Hot chicken: Nashville's local indelicacy

When it comes to chicken, some people definitely like it HOT, as our Jan Crawford has discovered:

At Hattie B’s in Nashville, the line goes down the block for what once was the city’s best-kept secret: Hot Chicken.

“I’m going to have the tenders, but I want them hot!” said one customer.

It’s an addictive combination of pleasure and pain: Fried chicken doused in cayenne and enough spices to make you sweat.

“Lemme tell ya’, I don’t know if this was a good move or not!” laughed Nick Bishop Sr. “I’m gonna start hiccups here in just a minute!”

Nick and his son, Nick Jr., are the owner of Hattie B’s. They fry up their chicken five ways, including Hot, Damn Hot, and Shut the Cluck Up.

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Some like it hot: Hot chicken, a fiery Nashville tradition born from the wrath of a wronged woman.

CBS News

Crawford asked, “Why do you think people want to eat things that cause them pain?”

“You kind of get high from it,” laughed Nick Jr.

Local legend has it hot chicken started more than 80 years ago with the family of Andre Prince Jeffries.

“Of course, it started with a woman,” laughed Jeffries. “My great-uncle Thorton Prince being, as they say, a womanizer.”

A womanizer who was cheating on his girlfriend. So she decided revenge was a dish best served HOT, and added some spices to his fried chicken.

“This woman was angry, so she wanted to let him know,” Jeffries said. “So she dashed something on that chicken.”

But he liked it? “He did! We assume that was the beginning. But it’s so sad that we don’t who she was.”

But her legacy lives on. Great-uncle Thorton started a restaurant using the girlfriend’s recipe, and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack still packs them in.

These days there’s competition -- even from some of the big boys: KFC has their own “spicy, smoky, crispy, Nashville hot chicken tenders.”

And for those with a stomach of steel, there’s the Death Row Chicken at Big Shake’s. Cooks actually have to wear gas masks, and brave participants in its regular “Death Row Challenge” must sign a waiver.

It’s no gimmick: Even a few bites burn.

But on the night Crawford was there, comedian Chad Riden kept asking for more … chewing his way to victory.

“There was a guy here who had, like, three bites and had to run out,” Crawford said.

“Amateur,” laughed Riden. “That’s just sad. Why did he even come?”

“But if he’s an amateur, what does that make you?”

“Oh, an idiot.”

And maybe that’s why when it comes to taking the heat, Andre Prince Jeffries -- the matriarch of the place that started it all -- has a confession: Of the different levels of heat, she prefers Mild. “I can’t tolerate anything hot!” she laughed.

      
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