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KFC, Disgraced Lawyers, and Tom Allen: It's Indiana Potluck Time!

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KFC Closes Dining Rooms At Corporate-Owned Franchises In Florida As Coronavirus Cases Surge
The KFC in Muncie, IN.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In honor of the Hoosiers’ signature accomplishment in 2019, we’re highlighting the greatest Things in Buckets that the state of Indiana has to offer!

Today, as it’s something I just learned today, we’ll start with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now you might be saying, “But MNW, you dunce, you’ve given Indiana a food most associated with their second-biggest rivals!”

However, Colonel Harlan Sanders himself actually hailed from Henryville, Indiana—he moved to Greenwood, just south of Indianapolis, in 1902, then New Albany in 1906, before moving into careers on the railroad and eventually as a lawyer in Little Rock until returning to Henryville to live with his mother after a courtroom brawl with his client thoroughly discredited him. (I’d love to see beez do this, to be honest.)

(1) Tell us your best (or worst) KFC story, writers. We know you’ve got one, so don’t bother lying. Did you try the Double Down? Get kicked out of the KFC Buffet for brawling? Shame-eat a whole box of Nashville Hot Chicken after your bachelor party?

(2) Who’s the innovator or entrepreneur that “got away” from your school or your state?

Candystripes: 1) So, back in the day, KFC hadn’t yet gotten smart and realized that people might like to have their chicken strips in a combo meal. They also charged an arm and a leg for a reasonable amount (my recollection suggests 4-6 as this amount) of said strips, so by the time you add on a family sized order of mashed potatoes and gravy, you were looking at somewhere north of $10 for a single meal for one teenaged C4B. This was something I ordered from them a greater than 5 number of times before someone finally figured out that not everyone wants only chicken pieces or a mediocre pot pie for a meal. Long story short, KFC was an expensive treat when I was young.

2) Can we count Abraham Lincoln for this, as kind of the reverse Colonel? Born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, eventually settled in and is usually claimed by Illinois, but there are still signs and or slogans somewhere that remind people that Indiana is “Lincoln’s boyhood home.”

pkloa: As detailed this morning (without knowing I’d be answering this question for the afternoon), one of my finest recipes includes KFC boneless, stuffing, Velveeta, and gravy. I think it’s fair to say that could be my best or worst story, depending on how low class you deem that combo to be.

How about I tell you the story of a young man who left the locale of his birth and raising, West Philadelphia, to become the most recognized royalty America has ever produced?

His life truly was flipped, turned upside-down, when bullies moved into the neighborhood. No longer could he spend most of his days on the playground. Shooting some b-ball outside of the school was now a dangerous proposition. Indeed, one fight was all it took for his mother to seek out a better life for her son, regardless of the pain their separation would cause the both of them. Fortune smiled upon the young man, as his uncle was fairly well-to-do in sunny California, and agreed to take him in.

That there was a culture shock should be no surprise. Imagine the surprise of our young hero as he escaped his hardscrabble past to discover a people so foreign from his own. The glam, the vanity, the accoutrements of even his first personal interaction in his new state, the taxicab driver who would deliver him to his new station in life. Apprehensions pushed aside, his story really begins as he ascends to his throne as the prince of Bel-Air.

Stew: In college a group of us came up with a competition we dubbed “The Competion” (someone misspelled it, and we liked it so we left it that way). It was an eating competition where you go to a KFC buffet and must eat 1 piece of every type of chicken (both original and extra crispy, sandwich portions, included) and one serving of every side. No one ever finished. Because holy crap that’s so much food. We were asked to leave one year because there was about a dozen of us and we had been in the KFC lobby for several hours. That no one ever puked in the KFC bathroom seems like a miracle in hindsight.

Jesse: I… I just don’t even know what to say right now. I’m not really a KFC person anyways I suppose. Popeyes for life, you know?

As for the second question, let’s roll with Evan Williams, the co-founder of blogger, co-founder of twitter, and founder of Medium. He spent a whopping year and half at Nebraska before dropping out of school.

babaoreally: 1) Eating a Double Down shortly after it came out felt like a real event. It was pretty good, but not amazing. I like the gimmick foods in general though.

2) I’m going to stick with my Hoosier brethren and go with Abe Lincoln. He grew up close to where I lived in Southern Indiana, in what is now called Lincoln City. His mom is buried there. There is even a short film that they show at the visitor’s center about Lincoln in Indiana that is narrated by Leonord Nimoy.

WSR: Did I have a Double Down? You’re damn right I did. In fact, I may be the reason it stayed on the market as long as it did. I even ate one right in the middle of a management meeting I was forced to attend on my birthday. I will absolutely weaponize KFC, even if it is inferior to Popeyes.

No Minnesotan worth a damn has ever left the state. Some might escape and wander around for a while, like F. Scott Fitzgerald or John Madden, but the worthwhile innovators stay here.

BRT: I don’t have any epic KFC stories, so I will share my favorite discredited attorney story instead. His name was Clement Vallandigham, an Ohioan who was a thorn in the Lincoln administration’s side. Eventually, he was banished to Canada, where he ran a distance gubernatorial campaign. He also was involved with a plot to create a “Northwestern Confederacy” out of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky, and had he succeeded, this site would have a very different graphics scheme.

After the war, he did typical 19th century white guy things, like oppose Reconstruction. However, he also returned to his law practice, and in 1871, he met his end after going the extra mile (kind of) for a client. He was defending a man accused of shooting a man in a barroom brawl, and his defense rested on the claim that the deceased had instead accidentally shot himself in the stomach while attempting to unholster his own gun. #Merica Meeting with his fellow defense attorneys, Vallandigham sought to demonstrate how such an accidental shooting might occur, and went so far as to leave his gun loaded… and to mortally shoot himself in the stomach. Unfortunately for Vallandigham, he died the next day, but fortunately for his client, the jury found this a compelling explanation for the crime, and acquitted him (though he was killed four years later in another saloon shooting, because… #Merica).

MNW: Holy shit, I love me a good Copperhead story! Listen to this history professor ^^^

As far as the KFC story goes, I am one of the three stories listed in the prompt. I would like you all to guess which one I am.

Indiana finally turned that corner under Tom Allen in 2019, losing all its regular-season games to four then-ranked teams (#6 OSU, #25 MSU, #9 PSU, #13 Michigan) before...well, just plain forgetting to put on a hands team in a one-score game against Tennessee. Inexcusable, but something that shouldn’t totally distract from what a strong season it was for Indiana—just their sixth 8-win season in the modern era (John Pont won 9 in 1967, then Bill Mallory collected three and Lee Corso chipped in one as well).

More germane to the on-field performance, Indiana took advantage of its (evidently weak) crossover schedule: a win AT Lincoln, a pasting of Northwestern, and a 2OT escape for the Bucket paired with wins over Rutgers and Maryland did the trick. A one-score loss to Penn State and a glorified 3-point loss to Michigan State implied, though, that Indiana’s ceiling could’ve been much higher. So tell us, writers:

(1) Is this the start of something bigger under Tom Allen? What about his job in turning around the Hoosiers football program really stands out to you?

(2) Tell us about the biggest coaching blunder you’ve witnessed for your team—preferably in a bowl game.

Candystripes: 1) I think it actually could be, yes. This is the winningest football season Indiana has had in literal decades, and as long as that momentum isn’t completely squandered in the next year or two, it gives you hope that maybe, just maybe, 8 win seasons could become the norm, rather than a twice in a lifetime aberration. The thing that Tom Allen is doing that has historically been impossible is convincing well-regarded recruits that playing football in Bloomington is not only a good choice, but a choice that they should make. The culture around the program is welcoming, and it seems to only get stronger by the day.

2) ....No, I don’t think I will.

Stew: I really did not think that Allen was able to pull that off. And when I brought up my doubts about Allen during last offseason, I was told that not only did he have one of the better starts to any coaching tenure in Indiana history, he was also recruiting at a near historic level for Indiana. Low bar, yes, but still, he does seem to be raising the floor. However, I’m not sure it’s going to get much bigger. Staying the same, though? That’s a pretty big deal, and nothing to sneeze at.

Iowa coaching blunders? In a bowl game?? Boy, I don’t know about that. Seems like that would never happen. I guess if I would have to pick, it might be somehow getting the ROSE BOWL game cancelled. Not sure why you’d ever make that decision.

Jesse: 1) Props to Allen. I don’t think he was necessarily in the greatest of situations initially, but he’s gotten Indiana to about a good as place as anyone can expect. It’s a fairly well-coached team that has an understanding of what it’s trying to do, plus he seems to be recruiting the right kids for his system. Those aren’t easy things when you’re competing with schools that traditionally have more money, pull, etc. As for biggest blunder? I dunno… Bowl game wise Nebraska generally doesn’t lose on a blunder. It’s more of a “OMG YOU GOT BEAT BY HOW MANY?!?!” or a tight win in spite of itself. I guess the worse in recent memory is that time Riley decided to let his team run RPO when all you needed to do is let the clock run out and then Armstrong threw the damn football. That was against like, Illinois or something? Ugh, football has been dumb for a while.

WSR: 1) Yeah, like many others I wasn’t convinced that Allen’s the answer. But you know what? He’s got a couple pretty nice pieces on offense, and the defense isn’t hot trash. Maybe they can stay where they are now, which is improvement in the broad sense of the word. Go on and have fun, Hoosiers.

2) Just one? Well if I have to only pick one, let’s take a voyage back to the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. Texas Tech just scored to tie the game at 31, and noted conservative Minnesota coach Jerry Kill sends his offense out onto the field with 66 seconds left at their own 30 yard line. So he’s playing for OT, right? Ummmmmm…..

1st down: Philip Nelson fumbles the snap, almost gets sacked, and then tries to throw through the helmet of WR Devin Crawford-Tufts. 2nd down: Nelson picks the snap up off the ground, and this time decides to run. He gets 3 yards, TTU calls their 2nd timeout with 55 seconds left. The obvious solution for 3rd down is to run the ball, make Tech burn their last TO, be B1G and punt the shit out of the ball to make them march down the field, right? Right?

Jerry, you dumbass. (embed: https://youtu.be/0HEtR4tdx40?t=9123)

BRT: Allen seems to have stumbled upon a pretty good recipe for success in the B1G East: win all of your games against the West, and Maryland and Rutgers. In a division that’s tough to make a lot of upward progress, this is a good recipe for staying bowl eligible, which as far as I can tell, is really all that Indiana fans ever hope for.

Blunders? Tom Osborne going for two. ;)

MNW: I am both in awe of and still cringing at Tom Allen, who has all the charisma of a youth pastor 25 years beyond his expiration date and the offensive tactical nous of Pat Fitzgerald after a sugary box of apple juice. But goddamn if he didn’t find a way to do it, both nodding to Indiana’s Fun Offense Tradition with Michael Penix Jr. (and now-Wildcat Peyton Ramsey, we gotta say) and actually building a competent defense in Bloomington. It’s outstanding, and I am relatively happy for Indiana fan.

I will not call Pat Fitzgerald’s decision to go for the game-winning score in the 2010 Outback Bowl a “mistake”. Northwestern was getting out-athleted by Auburn, and while the playcall was not ideal, I respect the hustle. Can you imagine if the ‘Cats would’ve broken the bowl streak on a trick play against a hostile SEC crowd? Dear God.

Instead, let’s dial back the clock to the 2008 Alamo Bowl, in which the ‘Cats met the Missouri Tigers and, with a 10-3 lead just a minute before halftime, decided to have rugby-style kicker Stefan Demos punt to Jeremy Maclin. The speedster ran it back 75 yards, tied it up, and the Northwestern momentum broke.