Famous Foods From Kentucky

The world over, people are popping foods into their mouths and chugging drinks without a thought as to where those famous creations come from. Well, Kentuckians know! Without us, some of those foods and drinks you love so well simply wouldn't exist. Take a trip around the state and find out where your favorite fast food, fiery spirit, and quenching ale made their world-wide debut. Get a full tank of gas before you head out because this trip will take you from the bottom of the state to the very top, with delicious taste stops in between.

1. KFC
No fast food aficionado worth his weight in salt doesn't know or hasn't eaten at KFC, formerly and better known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. It's named after Kentucky because that is where Colonel Sanders (yes, he was a real guy who dressed just like those new commercialized versions of him on TV show) first made that genuine goodness. Colonel Harland Sanders worked for years to perfect his fried chicken recipe before unveiling it to the public at his first restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, in 1930. That site still sells that original recipe chicken and has morphed into a mecca for fried food addicts. The Harland Sanders Café and Museum might still sell the food, but don't look in the glass cases for copies of that recipe. It is a closely-held secret.

2. Chocolate Ruths
When Kentucky decides to do something, it doesn't give in halves. Instead, it gives you a double helping of what you like best. When discussing chocolate, there are two Ruths to discuss. The first is Rebecca Ruth Chocolates in Frankfort, Kentucky, where guests can tour the factory and taste some of the products. This candy shop originally opened in 1919 and was the brainchild of two women, Ruth Handley Booe and Rebecca Gooch. The two made a lot of candies, but their claim to fame was the creation of the world's first bourbon ball chocolate candies. While you can get these candies, elsewhere, the original recipe is still under lock and key. While one such Ruth is enough to make any state proud, Kentucky has another with equal claim to fame for chocolate goodness. Ruth Hunt Candy Company in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, started business in 1921. Ruth Hunt's claim to fame was her Blue Monday Bar, still made and sold today at this location where you can take a tour and sample that creamy confection.

3. Ale81
While you're in this part of the state, swing by Winchester, Kentucky, and take a plant tour of Kentucky's premier soft drink, Ale 8-One. This is the only soft drink invented in Kentucky that is still in existence. After trying its spicy soda bubbles, you'll definitely have a new favorite. Ale81 has been a Kentucky favorite since 1926. While little has changed since then, Kentuckians are happy about that. After all, once something is this good, why change it?

4. Bourbon
If you're wanting something a bit stronger than tame soda, then you've definitely met your match with world-famous bourbon. Kentucky has long been known for this tasty treat, but is it really possible to know who first invented it? Legend says that that golden concoction was actually created by a man of the cloth, Elijah Craig, who has since become known as the "Father of Bourbon". It was his idea to use charred barrels to distill liquor. What came out on the other side was something never seen before and treasured ever since. If you'd like to know the history of Kentucky's unofficial drink, head over to Heaven Hill Distilleries and Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, Kentucky. Here, you can take a factory tour, read all about the history of bourbon in the museum, and take a tasting belly up to the world's largest barrel bar, including a taste of Elijah Craig bourbon.

5. Modjeska
These caramel-dipped marshmallow treats were created in Louisville in 1883 and named for actress Helena Modjeska, who was appearing in a play in Louisville at the time. At least, that's what the legend says. What is a sure thing is that you can still buy these candies made the original, old-fashioned way by one candymaker who claims to have started the craze-Muth's Candies in downtown Louisville. Chocolate from Muth's is a Louisville holiday tradition, but you don't have to wait for cold weather to enjoy. Come to the store for youself and bring a big appetite because Modjeskas are just the tip of the candy-coated igloo here.

So, what are you waiting for? There's a whole world out there for you to explore!

CC Thomas is a freelance writer and Kentucky native who is always up for new adventure.

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