It was the Greek philosopher and writer, Plutarch, who first posed the ancient conundrum of which came first, the chicken or the egg. With National Fried Chicken Day (July 6th) this month, I think the age-old question is worth considering when placed in the context of PFSbrands: which came first, the fried chicken or the egg? That is to say, did our amazing food products inspire PFSbrands into existence, or was there an entrepreneurial spark that existed first which gave life to our programs?
Though I’d love to say our unparalleled fried chicken recipe was passed down through four generations of Burchams, and one day I just decided to share it with the masses, that’s not the case. What was passed down, however, was a solid work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit. At a very young age, my father taught me how to mow grass, both with a push mower and a riding mower. By the age of eight, I was mowing by myself on the riding lawn mower, sitting on the front edge of the seat just so I could reach the pedals.
By age fourteen I took my drive, goals, and a few bucks and started my own lawn care business with my childhood best friend. Yep, business owner at age fourteen. When I was a young man finally in the workforce, I always had my eye out for something that would allow me to work for myself. Eventually, I ran across an advertisement that seemed interesting and potentially lucrative, and the company that would become PFSbrands officially incorporated on July 13, 1998. Our product? Coffee. That’s right, coffee.
I ended up with a total of 16 cappuccino machines and made a little extra income to supplement the pay from my real job. However, it was evident that the coffee business was not going to provide a solid source of income for my family. Eventually, the opportunity arose to create a branded chicken program for a handful of grocery and convenience stores, and Julie and I dove right in.
When we were trying to get our recipe nailed down, there was a lot of test cooking going on. We didn’t have a test kitchen back then, so imagine being in a local supermarket deli, just standing back there cooking in the fryer, and as the chicken comes out, you’re tasting your product against the competition. Is it any good? Are they different? The same? What can be tweaked to make it just as good, if not better? How does the color compare? How about the crispiness? We wanted to make the product better than our competitors which complicated things even more. I’m sure we went through well over 20 different formulations trying to get it right. And after 20 years of double-digit growth, I think it’s safe to say we struck on the right recipe.
So although there’s no uncontested answer to the original question, the extra-crispy version for PFSbrands has a clear winner: the egg of entrepreneurial spirit definitely came first!