Here’s How They Made Fried Chicken in the 18th Century

By Mike Pomranz |

Thanks to the prevalence of deep fryers in fast food restaurants, we tend to think of deep frying in modern terms. And it’s certainly a cooking technique that has been exploited in recent history thanks to people hawking everything from deep-fried Twinkies to deep-fried water. But as demonstrated on the YouTube channel for Jas. Townsend and Son, a retailer specializing in reproducing goods from the 18th and 19th centuries, modern Americans weren’t the first people to figure out that things taste awesome when you deep-fried them in fat.


In the video above, host Jonathan Townsend walks us through a recipe for fried chicken taken from a cookbook originally published in England in 1736 – Nathan Bailey’s Dictionarium Domesticum. Bailey specialized more in dictionaries than he did in cookbooks, meaning he was more Noah Webster than Rachel Ray. And indeed, as Townsend states, Bailey’s cookbook is a bit weird and is “set up like a dictionary.” Still, that doesn’t mean Bailey didn’t know a good fried chicken recipe when he saw one, and after Townsend fries up his bird in a traditional cauldron over an open fire, he says, “I love [this recipe] and I think everyone should try it.” And since most of us don’t have a spare cauldron laying around, Jas. Townsend even has a couple cast iron pots I’m sure they’d be happy to sell you.

The final chicken certainly looks good, but where’s the 18th century gravy? Or what about the 18th century mac and cheese? At the very least, can you super-size me to an 18th century large soda?


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