-- Here's one more task to add to your bucket list. Fried-chicken bucket, that is.
"It’s the kind of story that people like making fun of, 'Why not go to the one around the corner?' Right?" said information technology consultant Brian Lutfy, 52, who masterminded the pilgrimage.
"But the idea was that it’s funny for our kids to be able to say 'I had KFC for the first time at the original restaurant' and provided context for a family road trip!"
When Lutfy's wife and daughter declined to participate in the journey, he recruited his pal of more than 35 years, Neil Janna, 51, to bring along his own two sons for a boys-only adventure.
"I'm a standup comedian in my spare time and a pretty crazy guy," admitted Janna. "So I’m willing to do anything for a laugh."
From the beginning, the families played up the absurdity of driving so far for chicken. Janna, who creates promotional gear for a living, created concert-like t-shirts for everyone to wear announcing all of the stops on their tour de poulet. A rotating KFC bucket was also strapped to the top of their van using a small motor for a disco ball.
"We laughed a lot, sang a lot of songs together, it was nice to really bond," said Janna.
Lutfy agreed: "What was nice was that the kids' phones and iPads went dead as soon we hit the states because our beta plans wouldn't work, and we were forced to go back to talking with one another," he said. "People have forgotten how to do things face to face. This way, the only internet time we had was limited to stops at hotels."
The trip took five days to complete, with driving time broken up by excursions to Harlan Sanders' birthplace in Henryville, Ind., his grave site in Louisville, Ky., and even the Yum! Brands headquarters, which owns KFC. Other, fast-food related stops included Tim Horton's and McDonald's. All were documented in short videos posted to a Facebook page detailing the trip for friends and family.
When the families finally sat down to their meal at the original Sanders Cafe, their fried chicken arrived not in cardboard buckets as with the majority of KFC locations, but on silver platters brought to the table.
It was also served free of charge.
"The manager wouldn’t let us pay after hearing about our trip, he was a really nice guy," said Janna. "We took a little tour of their mini museum there, where they have a kitchen that Sanders used to develop his 11 special herbs and spices blend. Then, after a few hours in Corbin, we turned around and headed back home."
Their stomachs full of comfort food and their albums packed with memories, the two friends consider the bonding time on the road well spent.
"Both of us have done trips over the years with our wives and kids, whether it was to the Caribbean or a cruise or wherever, and it’s nice to know that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun," said Lutfy. "This was by far the cheapest vacation we have ever done, yet we had a blast together."