Kenny Rogers wasn’t the first country star to try to break into the chicken game, at least if comedians count. In 1966, Sarah Ophelia Colley — better known to fans as Grand Ole Opry comedian Minnie Pearl — lent her name to a chain of chicken restaurants founded by Nashville attorney John Jay Hooker.
At its peak in the late ’60s, Minnie Pearl’s boasted 567 locations and 2700 franchises, making it one of the most famous restaurant chains in the business. Unfortunately, success was short-lived, and the chain was through by the end of the decade. A major reason was that there was no standard chicken recipe between locations, meaning the food tasted different every time — thus, no signature “Minnie Pearl” flavor. However, the more direct cause was a lawsuit brought against the company after it was forced to re-report its taxes for 1968, revealing a $1 million loss.