Chicken Delight has a colorful and important place in North American fast-food history.
Our roots go all the way back to 1952 Illinois, when entrepreneur and fast food franchising pioneer Al Tunick purchased some deep fryers from a restaurant that was going out of business.
Looking for a product other than fries, he and some friends tried cooking different foods until they landed on chicken – which, until then had been pan-fried, steamed or oven roasted and due to long cooking times had not been a good fast-food item.
Tunick coated some chicken in a spicy breading and lowered it into the hot oil, cooking it in a flash and sealing the juices inside.
From that, Chicken Delight was born.
Tunic marketed his method through small take-out and delivery locations. As this was all happening near the end of the Korean War, 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 outlets throughout the United States and became the biggest fast-food company of its kind in North America.
Then 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.
Winnipeg 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.
By providing quality service and cleanliness, the Canadian operation prospered. 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. Otto Koch passed away in December 2010 – but that wasn’t the end for Chicken Delight.
Winnipeg couple Jim and Nadine Cartman became the new owners of Chicken Delight in June 2012.
Under their leadership, Chicken Delight is now undergoing a brand refresh with focus on renovating existing stores, adding new menu items and improving customer service. The Cartmans and their team keep a close eye on the marketplace and are constantly looking to expand Chicken Delight through franchising.