What’s your favorite fast food restaurant? If you have a hankering for some great fried chicken, you probably know where to go. KFC has become the place to get a big ol’ bucket of fried chicken along with some southern comfort food sides, such as mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, mac and cheese, potato wedges, and of course, biscuits.
KFC is also known for its 11 spice blend that makes its chicken to die for, and its long-time mascot, Colonel Sanders, was a real life person back in the day. Harland Sanders started out as a humble nobody who left home at an early age. By the time he passed away in the 1980s, he was worth millions of dollars and had expanded his modest restaurant into a franchise that is in over 100 countries all across the globe!
For instance, the recipe for KFC’s fried chicken is actually kept under wraps in a secret vault at company headquarters. Good luck finding that blend of yummy spices! Even so, lots of other restaurants and individual cooks have tried to recreate KFC’s finger-lickin’ good chicken.
These days, Chick-Fil-A, another fast food chain that focuses on chicken, has been giving KFC a run for its money. As KFC struggles to overcome Chick-Fil-A, the restaurant has been shelling out new menu deals and offers to consumers. Many KFC restaurants are paired with Taco Bell to entice more clientele to enjoy the crispy fried chicken. Read these tips, then get a family bucket for dinner!
To commemorate Colonel Sanders and his fried chicken, we have compiled this
Finger-Lickin’ KFC Facts
1 Colonel Sanders Didn’t Come Up With the Restaurant Name
“Kentucky Fried Chicken” was not the brainchild of original cook Harland “Colonel” Sanders. Actually, Sanders was at a bit of a loss as to what to call his newfound franchise, which was fast becoming a huge hit down south.
While visiting a franchise location one day, Sanders expressed his musings to a painter, Don Anderson, who suggested that Harland call the restaurant “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
According to Anderson, this name signified “southern hospitality” and something new and exciting. After all, serving fried chicken was basically unheard of at the time, as most fast food places were serving hamburgers and milkshakes.
2 KFC Has Become More Health-Conscious
In fact, people rarely refer to the restaurant as “Kentucky Fried Chicken” anymore, opting instead to call it “KFC.” This is because the marketing team decided to go for a more health-conscious approach, and they wanted to phase out the word “fried,” because it implied “fat” and “unhealthy.”
So they started using “KFC” exclusively, as well as introducing healthier menu items, such as grilled chicken and sauteed green beans. Of course, the best-selling menu items continue to be the family buckets of chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and biscuits and gravy.
Clearly, consumers know what they want, even if advertising tries to shift mindsets!
3 Finger-Lickin’ Good Originated as an Insult
Ken Harbough was a manager of a KFC in Salt Lake City, Utah back in the 1950s. One day, a customer approached him and questioned his decision to include a person licking their fingers in a KFC commercial.
The customer thought it was absolutely disgusting that someone was seen onscreen licking their digits like that. Ken’s response was witty; he said the chicken was “finger-lickin’ good!” Ever since then, the slogan stuck, and it was widely used by KFC chains worldwide until 2011.
Nowadays, Kentucky Fried Chicken is battling with Chick-Fil-A over the fast food chicken market, so maybe the slogan should return!
4 KFC Changed After Sanders Sold It
Granted, Harland Sanders was 74 years old when he first sold Kentucky Fried Chicken; he must have been tired by then! In 1964, he sold KFC to John Brown, Jr. and Jack Massey for $2 million.
Harland still had a firm position in the company, but the company was sold by Brown and some recipes were altered. Harland Sanders passed away in 1980, and his gravy recipe did not survive him.
According to Brown, Sanders’ original gravy recipe was extremely complex, which was probably what made it totally delicious. Sure, it’s still good today, but not the same as when the Colonel made it.
Related: Fascinating Facts about Chicken
5 KFC Helped to Popularize the Pressure Cooker
Most fast food restaurants were not in the practice of using pressure cookers, and it was Colonel (Harland) Sanders himself who started using one to cook up his delicious, crispy fried chicken.
He actually converted his pressure cooker into a pressure fryer, and he did this because he thought it better achieved the authentic taste and texture of cooking fried chicken with a frying pan.
Sanders had to go through some trial and error for a few years before the pressure fryer was perfected (he may have had some small kitchen explosions beforehand,) but the effect was the perfect fried chicken.
6 Lost in Translation
Most people can cite the KFC slogan: “finger-lickin’ good!” After all, those 11 spices really elevated the tasty flavor of that iconic fried chicken. Unfortunately, when KFC expanded into Asia, the slogan was taken offensively by the Chinese. That’s because “finger-lickin’ good” was translated directly to “eat your fingers off.” Whoops!
The mix up in translation led to less than stellar sales in China, as consumers were not only confused by the restaurant’s message, but they were a bit nervous about eating anything from Colonel Sanders! The restaurant has since recovered, but the marketing team learned their lesson the hard way!
Related: Outback Steakhouse Facts
7 If it Weren’t for Road Closures, KFC Might Not Have Existed
The truth is, Harland Sanders was pretty okay with just selling and serving his fried chicken from his workplace (a Shell gas station.) He did expand to motels and the like, but once road closures and construction took place in the 1950s, Harland decided to become a franchisee in order to continue selling his goods to consumers.
By the 1960s, there were many different locations that adopted the name Kentucky Fried Chicken, and now there are nearly 19,000 KFC restaurants in 118 countries all around the world, including stand-alone chains, eateries at shopping malls, and combined restaurants (usually with Taco Bell.)
8 How Did Harland Sanders Become a Colonel?
We all know that Colonel Sanders is the official mascot of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and his likeness is still portrayed on the buckets and other items that KFC sells. Yet how did the humble Harland Sanders, the guy who lived a modest lifestyle, become a Colonel?
Well, the governor of his city bestowed the honor upon him in shortly after Harland expanded his chicken sales to motels in the town. By 1963, a multitude of restaurants were using his chicken recipe (as per Harland’s permission, of course) as well as using his name and likeness to sell it. The name and face has stuck around to this day!
9 Their Chicken Recipe is Safely Guarded
If you want to find the spicy recipe of KFC’s iconic fried chicken, then good luck! The recipe and that expert blend of 11 different spices is tucked away in a guarded vault – seriously.
The vault is located at KFC’s company headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky and has only been seen by a handful of people. Each of the 11 spices was poured into a small vial and was stored away, along with a written recipe for the chicken.
The spices come from two separate sources: McCormick and Griffith Laboratories. In reality, the spices aren’t anything groundbreaking; they’re just secret. We do know that 2 of them are simple salt and black pepper.
10 It’s Seriously Profitable
In fact, KFC is behind only McDonald’s in terms of annual sales, making it one of the most successful and profitable fast food chains in the world. In fact, you can find a KFC almost anywhere you go, except maybe Antarctica.
KFC is on the other six continents though! It’s incredible to think that Kentucky Fried Chicken was started by a guy who left home at 13, worked odd jobs up until his 40s, and was pumping gas for a living before hitting it big with KFC.
In the 1930s, Harland Sanders cooked for friends and travelers from his home before expanding to motels.
How KFC Was Made from a Gas Station Chicken Recipe
Every fast food restaurant needs a colorful mascot to help sell their food, but Kentucky Fried Chicken is rare in that their mascot was a real person.
Harland Sanders was born in Indiana in 1890, even though the Colonel Sanders persona was still a character he played. Sanders wasn’t a colonel in the military, but he was an honorary Kentucky colonel, and his iconic look of a white suit with a string tie and a white mustache and goatee only came near the end of his life.
Let’s take a look at the crazy real-life story of Colonel Harland Sanders.
I’m Natalie Garcia and I started this website to share my love of trivia, facts and fun knowledge tidbits. We cover things like celebrity gossip, historical facts, tv shows, world leaders and just odd and random fun things. I started this site to have some fun with my hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send me your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have suggestions for things to write about, please shoot me a message!