Thanksgiving in the South isn’t complete without Cajun deep-fried turkey on the menu.

It’s a staple here at Copeland’s, as it is for many households during the holidays.

But how did our deep-fried bird become so popular in the first place? While the South has a long, loving history of fried chicken, it turns out that deep fried turkey has only been around for a few decades, and took quite some time for it to become popularized nationally.

It all started with the invention of portable propane cookers in the 1970s. These cookers included a portable propane tank attached to a metal burner that could hold aluminum cooking pots of all sizes. Over time, this regular campsite tool opened up inventive ways of preparing southern favorites such as Cajun boiled crawfish, fried fish, and of course, fried chicken.

It was in the 1980s when some serious Louisiana cooks from the small town of Church Point graduated from deep frying chicken to deep frying whole turkeys for the holidays.