The Bizarre Myth Surrounding Church's Chicken

Fast food myths — we've all heard them (and maybe even believed a few). From the urban legend of the Kentucky Fried rat to the pink slime that's said to make up McDonald's chicken nuggets, fast food restaurants have been the target of more than a few false rumors.

The rumors that can be the most damaging to a restaurant or any other business, however, are the ones that imply that the company stands for something truly egregious like racism or homophobia. After all, not all such reported information has been false. Take, for example, the cases of fast-food chain founders Chick-fil-A's Truett Cathy and Papa John's John Schnatter. Both men have expressed opinions that most of us consider to be truly regrettable, and have faced a certain amount of fallout such as bans, boycotts, and, in Papa John's case, banishment to a multi-million dollar monument to bad taste

However, there have been other fast food chains tainted by similar allegations that are completely without foundation, and one such accusation was the whisper campaign that linked Church's Chicken to the Ku Klux Klan.

The nonexistent Church's Chicken-KKK connection

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Church's Chicken/KKK story was prevalent in the '80s in the African American community, although most white people never even heard it. NewsOne goes on to explain the myth in greater detail. Allegedly, not only was the Church's Chicken said to be KKK-owned, but the accusation also goes that they were somehow introducing a certain substance into the chicken that would render Black men impotent. According to folklorist Patricia Turner, this myth was lent a certain appearance of veracity by the fact that many Church's franchises tend to be located in neighborhoods whose inhabitants are primarily African American.

This rumor had pretty much stopped spreading by the time Popeyes took over the Church's chain in 1989, although Snopes notes that just a few years later a similar story surfaced about a soft drink called Tropical Storm. There has never been any evidence produced to support these stories, but even so, the rumors have left their legacy. Although the NewsOne contributor says she's well aware of the falsehood, she nevertheless admits "To this day, I — and I hang my head down in shame as I write this — will not allow any of my male family members to consume Church's Fried Chicken!"