Despite its reputation, it is known that restaurants existed in Kaifeng before 1153, since there is documentation of them during the Northern era of the Song Dynasty.
Traditionally, "bucket chicken" is believed to originate from roast chickens sold in the markets of Kaifeng, when it was the capital city during the Song Dynasty. The Ma family began trading in bucket chicken in Nanjing, in today's Jiangsu Province, after the Song Dynasty moved to the south.
In 1855, Ma Youren, a descendent of the original Mr Ma moved back to his ancestral home Kaifeng, bringing with him a bucket of the traditional sauce. There, Ma Youren established the "Ma Yuxing Roast Chicken Shop" in 1864, specialising in bucket chicken. In 1954, a branch store was established in Zhengzhou when that city became the capital of Henan province.