The History of Nashville Hot Chicken

The originator of hot chicken is said to be Thornton Prince, known for his womanizing back in the 1930s.

The story goes that he stepped out on his lady one Saturday night. So on Sunday morning, she doused his fried chicken with the spiciest items she had in her kitchen. No one knows for sure what went into that first hot chicken.

The plan backfired, Prince loved it. The woman disappeared from his life, but her hot chicken lived on.

He shared it with friends and word spread. Thornton decided he liked it so much that, by the mid-1930s, he and his brothers had created their own recipe and opened the BBQ Chicken Shack café.

On weekends most restaurants dedicated to hot chicken are open very late, some past 4 am. As of 2015, there are an estimated two dozen restaurants in the Nashville area that serve hot chicken, either as the focus or as part of a larger menu. Reflecting the growing popularity of the dish, several cities in the United States host restaurants that serve hot chicken or a variation thereof.