You may be a big fan of KFC because of the chicken and sides that you can get from the fast food titan, but how much do you truly know about the company outside of being founded by the late Harland “Colonel” Sanders? Today, we’ll pull back the curtain and take a look at some of the more surprising behind-the-scenes facts about KFC.
Colonel Sanders Was Involved In A Shootout
When people hear the name Colonel Sanders, they must assume that the KFC founder was a high-ranking member of the US Military. However, Sanders only served in the United States Army. He was a private and served for three months before being discharged, and forged his documentation to enlist at 16 years old. The only combat that Sanders ended up seeing was actually in Kentucky.
In the town of North Corbin, Sanders had a competitor named Matt Stewart. Stewart was found to be repainting the traffic signs in the town so that more people would drive by his restaurant. Sanders was with a Shell employee at the time as Sanders was working with the company, and a shootout between Sanders and Stewart took place. The Shell employee, unfortunately, lost his life in the shootout and Stewart was convicted of murder. The “Colonel” ranking was an honorary one bestowed upon Sanders by the Kentucky Governor.
The Original Recipe is Actually Still Secret
Colonel Sanders had been in the chicken business for years by the time the KFC Original Recipe was created in 1940. Sanders had concocted a blend of 11 herbs and spices, saying that it was a total secret. The company has paid good money to keep it a secret, as well, with the written recipe kept inside a vault at KFC’s headquarters.
So how does the recipe remain secret while still having so many restaurants make the chicken? KFC gives one-half of the recipe to McCormick & Company and the other half to Griffith Laboratories. Once they receive the two finished products, they blend them together to create the KFC Original Recipe. While many recreations of the recipe have been made, it somehow never tastes exactly like Sanders’ blend from all those years ago.
The Company Was Owned By Pepsi
Most people assume that KFC was under Colonel Sanders’s control until his death in 1980, but he had sold the company long before that in 1964. Sanders sold the company to John Y. Brown Jr. and was actually critical of the food after the expansion. He said the gravy in particular was downright bad and that the chicken didn’t have nearly the same taste as his original recipe despite the company’s success.
KFC went up for sale once again in the mid-1980s, but this time the company would be taken over by another titan of the food and beverage industry: PepsiCo. Pepsi held onto KFC along with Taco Bell and Pizza Hut as part of their new fast food division, but would ultimately be sold once again in the 1990s. Now, KFC is operated by Yum! Brands and the sports arena in Louisville is even named the KFC Yum! Center.
Buffets Used To Be Common
Those who are in the younger generations will probably never know the beauty of a KFC buffet. Many locations around the United States offered an all-you-can-eat buffet that was packed with delicious chicken and sides, but those days were wrapping up long before COVID-19 shut down many buffets. The best part of these buffets back then? They were much cheaper than you probably think.
In the 1990s, a family of four could eat for about $20-25 depending on the location. There are still a handful around the world that are still operating, but finding one of them is akin to finding a pot of gold. The same can be said for sister company Pizza Hut, which saw buffets as a staple during the 1980s and into the 1990s.
KFC is On Another Level in Japan
While it’s difficult to find a KFC that has a buffet in the United States, you probably won’t be too hard-pressed to find one in Japan. KFC began operations in the country back in 1970 and has become the go-to fast food location. KFC Japan is majority-owned by Mitsubishi and is thought to be more luxurious and of higher quality than the American franchises.
There is a stringent test that you have to pass to make KFC chicken in Japan, and it takes three months just to get certified. KFC around Christmastime has also become a tradition for the country, much like American Thanksgiving. On Christmas Eve, KFC Japan makes a massive amount of money that totals 5 percent of yearly revenue.