Home of the original.

Spanky's Original Chicken Fingers
Credit: Courtesy of Live Oak Restaurant Group

Chicken fingers—or chicken strips or chicken tenders, if you prefer—are on menus all across the South for one very good reason—people love them. The proof of that lies in the lines that stretch out each lunchtime at Chick-Fil-A, KFC, Bojangles, PDQ, and Popeyes, who have all built empires on the backs of the lowly chicken strip. True Southern fans of chicken fingers, though, know that to find the best chicken strips around, you can step out of the line at Popeyes and head to a Savannah pizza joint instead.

Spanky's Pizza Galley and Saloon on River Street in Savannah opened its doors in 1976, taking its name from the TV series, The Little Rascals. While the three friends— Ansley Williams and brothers Alben Yarbrough and Dusty Yarbrough— opened the restaurant knowing they wanted to serve up half-pound burgers and pizza, because at the time no one was serving pizza in downtown Savannah, according to an interview they did with Savannah Now. Soon, the burgers and pizza were outshone by a new arrival on the menu, chicken fingers. Or as the menu now puts it: The Original Chicken Fingers.

When the owners were devising a recipe for a chicken sandwich to add to the menu, they quickly realized that the chicken breasts were too big. So they cut off bits of the chicken to make a good sandwich, using the extra to make chicken salad and add to other items.

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According to Savannah Now Alben decided to take the leftover chicken bits, douse them in a special batter, and deep fry them and add them to the menu. Just like that chicken fingers were born. They were a hit, and soon enough the guys had to buy a full-size fryer to keep up with demand. The chicken fingers have been a staple on the Spanky's menu ever since.

While who actually invented the chicken finger is always up for debate, Spanky's was actually recognized by Congress for being the first. Regardless, one thing is for sure: Spanky's was serving up the South's best Chicken Finger biscuit well before people were lining up at Popeyes.