General Question

ragingloli's avatar

What is the origin of the racist stereotype that black people are obsessed with fried chicken and watermelon?

Asked by ragingloli (47254points) June 28th, 2015

What is the first instance of this cliché being used?

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37 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

KFC’s Colonel Sanders might be responsible. From Kentucky.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Most americans love fried chicken and watermelon…& bbq. That’s the taste of freedom dammit.

osoraro's avatar

Good question.
Wikipedia on the Watermelon Sterotype

Not as much written on the fried chicken one

Darth_Algar's avatar


Nah, the stereotype pre-dates KFC by a good while. Besides, everyone knows that blacks eat at Popeye’s, not KFC.

talljasperman's avatar

@Darth_Algar I thought it was Churches chicken?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Nah, Mrs Winner’s

Blondesjon's avatar

I am unsure of this and also unsure of whether ”obsessed” is the correct term to use.

I think the stereotype is that black people ”love” fried chicken/watermelon and are ”obsessed” with fat, blonde white chicks.

deni's avatar

As far as I know there is a lot of soul food eating going on in the south and fried chicken is a popular component of that and also soul food = black people. None of this is a bad thing, soul food is one of my favorite types of food, but I think that’s where the stereotype comes from. Watermelon, who knows. I love watermelon. I actually threw up a bunch of watermelon yesterday and it was delightful.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Didn’t Tom Sawyer have his black protector stealing a watermelon in that story?

Fried chicken, fried everything, is a staple of Southern cooking.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I which I knew, I am not crazy about fried chicken, and i loathe watermelon.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Popeye’s and Church’s are pretty much the same (same ownership). It’s kinda like the Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr thing.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@deni You vomited watermelon and enjoyed it?

keobooks's avatar

@osoraro—the watermelon piece you posted was very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

This is what I heard growing up about the fried chicken. I heard it fits into the stereotype about stealing. It may have some validity, because the watermelon article had several references to blacks stealing chickens. It was not just a black stereotype. It was also a ‘white trash’ stereotype. If you read old Snuffy Smith cartoons, he was always stealing chickens. Why the chicken is always fried, I don’t know. My theory is that most southern and country people, hillbillies, and rednecks have a reputation for deep fat frying everything this was probably once a stereotype for poor rural people in general, and then became specific to black people.

I am very embarrassed to admit this. This afternoon we were having a backyard cookout. My daughter invited our new neighbors. I had watermelon already prepared before I found out they were coming. I almost wanted to hide it in the refrigerator when they arrived. For some reason I got suddenly self conscious about serving it and offending it to them. I ended up just having it on the table, but I didn’t point it out or ask anyone if they wanted it.

I felt like a total redneck that this bothered me at all.

jaytkay's avatar

southern and country people, hillbillies, and rednecks have a reputation for deep fat frying everything

A well earned reputation.

I had some Mississippi roommates, a married couple. To make dinner, the wife would put four pans of deep fat on the four-burner stove. All of them going simultaneously. We ate deep fried EVERYTHING.

I was eighteen, with the palate and metabolism of a teenager, and she did all the cooking so I wasn’t complaining.

Though I did complain when we left the apartment. I had to clean the kitchen and there was a half inch grease layer under the stove.

deni's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Enjoyed it in a relative way with regard to other vomits I’ve experienced. A few years ago I threw up and had only eaten a banana – same deal. It’s not that bad….and when I say that ITS STILL HORRIBLE CAUSE ITS VOMIT but its much better.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@deni Lol :D I just wanted to be sure that wasn’t autocorrect or something. I also love watermelon and I’ve eaten so much before I felt like throwing up. But yeah, there are worse things in the world that pure watermelon vomit. ;)

dxs's avatar

This is the first time I’ve heard that there was a stereotype for black people liking watermelon. I am quite white, so that might explain some of it.

LostInParadise's avatar

Watermelon originated in Africa. According to the history section in this article, they may have been introduced to the United States by slaves, although they were already in use in other parts of the world. This could account for the association between blacks and watermelons, though not justifying the stereotype.

keobooks's avatar

Here is a very interesting article about fried chicken. It also includes a little bit about watermelons at the end.

2davidc8's avatar

I had some inkling of the association of blacks with fried chicken and watermelon, but I didn’t know it was that strong. Many years ago, when Tiger Woods first appeared on the golf scene and he won a tournament by huge margin, one of the other golfers was envious and caused a ruckus when he mentioned fried chicken and watermelon.
But I have a different story involving watermelon. About ten years ago, a group of us went on a grand tour of China. About half the group were Asian and the other half white. The tour covered all the major touristy sites, you know, Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, Summer Palace, Great Wall, terracotta warriors, Beijing, Dalian, Chengdu, Shanghai, etc., etc. At practically every meal we were served watermelon for dessert! Near the end of the trip, we were like, “What’s up with that?”

kritiper's avatar

For the poor, chicken and watermelon don’t cost that much and everybody likes eating them.

RocketGuy's avatar

I like eating them…

bestbroseph's avatar

@ragingloli you have to remember who invented deep fried chicken. Poor slaves and later free slaves made it first. Along with creamed corn, cornbread, ham hocks, and other “soul foods” KFCs idea was to make fried chicken in a special cooker. Watermelons are because even back then they were inexpensive, and easy to find, as with less to do, farming was a staple occupation. But poor slaves had to make do with what they had, so they improvised with field corn and such. Sorry if any spelling is wrong, I’m on mobile.

bestbroseph's avatar

Also they fried it in leftover animal fat

Darth_Algar's avatar

Well I’m not sure who first started frying chicken, but cornbread was being made at least as early as the early European settlers, who learned of it from the Native Americans.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Corn is originally from Mexico.

Darth_Algar's avatar

^^ Yes, it’s believed to have been first cultivated in southeast Mexico, but by the time of Columbus had spread across most of North America.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wild corn. OMG! GMO! That was kinda cool, using the same letters for both “comments.” I think there is something spiritual in that. It must be A SIGN!.

Darth_Algar's avatar

^^ You ok there?

RocketGuy's avatar

Watermelon is a really low cost fruit that has a high water content – ideal for people who have worked hard for little money.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Just having a religious epiphany, @Darth_Algar. The JW’s would have had one, realizing that OMG, and GMO use the same letters. It would be proof that GMO’s are EVIL.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Okay then…..

Dutchess_III's avatar

Seriously @Darth_Algar. My daughter’s mother’s parents (Ok, so I adopted her when she was little) anyway, her bio grandparents were JW’s and one of the few times they ever saw her, they had her convinced that SANTA=SATAN because all you had to do was switch a few letters around to make SATAN out of SANTA, and that was proof that Christmas is evil.
I said, “Daughter, what is GOD spelled back ward? Right. So does that make God a dog? No, of course not.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

They were idiots. What can I say.

bestbroseph's avatar

I meant conventional corn bread. Corn meal has been around for a long time, and corn tortillas came first. But I meant corn bread from field corn

Darth_Algar's avatar


Yes, and conventional cornbread is first attested to among early European settlers and Natives, not among black slaves.

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