Bob Fogg knew he had hit the jackpot when he fell for his future wife Pat - as she lived near the UK’s first ever KFC in Preston.
They met at university in Warrington and Bob soon discovered that Pat’s hometown was the place of Britain’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
Bob was already a frequent visitor to Preston as a fan of the KFC secret recipe, and introduced it to Pat whilst they were courting.
The lovebirds joined former employees of the famous chain in Fishergate last week, to celebrate the restaurant’s 50th anniversary.
Pat, who has been married to Bob for 44 years, explained: “I knew nothing about KFC but once we got together, he would forever be asking if we could visit my family in Preston.
“It never clicked with me that it was KFC which was the attraction!”
I’ve never lived it down. It’s a running joke with the family that if it wasn’t for KFC, we wouldn’t be together.Bob Fogg
Bob added: “I’ve never lived it down. It’s a running joke with the family that if it wasn’t for KFC, we wouldn’t be together.
“I used to come to Preston from Warrington to fish with a few lads at the Ribble.
“We heard the KFC had just opened and we didn’t know that it had come from America, but we thought we’d try it out.
“That was it then - we’d had nothing like it before. It was brilliant; we would spend the day fishing, then go to the nightclubs and then to KFC.”
The couple’s favourite take-out even played a part in their romantic honeymoon, as Pat reveals: “We were eating KFC and listening to the radio when we heard about a deal to go to Paris for a few nights, with Champagne in the Eiffel Tower, a visit to the Moulin Rouge, flights and evening meals, all for £55!”
The couple ended up moving to Preston and went on to have two children and two grandchildren, with one more on the way. Former employees Christine Brewer and Georgia Moon also enjoyed reminiscing about their days behind the counter, when they came together at the special reunion last week.
Georgia, who was 20 at the time and lived with a couple of friends in a flat in Bairstow Street, worked there part time from 1971 to 1973. She said: “People used to come in after going to the ABC cinema; it was very popular and a real treat.
“We got a few freebies, but all they did in those days was the chicken, chips, coleslaw, beans and gravy.
“I remember once that some homeless people came in and they ate the lot - bones and all!
“We had some adventures and some good fun. I remember the customers could see our feet from under the counter and one woman was laughing at my green-painted toenails.”
Christine worked there between 1972 and 1973, when she was 15.
“It was such a palaver to make the chicken,” she revealed. “You had to dip the chicken in an egg mixture and then into the special recipe mix, which came in bags so I still don’t know what the ingredients are!
“Then you had to drop it into the boiling hot fat. They had massive big pressure cooker pans.We made the coleslaw from scratch and had to make great big bowls of it in the basement, which is where the fridges were.
“The cooking was done in the back - customers couldn’t see into the kitchen like they can today.”
She added: “It was decent money but hard work. I used to save my money from there to go on holiday; we used to go to Spain.”
Earlier this year there were rumours that the Fishergate restaurant was set to close, but regional manager Tim Adkins assured that the city’s KFC is here to stay.
He joined the team last November and admitted that he didn’t know that Preston’s was the first in Britain, and that he hadn’t tried the gravy until taking on the top job.
“I don’t know why Preston was chosen to be the UK’s first,” he added. “I can’t imagine that Colonel Sanders had heard about Preston and wanted to come here, but someone was obviously instrumental in bringing Kentucky Fried Chicken to Preston.
“I don’t think anyone in the UK knows the secret recipe though. It was perfected all those years ago and it’s still a closely-guarded secret.”
He added: “I’ve always liked KFC but I’d never had the gravy before I came to Preston. I’m from the Midlands and they don’t do gravy in chippies. They do it at all KFCs, but it wasn’t the obvious choice for me. Now I know what I’ve been missing all these years. Once you’ve tried it, you’re a convert for life!”
From Kentucky to Preston: The KFC timeline from its humble launch to the giant worldwide sensation it is today:
• 1930 Harland Saunders opens his first restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky in front room of gas station.
• 1940 Colonel perfected unique blend of 11 herbs and spices that are still used today.
• 1952 First KFC franchise opened in Salt Lake City with payment of nickel to Sanders for each chicken sold.
• 1957 Another icon was born, the KFC ‘Bucket o’ Chicken’.
• 1964 KFC had more than 600 franchised outlets and Sanders sold his interest for $2m.
• 1965 The UK’s first KFC is launched in Preston.
• 1975 There were more than 400 outlets across UK.
• 1979 There were around 6,000 KFC restaurants worldwide with sales of more than $2 billion.
• 1980 Colonel Saunders died from leukemia at the age of 90
• 2015 The brand’s 50th anniversary in the UK and 75 years of the secret recipe.