In the 1950s, Indiana-born Lee Cummings went on the road with his Indiana-born uncle, and the two of them sold a unique blend of herbs and spices, pressure cookers, and entire chicken franchises. Within three years, the pair had opened 800 new Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. When Cumming’s uncle, Harland ‘Not Actually From Kentucky’ Sanders, ultimately decided to sell his grease-stained empire, the younger man decided to take some of those same spices and family secrets and open his own chicken restaurant.
He introduced his “Famous Recipe” chicken at Harold’s Take Home Restaurant, which he opened with his brother-in-law in 1966. Fifty-three years later, his original bestseller—a box containing three pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, slaw, and a biscuit—is still on the menu. The restaurant has been renamed Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, though, and now there are more than 130 of them. According to some reviewers, Lee’s chicken is better than his uncle’s, and according to one Kentucky fisherman, the biscuits can help you land a huge goddamn goldfish.
Hunter Anderson and his girlfriend were driving through Boyle County, Kentucky last weekend, when they passed a pond that he’d heard had some big koi and goldfish in it. “She said ‘I wanna see,’ [and I] turned the car around,” he told MUNCHIES. “I had one Cashion Rod with me, and all I had for bait was a piece of a Lee’s Famous Recipe biscuit. I’ve heard of people catching carp on bread, so I put a piece of it on the hook the best I could.”
Anderson cast his line into the water and “the fight was on,” as he put it. Although he was on the bass fishing team at Eastern Kentucky University, he said the fish that he hooked that afternoon was a different kind of challenge. “It was one of the hardest fighting fish I’ve ever fought,” he said. “It never ever wanted to give up. I’m lucky I got it in. But I did and I was screaming and jumping up and down as I had never seen anything like it.”
Lori Seering, Vice President of Marketing at Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, praised Anderson’s fish—and, of course, his choice of bait. “Now, that’s a catch!” she told MUNCHIES in an email. “But we’re not surprised. It’s hard for anyone NOT to bite into a biscuit from Lee’s”
Anderson’s sister, Cassie, posted a picture of the fish, and it looks...exactly like a 20-pound goldfish. “This is my brother!! Who is holding what could possibly be that pet goldfish we flushed when I was 9!” she joked on Facebook. “I swear, I thought you were dead, Bubbles! Oh my gosh, don't flush your pets!”
OK, it’s definitely not the fish that was your class pet in elementary school, and some experts don’t think it’s a goldfish at all. Kevin Kelly, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, told USA Today that it looks like a kind of butterfly koi. (Goldfish and koi are both members of the carp family). He said that he and his colleagues believe it to be a koi because it looks like it has a barbel—a whisker-like organ—near its mouth.
Anderson said that he just took a couple of pictures with the fish, then put him (or her) back in the water. “It swim off just fine,” he said. “So maybe a kid can catch it some day and be as happy as I was.”
One tip, though, future fisher-kid: Bring a couple of Lee’s Famous biscuits with you.