Thursday, 30 April 2009

An American Odyssey, Part 5: Utah

The Wikipedia entry for Utah tells us three important and seemingly unrelated things:

1:Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,736,424 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering around Salt Lake City.

2:According to Walmart, Utah has the fewest number of Walmart stores per capita at .081 per 100,000 people.

3: According to the National Restaurant Association, Utah has the lowest rate of restaurants per capita with 4,691 restaurants at a rate of 0.0017 restaurants per person.

What it fails to do is make the link between these three seemingly unrelated facts. Utah is host to the world's first KFC in Salt Lake City, and so, why would Utahns want to live anywhere else, eat at any other restaurants and even buy food anywhere else?

We arrived from Idaho in the North, bathed in glorious sunshine. If Kentucky was Mecca then Salt Lake City is surely Medina. Tourists throng here ostensibly to see the imposing edifices built by the Mormons, or so the church tells us. The truth is far more simple, they have come to visit 3,890 South State Street, the location of the world's first KFC opened by franchisee Pete Harman in 1952.

The original building was replaced in 2004 by a super KFC cum museum cum conference venue, and is also home to a fabled all you can eat KFC buffet. It is a strange venue, seeming to operate operates quasi independently keeping some of the original Harman's branding side by side with the usual KFC livery.

Inside was large and clean. There were specially designed tables, whose tops feature historical KFC photo's and documents. There was even a conference suite available for hire and a few museum pieces were scattered about here and there, such as one of the Colonels white suits in a glass case, and, most excitingly there was a gift shop.

Outside was a large parking lot with a paved area and some tastefully landscaped borders. the centerpiece of these gardens were the bronze statues of Harland with Harman, a popular attraction amongst the store's visitors. The store also boasted a bucket atop a pole emblazoned with the words " World's first KFC"

The Colonel's all you can eat buffet was the centrepiece of this cornucopia(sadly featuring no boneless chicken items, & so denied to pariahs such as myself) We had seen one or two advertised but hadn't really believed that they could actually exist, to see it for ourselves was just emotionally overwhelming. It brought to mind the scene from Willy Wonka, except this played out in my head as being with the Colonel as he opens a large door with the words, "Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls. . . . . . The Chicken room!" In which everything you see is made of Original recipe chicken.

Satiating our hunger with the colonels offerings we then pressed our faces up against the glass at the gift shop. Many things here had the dual Harman's/KFC branding but two particular items jumped out

1: a Colonel Sanders style long black bowtie and 2: the chance to own my very own relic. The manager Tracy Gingel had saved some bricks from the demolition of the original building and was offering them for sale to the faithful. We clamoured to purchase ours and watched with awe as he diligently packaged our bricks into a chicken box whilst regular diners looked on confusedly. Tracy and I chatted Chicken for a short while before it became time to leave.

And with that we drove off into the desert towards the West.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys!

Another great article! Would it be possible for me to do a review of the Dunstable branch KFC? It has loads of good and bad points, and I could get photos aswell! Let me know. Love the site, Steve (