Quesa-don’t

Sorry, KFC. Better luck next time.

John I. Carney
3 min readJun 13, 2024

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Photo of one wedge of a KFC quesadilla

I learned yesterday that the KFC in Shelbyville, Tennessee, is one of 51 KFC locations in four states (Tennessee, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) test marketing a new menu item: the quesadilla.

Shelbyville has a long history with KFC. The Saddle Restaurant in Shelbyville was only the second restaurant in Tennessee to carry Kentucky Fried Chicken, back when it was a menu item carried by pre-existing, general-service restaurants. The Freys, who owned the restaurant, shook hands personally with Col. Harlan Sanders, who was signing up franchisees himself. I interviewed the Freys back in the mid-1980s, in my first year or two as a cub reporter at the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, after a little item about the Saddle Restaurant popped up in the magazine sent out to people who had bought new Fords.

The current KFC in Shelbyville was a favorite of Little Richard, believe it or not. Little Richard spent his later years in Lynchburg, Tennessee, best known as the home of the Jack Daniel Distillery. Lynchburg is a very small town, and its only fast food restaurant is a Subway, and they might not have even had that at the time. So Little Richard and his party would sometimes venture out to the KFC in Shelbyville. I never saw him myself but have talked to many who did, and they said he was always polite to anyone who…

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John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at http://www.lakeneuron.com/dislike