Hot Chicken's Spicy Story

Andre Jeffries, famed Prince’s Hot Chicken restaurateur, shares the inside scoop behind Nashville's specialty chicken.

Alan Poizner/The Washington Post/Getty Images

In preparation for our upcoming Anniversary weekend in Nashville, we decided to get to the bottom of the Hot Chicken phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation. We called on Andre Jeffries, famed Prince’s Hot Chicken restaurateur, to give us the scoop.

It all started in Nashville in the 1930s with Thornton J. Prince III—a handsome, tall, good-looking man according to Andre Prince Jeffries (his great niece who is currently at the helm of the restaurant). “Thornton was a real womanizer back in his day. He’d been married four or five times...had plenty of women…at least that’s what’s alleged.”

As the story goes, one of his ladies found out he’d been running around and decided to teach him a lesson. Instead of serving up her typical fried chicken, she’d give him something he’d never forget. She added the spiciest seasonings she could get her hands on to that fried chicken ensuring that it was anything but edible. Thornton took a bite and rather than scream in agony (much like most of us hot chicken-amateurs do), he loved it.

And then hot chicken was born. Andre Jeffries carries on the tradition today. Originally called, “BBQ Chicken Shack,” Jeffries changed the name to “Prince’s Hot Chicken,” to incorporate their family name but also, as Jeffries states, “to let people know what to expect.”

“You’d be surprised. More women eat the chicken extra hot than men,” she said. “I think we can take the heat…handle the pain. Maybe it’s because of childbirth. Men try it hot but they always come back down. Women maintain. They should do a study on that…”

As for taming the heat, Jeffries recommends pairing the chicken with something sweet. She prefers Nashville-based Cupcake Collection’s Sweet Potato Cupcake. “Most people drink lemonade and that seems to help. But not pickles…those don’t help.”

Meet Andre in person alongside SL Editor-in-Chief Sid Evans and Executive Editor Krissy Tiglias on September 3rd as part of our 50th Anniversary celebration in Nashville. We’ve paired notable Nashville hot chicken restaurants with some of the top local craft breweries for the ultimate foodie experience. For details, go to visitmusiccity.com/nashvillenow.

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