This Is Where KFC's First-Ever Bucket Meal Was Sold

Eleven herbs and spices, a man in a slick white suit, and a whole heaping of irresistible Southern charm — these are only some of the things that make up Kentucky Fried Chicken. For over 69 years, KFC has been doing what it does best: serving fried chicken to a populace who crave some of Colonel Sanders' down-home, Southern-style fried chicken.

While some things on the menu have been hits, such as the popcorn chicken or extra crispy tenders, others have been outrageous blunders, such as the utterly bizarre "KFC Nacho Box" of chicken and nacho chips tested in Australia (via Business Insider). No matter what, it's always been about the chicken. Perhaps the best-known item on the menu and what most folks think of when you mention KFC is the chain's Bucket Meal.

A Bucket Meal consists of 8 to 16 pieces of chicken in a paper bucket, alongside a selection of sides like fries, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and a selection of biscuits, per the KFC website. Having been introduced in 1957, only five years after the start of the Colonel's chicken empire, the Bucket Meal has become synonymous with KFC (via National Museum of American History). But the famous bucket menu item wasn't the invention of Colonel Sanders himself. Instead, the story of the Bucket Meal begins with the first KFC franchisee and hundreds of paper buckets.

KFC franchisee Pete Harman invented and sold the bucket meal in Salt Lake City

The year is 1952, and in Salt Lake City, Utah, a smell of herbs and spices hangs in the warm August air (via KFC). The world's first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant has opened its doors under the supervision of Pete Harman, who has struck a deal with Harland Sanders to become the first franchisee of the blossoming chain. Although Sanders' secret recipe was more than enough to draw in customers, according to KFC, five years later Sanders proposed something new to Harman: Would he be willing to buy 500 paper buckets from another franchisee? Harman agreed and purchased the buckets, filling each one with 14 pieces of chicken, 5 biscuits, and a pint of gravy. Ever the quick thinker, Harman marketed these take-out buckets to housewives as an alternative to prepping a big dinner, even including a side of vegetables to round out the meal. 

Harman passed away in 2014 at the age of 95 (via DeseretNews). Remembered as an innovator, Pete Harman credited not his Bucket Meal invention, but the hard workers and friendly people of Utah who helped KFC launch into the global phenomenon that it is today. His legacy lives on — judging by full stomachs and happy smiles created from digging into a 16-piece meal around the table with family, friends, or heck, even just yourself.