How Seinfeld Helped Kenny Rogers Roasters Expand Across The US

"Seinfeld" has been a cultural meme for nearly 30 years, giving us sayings such as "regifting," "close-talker," "Yada yada yada," and "No soup for you!"

Speaking of soup, "Seinfeld" had plenty of food-centric storylines, including "The Soup Nazi" episode, which highlighted the importance of ordering correctly. "The Chinese Restaurant" was hilariously relatable for anyone who's waited for a restaurant table. And who can forget the time Jerry singlehandedly put Babu Bhatt out of business with his unhelpful menu suggestions? Another fan-favorite episode was "The Chicken Roaster," per IMDb, where viewers rated it 8.9 stars out of 10.

"The Chicken Roaster" aired in November 1996, during Season 8 of "Seinfeld." In the 1990s, rotisserie chicken restaurant concepts were having a big moment, noted the Los Angeles Times in 1994. They appealed to the public's desire for a healthful, wholesome, and family-oriented alternative to fast food, and roasted chicken fit the bill. Boston Chicken (now Boston Market) and El Pollo Loco were popular newcomers to the genre, and even the fried chicken emporium KFC got in on the roasted/rotisserie chicken game. But none of these chains had the unexpected and welcomed publicity boost that one Florida concept did. A whole Seinfeld episode was centered around the restaurant and its irresistible wood-fired poultry.

Do you know the restaurant chain? Here's a hint: It launched in 1991 when a famous country music artist of the 1970s and 1980s partnered with a former Kentucky governor and named a restaurant for a white-haired, bearded country crooner.

The Seinfeld publicity was priceless

That country superstar was Kenny Rogers, who went into business with John Y. Brown Jr. They set out to sell wood-fired rotisserie chicken and side dishes in their Kenny Rogers Roasters chain (per Love Food). Brown bought Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964, growing the brand from 600 to 3,500 units before it was sold in 1971, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

In "The Chicken Roaster," Kramer flees his apartment because of the blinding red sign of the Kenny Rogers Roasters that has opened next door. Though he originally tries to ruin the restaurant by hanging a "bad chicken" sign out his window, Kramer gets hooked on the food. The episode was inspired by a real-life New York lawyer who hung a "bad food" sign out his office window when he became tired of the lights and smells of the Kenny Rogers Roasters below him (per The Spokesman-Review).

Company spokesperson Randy Rogers said being part of "Seinfeld" was invaluable. "It costs a million dollars a minute to advertise on that show. And it didn't cost us a penny," he told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 1996. Company executives were so thrilled about "The Chicken Roaster" that they held an extravagant party for their employees the night the sitcom aired.

The real Kenny Rogers Roasters would only last a few years after the iconic episode. Amid increasing competition, the chain filed for bankruptcy in 1998, per Vice. The concept was sold and still operates restaurants in Asia.