We love Bill DeMain's writing at mental_floss. From his piece on Birth of the Cool, to last issue's description of Oklahoma!, he's got such a deft touch for writing about music. In this issue, though, he livened up our Scatterbrained section with a piece on Country Stars Who Got Burned by the Fast Food Business. My favorite is the story of Minnie Pearl, who started a fried chicken franchise without having a recipe for the food:
In 1967, Nashville attorney John Jay Hooker convinced Grand Ole Opry comedienne Minnie Pearl that she could sell more drumsticks than Colonel Sanders. After all, Minnie Pearl seemed like the sort of lady who'd have a good family recipe for fried chicken. Unfortunately, she didn't. But that didn't stop Hooker from selling franchises. Within no time, plans were in place for 300 restaurants and public stock was worth $64 million! Of course, no one seemed worried that there were only five restaurants actually operating and that no two franchises used the same recipe for their chicken. Customers complained about the varying quality, and it wasn't long before the restaurants began hemorrhaging money. By late 1971, an SEC investigation had put the nail in the coffin, and the last bird had been fried. Hooker spent decades living down the debacle, while Pearl continued to apologize to her fans for decades.
The other tales are even more zany, from Conway Twitty trying to sell burgers with pineapples on them to Kenny Rogers not being able to identify his own wings.