The Whitehouse website asserts that Barberton, Ohio is The Chicken Capital of the World. In the small city of some 25,000 people, 7-1/2 tons of chicken are dished out every week by four different chicken dinner halls to which eaters travel from hours away. The restaurants all have a similar menu. Chicken, fried in lard so it develops a wicked red-gold crust, is served with spicy tomato-rice, French fries, and vinegar-spiked cole slaw. The ritual meal was first developed at Belgrade Gardens, and today, Whitehouse Chicken, with four Ohio branches beyond this original Barberton location, is one of its leading purveyors.
Like all Barberton chicken houses, Whitehouse cuts its bird into wing, drumette, breast, leg, thigh, and back – an economical technique left over from Depression days when cooks tried to maximize the number of pieces they could get from one bird. When you sink your teeth into a piece, you may find meat where you don’t expect it or not enough meat where you want it (in the back). That’s no matter, because more pieces means more of the supersavory skin.
The original Whitehouse location on Wooster Rd. in Barberton is a big white corner building with a neighborhood-tavern feel. One time a few years back, as we walked towards the front door, a kindly old lady walking out smiled at us, poked a finger in our direction, and declared, “You found it!”