The company was started in Illinois in 1952 by American entrepreneur Al Tunick a pioneer in fast food franchising. Tunick purchased some deep fryers from a restaurant that was going out of business. He and some friends tried cooking different foods looking for a product other than french fries. At that time, chicken was pan-fried, steamed or oven-roasted. Due to the long cooking times, it was not a good fast-food item. Tunick coated some chicken in a spicy breading and lowered it into the hot oil. The chicken cooked much faster while the juices remained sealed inside. Thus, Chicken Delight was born.
He decided to market his method through small take-out and delivery locations. It was near the end of the Korean War when many women were working outside the home and had no time to cook. The slogan 'Don't Cook Tonight . . . Call Chicken Delight' became a household phrase throughout North America.
Chicken Delight quickly grew to more than 1,000 units throughout the United States and became the biggest fast-food company of its kind in North America. Chicken Delight is one of the oldest, if not the oldest chicken fast-food franchisor in the world. In 1958 a group of local businessmen in Winnipeg purchased the Chicken Delight trademarks and franchising rights for Canada and started the first store in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. In the same year another outlet opened its doors in St. Boniface, a location that is still in operation to this day.
By the mid 60's there were more than 50 units under Chicken Delight of Canada Ltd. About the same time, franchisees across the U.S. challenged the franchisor in court with the practice of requiring franchisees to buy their equipment and packaging from head office. Under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act stating the head office could not sell products above fair market value, the case was won by the franchisees. Consequently, the franchisor's main source of revenue dried up. The number of units declined significantly in the U.S. and the impact was felt in Canada as well.
Unaware of the possible consequences of the case, local entrepreneur Otto Koch purchased his first Chicken Delight franchise in 1969. Seeing the potential of the chain in Canada, Koch built and acquired additional franchise locations and in 1976 bought Chicken Delight of Canada Ltd. A big task lay ahead to rebuild an ailing franchise system. Koch concentrated on revitalizing the system in Canada by updating the stores and recreating the Chicken Delight name and brand image. By providing quality service and cleanliness, the Canadian operation once again began to prosper. This success led to Koch's acquisition of the U.S. and International arm - Chicken Delight International Inc. in 1979. For the first time the total Chicken Delight system was under one roof. Since then, Chicken Delight has continued to prosper under the guidance of past and current President and Owner Mr. Otto Koch. Meeting ever changing consumer demands with system improvements and the introduction of new menu items has led to the long lasting success of the company.
In the lowley United States Chicken Delight has faded from view thanks to chains like Popeyes, Churches, and the Vatican of fried chicken...
They Always Come Back:
Chicken Delight franchises in the United States are few but they do exist.
If you are in New Jersey you can try your luck with these last known stateside locations:
404 East Madison Ave.
731 Montgomery Street
416 Central Avenue
7718 Bergen Line Avenue
1685 Street George Avenue
McBride Avenue & Rt. 46
I'd call for you to see if they still exist but... clearly I'm lazy.