20 November 2008

Colonel's kernels: A culinary "What-If"

A really cool "roadside find" the other day in Asheville. We start with what has become one of the most famous motel postcards ever:
Yes, this is the Sanders Court & Cafe in Corbin, Kentucky, where a guy named Harlan Sanders was wowwing the travelers at the US 25-E and 25-W split with his pressure-cooked fried chicken.

But take a good look at the small print above. You see, Mr. Sanders (I'm sure most of you know that he was not a real 'colonel' ... he just played one on bucket) operated two locations of Sanders Court (okay, say it with me: "I'm a CHAAAAAIN!!").

The other property was in Asheville, also along US 25 -- indeed, a heavily-traveled arterial in those days, sharing a route alignment with US highways 19, 23 and 70.
The big highway split visible in the above postcard is still there, although now both have since been demoted to mere county roads, having long been upstaged by I-26 and I-40.

The Corbin property was long gone, demolished in 1969 -- what exists on the site today is a recreation of the original cafe. I'd heard the Asheville property had met the same fate, as well.


All this popped into my mind Sunday night after we checked into our motel in Asheville. And I consulted my guru Dr. Wolfgang Von Google, who told me it was still very much there.

Soooooo ... after we dropped off Seraphim's treehouse at the Grove Park Inn, and went back to the hotel and got Nettie, we set upon our day's adventures. First it was lunch, and then it was a nice trip up "The Old Highway" (cue Bernard Hermann's Psycho music here).

And there it was....
Wow, is all I can say. Just ... wow!

Today "Sander Court" is an unassuming collection of small apartments. Here is how the left-hand part of the spread, the part facing the highway, looks today:
And below is the right side of the property .... while the roofline has since been modified along much of the apartments, a part of it still retains the 'mini-gables' which defined both the Asheville and Corbin properties:
Now, is that cool or what ! ! !

As I took a picture of the signage out front, I wondered out loud to Sera and Nettie if the residents of this complex were aware that they were living in Colonel Sanders' old motel?

And as I further pondered the history aspect, it led me to a gigantic WHAT-IF.

You see, Harland Sanders kept largely to his 'home base' of Corbin, while one presumes he hired a manager to oversee the Asheville operations.

But what if it'd been the other way around? What if Mr. Sanders had run his cafe in Asheville instead of Corbin? That his discovery of pressure-cooking fried chicken had taken place not in Corbin, but in Asheville?

The chicken would've become famous, regardless of where he cooked it. Only the "image" would've been different. The governor of Kentucky at the time is the one who bestowed upon Mr. Sanders that state's honorary title of "Kentucky Colonel."

North Carolina, as we know, has no such equivalent. Still, I can't help but wonder just how history would've changed if Mr. Sanders hung his apron a little further south on Highway 25.

I can see it now:
The buckets probably would've still spun. The restaurants probably would've had their characteristic striped roofs. Except the stripes would be North Carolina Blue.

Yeah ... what if ..... ? ? ?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "The Original Buckethead" Gleck


Melissa said...

Kinda reminds me of thr "Big Pecker" chicken store somewhere in Delaware.

Melissa said...
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