28 Days of Black Joy: Harold's Chicken Shack

A wing order at Harold’s Chicken Shack
A wing order at Harold’s Chicken Shack
Photo: Tonja Stidhum

In 1950, Harold Pierce decided to channel the divine power of a praying Black grandma and founded Harold’s Chicken Shack and introduced us to a uniquely seasoned bucket of freshly fried chicken, accompanied by a divine red-orange liquid creation.

That divine creation is called mild sauce (Yes, D.C., I will never miss the opportunity to tell you that you can thank Chicago for your derivative, Mumbo sauce). You thought the blood of Christ was wine? Naw, it’s mild sauce, G. In fact, one of the greatest compliments of my entire life was when a friend told me my voice sounded like “verbal mild sauce.” It’s currently in my Facebook bio.

Even the fights we have about Harold’s Chicken are derived from Black joy. Whether we’re fighting about which of the franchise locations is your personal location (the answer is 87th) or different Chicago areas in-fighting against Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken (I’m South Side, through and through so...), the prideful energy is strong.

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My love is so strong, so potent, that I have a lifetime grudge against Wale who once made the mistake and rapped, “We spend some time and get some wine have some milds from Harold’s I told her this here’s overrated but I love your city baby....” in his 2011 single with Chicago native Jeremih called “That Way.” *ahem* First of all, NOBODY SAYS “MILDS” WHEN REFERRING TO MILD SAUCE, ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT BLACK & MILDS??? ANYWAY, THAT ALONE DISQUALIFIES YOUR MINION OPINION.

Oh wait, this is supposed to be about joy...my bad. Let me lick off my fingers and continue...

Harold’s was my last meal before I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2015. I can now say that Harold’s Chicken Shack (an authentic one owned by Chicagoans, mind you!) is located in L.A. and it’s in the neighborhood I live in, because God is good, God great, let us thank him for this food.

My order? Six piece, fried hard, with mild sauce (sometimes I do hot and mild if I’m feeling sassy). Mmmmm, that shit fye. Because chicken. Because Black joy.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

Several years ago, I read some click bait article from some random pub with a youthful author who swore that Chicago was not known as a ‘chicken’ town and I was like, whaaa? Then they proceeded to highlight a dozen or so downtown and northside eateries for their wings and then I was like, ‘oh, he wasn’t writing this for the rest of the city’ and was apparently catering to those ‘transitioned’ Chicagoans. Fair enough.

87th street has consistently been good, yes. But I can also get with the 75th street location and being from the wild wild 100s, the 103rd and Halsted spot has been the legacy store for me and my peeps (and consistently good as well).

I did spend a lot of time on the real west side, though, and I’m not opposed to Uncle Remus. It’s good and they put a spot on 47th street in Bronzeville a few years ago that has done really well. At the end of the day, it’s all love.