Knott's Berry Farm has been described as America's first theme park. The amusement park and Knott Avenue are named for that plucky farm family that turned boysenberries and fried chicken into an empire.
Walter and Cordelia Knott were always trying to find the next big thing. They started their berry farm in 1920, planting varieties from all over the world. Phil Brigandi, who wrote "Orange County Place Names A-Z," says during the depression, the Knotts tried a berry cultivated by a fellow in Anaheim named Boysen.
"The same year that they introduced this new berry, in 1934, is also the year that, to make a little more money, Cordelia Knott started serving fried chicken dinners on her wedding china in their little stand there on Grand Avenue in Buena Park. That's 1934 when we get both the boysenberry and Mrs. Knott's fried chicken."
The chicken side of the business was a hit. By 1940, Cordelia was serving more than 4,000 chicken dinners every Sunday. The Knotts added attractions like their son's fluorescent rock collection to keep folks amused while they waited for a table. Today, Knott's Berry Farm ranks Number 12 in amusement park attendance in the United States.