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Taste the Difference in Kentucky

Students from a historic small liberal arts college dish up cornbread souffle as an appetizer. Groups eat “finger lickin good’” fried chicken in the place where Colonel Sanders perfected his secret recipe. Dessert is served in an antebellum inn run by five generations of the same family. Kentucky offers a delicious menu of distinctive culinary delights in equally distinctive venues.

Fried Chicken

Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum, Corbin

Although there are arguments over what is the best fried chicken, there is no question about who indelibly linked Kentucky with the Southern staple. Harland Sanders perfected his “secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices” at his Corbin restaurant in the 1930s before developing a franchise system for what became internationally famous Kentucky Fried Chicken, with Colonel Sanders in his white suit, string bow tie and goatee as its iconic symbol.

Sanders began serving travelers along U.S. 25 meals at the dining table in the back of his service station and later built a cafe across the road. After a fire destroyed his original cafe, Sanders built a new restaurant and motel in 1940.

Today, groups can chow down on a meal of fried chicken cooked with the Colonel’s recipe at a modern KFC — as Kentucky Fried Chicken is now known — attached to his original cafe, which contains a small museum.

“It’s a history of how Colonel Sanders got his start,” said Maggy Kriebel, director of the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission. “The location is where he refined the process.”

The museum contains memorabilia and artifacts, including items such as Sanders’ desk and cash register, original utensils and menus, and tables and chairs set up like the original.

“A cool thing is the statue of the colonel seated on a bench outside,” said Kriebel. “People can sit and get their picture taken with the colonel.”

A new six-foot statue of Colonel Sanders was dedicated in August at the new Sanders Park in downtown Corbin.

Beer Cheese


After the Kentucky Legislature declared Winchester and Clark County as the official birthplace of beer cheese, the local tourism commission looked for ways to take advantage of the designation.

“Beer cheese was developed right here in Clark County at the old Allman’s Restaurant, where it was first served in the 1930s or ’40s,” said Nancy Turner, director of the Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission. “So what could we do to hang our hat on that?”

What they did was develop the Winchester Beer Cheese Trail, which links eight local restaurants that each make their own distinctive brand of the beer-flavored cheese spread.

“Beer cheese is typically a sharp cheddar spreadable cheese flavored with beer, cayenne pepper, garlic and other spices,” said Turner. “Each has its own individual recipe prepared right there. Each stop is completely different.”

All the restaurants are motorcoach accessible, and each is distinctive, from sports bars to a historic restaurant overlooking the Kentucky River. One is located in an old country store, another in a former 1830s post office.

Winchester also celebrates its local favorite at the Beer Cheese Festival the second Saturday of June. “You can eat as much beer cheese as you can handle,” said Turner.

Beer cheese is often served with another locally developed product, Ale-8-One soft drink. “It is a very unique ginger soda,” said Turner. “It is not like ginger ale.”

Only four people in the family-owned business, which offers tours of its Winchester bottling plant, know the drink’s recipe.