has numerous hot chicken restaurants competing for the top spot, as both locals and tourists flock to get a taste of the dish. At the same time, large fast-food companies such as KFC, Baja Fresh, Dave’s Hot Chicken and more are increasingly featuring Nashville hot chicken on their menus.

According to data from Technomic, a food service research and consulting firm, the Nashville hot chicken trend saw a boost at the onset of the pandemic, with a peak at the end of 2022.

From the first quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of that same year, Nashville hot chicken menu mentions saw a nearly 25% increase. It’s an even bigger increase over the past five years: 65.7%.

The Nashville hot chicken origin story

But Nashville hot chicken isn’t just a spicy new trend.

The origins of the dish are unofficially traced back to the kitchen of Thornton Prince in the 1930s, according to his great-great niece, Semone Jeffries, the CEO of Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville.

Read more about Nashville and CNBC’s Cities of Success

As the story goes, Prince’s scorned lover wanted to teach him a lesson after a suspicious night out — and that lesson manifested in what the restaurant likes to call a “devilish” amount of spices and flavor atop a delicately fried chicken.

That recipe was soon perfected and transformed into a Nashville classic, becoming central to local Black residents’ lives, Jeffries said. The chicken is covered in a blend of spices, topped with pickles and served with fries atop a toasted slice of bread.

Owner Andre Prince of Prince’s Hot Chicken

Courtesy: Prince’s Hot…



2023-11-30 15:12:29

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