What is Nashville Hot Chicken?

What is Nashville Hot Chicken

Every year, thousands of foodies would flock to Music City Hot Chicken Festival for what was once Nashville’s long kept secret – Nashville Hot Chicken. In 2007, Mayor Bill Purell decided to create an entire Festival dedicated to this Southern staple dish. The blistering spice coupled with the scorching heat of the sun makes it an adrenaline-pumping event. The festival brings together food vendors and foodies to celebrate this succulent local specialty. We all love fried chicken and its many forms, but there’s nothing quite like the allure of the golden, crispy fried chicken with a major kick. Nashville Hot Chicken boasts a complex flavor – a blend of burning sensation that is not for the faint of heart, and a touch of sweetness. The flaming hot, succulent and perfectly crispy fried chicken

While there is a plethora of mild variations and heat levels from new establishments, traditional Nashville-style Hot Chicken is typically seasoned with cayenne pepper and lard. The origin of this fiery chicken can be dated back to the 1930s, when it was invented “accidentally” after a philanderer cheated on his girlfriend. Fast forward to today, a lot of restaurants put their own twist on this classic southern dish with their own dips and flavors. If it’s too hot to handle, you can wash it down with some tater tots and a cold drink.

This dish is no longer served in just Music City, you can order it from anywhere you want. Trailer Birds, the brainchild of the culinary team of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, offers catering, carryout and food delivery in many cities and states. Look no further than Trailer Birds if you want to get your spice cravings fixed.

Unlike other fried chicken like buffalo hot wings, Nashville Hot Chicken has a complex flavor that’s inexplicable. Some would even consider it a “punishment and joy at the same time”, which ironically resonates with the origin of Nashville Hot Chicken.  Without further ado, let’s dive into the nitty gritty of Nashville Hot Chicken’s history!

The Origin of Nashville Hot Chicken: It All Begins with a Cheating Lover

The history of this hot chicken dish can be dated back to the 1930s and it has turned into Nashville’s treasure since then. As the legend goes, there was a young man called Thornton Prince, known as a serial philanderer who cheated on his girlfriend. As part of the revenge scheme, his girlfriend doused his favorite dish – crispy fried chicken, with blistering cayenne pepper and mustard seed among other fiery spices. Unlike Coca-cola or tater tots, this dish was not invented by accident, but rather, it was premeditated by a betrayed lover.  Here’s the plot twist – Thornton Prince ended up falling in love harder with this “punishing spice” than all his lovers combined! The beauty of Nashville-style Hot Chicken is that it’s a punishment and a joy at the same time.  Shortly after, Thornton Prince even opened a hot chicken establishment!

As a State Representative in 1996, Bill Purell officially declared Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack the Best Restaurant in Tennessee. Then in 2007 as the mayor, he decided to find a way to turn it into Nashville’s cash cow through drawing some tourist bucks to the city’s economy. The Music City Hot Chicken Festival is held every 4th of July weekend in Nashville’s East Park. The fact that it is hosted in the sweltering heat of Nashville’s Summer resonates with the underlying theme and origin of Hot Chicken – an “enjoyable punishment”. This dish has gone from just a Southern food to a national hipster food.

The Dish Has Gone Hipster

Hot Chicken has evolved just as much as Nashville’s hipster scene does. There’s nothing quite as hipster as taking a classic dish that has been around for decades and putting a modern twist on it. And many Nashville Hot Chicken establishments have the mission to make the dine-in experience “cool” and “hipster-y”! You can find bizarre spins on the classic dish like Chicken IPA from Tailgate Brewery. And Trailer Birds, a Nashville Hot Chicken restaurant, served tater tots featuring Nashville Hot Chicken at Taste of Dallas this year. Taste of Dallas is a food festival featuring a Fun Zone with a wide array of activities, including photo ops with Black Panther, Spider Man and activities like mechanical bull riding. Trailer Birds had a photo booth there with Flamingo floaties and other quirky props. On top of that, they’ve re-invented this classic dish with their own dips and flavors. You can now order this succulent dish from Trailer Birds on their website as well as UberEATS and Door Dash, etc.

Read also: Fourth of July Food – Nashville Hot Chicken & Tater Tots

What is Nashville Hot Chicken?

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