The untold truth of Harold's Chicken Shack

Chicago is home to more than just deep-dish pizza and the White Sox — the Windy City is also home to Harold's Chicken Shack. When Harold Pierce first opened its doors back in 1950, the iconic establishment became one of Chicago's first black-owned businesses and quickly rose to regional (and now even national) fame. Best known for its peppery fried chicken (order it "fried hard" for a truly authentic experience), its mouthwatering soul food, and its signature mild sauce, Harold's is one place that should be on every foodie's bucket list. 

Whether you're visiting the Windy City for the first time or are a long-time Chicagoan, there are some things you might not yet know about the popular fast food joint, including the secret menu item that's just as drool-worthy as the fried chicken itself. Here's the real truth about Harold's Chicken Shack that' worth reading up on before you chow down.

The best way to eat your dinner is with a 'fry sandwich'

True Chicago-style fried chicken is served with red sauce drizzled over both the chicken itself and the bed of sizzling hot French fries that it's perched atop. The intent is for the crispy skin of the chicken soaks up the sauce, making it a deliciously messy meal to enjoy. But rather than eating your meal the way you usually would, if you want to look like a real Chicagoan, you should make what the locals call a "fry sandwich."

Take the two pieces of white bread that are served with every classic Harold's dinner and load them up with the soggy, sauce-soaked fries. Then put the two slices together to form your "fry sandwich." It might sound strange but both Harold's and its customers swear by it, so don't knock it until you try it. One warning, though: You'll want to make sure you have plenty of napkins nearby before giving this a try.

The taffy grapes are almost as famous as the chicken

Go for the fried chicken, stay for the taffy grapes. That may as well be the motto at Harold's, where the unique dessert is beloved by Chicago residents and tourists alike. Sold in packs of 25 and 30 pieces, the popular menu item consists of fresh green grapes that have been covered in a sticky taffy coating. The result? A sweet-yet-tangy taste similar to that of a taffy apple. They're so famous among locals that, according to the Chicago Tribune, the taffy grapes often sell out, with people buying multiple packs at a time to stock up.

The origin of taffy grapes isn't known, but the Tribune reports that they first started in the South Side of Chicago around 2011. If you want to get your hands on some of the deliciously decadent desserts from Harold's, it's recommended that you call ahead to make sure that the location you're heading to still has them in stock for the day.