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Useful Notes / Kentucky Fried Chicken

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It's finger-lickin' good.

Nobody does chicken like KFC.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (or KFC) is America's largest fried chicken restaurant chain.

Their logo bears the face of a bearded man in a tie. This is the company's founder, "Colonel" Harland Sanders (1890-1980). A native of Henryville, Indiana (a farm town near Louisville, Kentucky), Sanders bounced around the country for much of his youth, spending time in places as diverse as Indianapolis, Alabama, and even Cuba before finding himself back in Louisville. He found his business there didn't match his skill set, so he went further east in Kentucky, at first working for the French tire company Michelin, and then when Michelin closed its American operations, he opened a Shell gas station in Corbin, Kentucky.

He chose to build where US Highway 25 split into East and West spurs (though today the split has been moved a mile further north). At the time US Highway 25 ran from Detroit, MI to Brunswick, GA. This made it a principal artery for traffic headed from the midwest to points south. The café was at the first major fork point in this route. Sanders found his calling here. He sold pan-fried chicken to travelers, at first in his parlor, and when business got too much for that, at his restaurant, Sanders Court, Café and Motel. Eventually, he was serving so much chicken that he needed a new way to cook it — and with that problem in mind, he searched for a way to prepare fried chicken quickly without sacrificing quality. He discovered the idea of pressure-frying the chicken, which worked so well his business only increased. For this innovation, Sanders was made a Kentucky Colonel.note 

It seemed for a while that that would be that. However, in the 1950s the federal government drew up plans to build the Interstate Highway System, and wouldn't you know it — the new Interstate 75, to be the main north-south route through eastern Kentucky, bypassed Sanders Cafe completely passing along a route just over a mile away, diverting the Colonel's business. At this point, the Colonel was 65, but because of the ups and downs of his career, he realized he couldn't simply retire. It was because of this that the Colonel decided to franchise his chicken recipe. The Kentucky Fried Chicken brand was born when Sanders granted his first franchise to a restaurant run by a friend of his in...Utah. The chain quickly spread and achieved massive popularity, to the point that Sanders was overwhelmed by his business, and sold the company to investors in 1964, who in turn sold it to alcohol manufacturer Heublein in 1971. Rapid marketing began. All the while the new KFC owners continued to use Sanders as the company mascot. He even appeared twice on the popular panel show What's My Line?, first as a regular guest when his image was not yet famous and then again as a Mystery Guest with the panel blindfolded when his image became well-known.

An odd subplot in the KFC story began in 1968, when Sanders' protege Dave Thomas left the company and founded his own fast food chain, Wendy's, the next year.note 

Sanders continued as the KFC spokesman until his death in 1980 and remains part of the company's logo. Even in his advanced age, he drove himself upwards of 250,000 miles a year in his own car visiting individual restaurants and promoting the chain. He also had exclusive authority to shut down franchisees whose service or quality of food was below his standards. Sanders was extremely critical of what he believed to be a lowering in the quality of the food under Heublein's ownership and in particular the gravy; He said his original gravy was even better than his chicken, but it had been reduced to what he called "pure wallpaper paste." One executive said “The Colonel’s gravy was fantastic but you had to be a Rhodes Scholar to cook it.” A franchisee unsuccessfully tried to sue Sanders for these comments. Heublein itself sued Sanders in 1975 after he and his wife opened another, considerably more upscale, restaurant in Shelbyville, Kentucky called The Colonel's Lady where he also sold his fried chicken. Sanders countersued Heublein for using his image on products he did not create, including an unsuccessful and disastrous attempt at selling barbeque spare ribs. The company and Sanders ultimately settled out of court, and Sanders changed the name of his new restaurant to the Claudia Sanders Dinner House. Barring a fire that burned down the original restaurant in 1999, the dining house is still in operation today and is currently the only non-KFC franchise restaurant authorized to sell Sanders' original recipe fried chicken - and possibly the only one at all to still use Sanders' original recipe.

Heublein eventually brought in Michael Miles to manage the company in 1977, and helped turn it around by installing drive-through windows, indoor seating, and listening to Sanders' own suggestions on how to run the business. Heublein sold KFC to the RJ Reynolds Company in 1982, and then it wound up in the hands of PepsiCo in 1986, who spun off its restaurant division (also including Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, among others) as Tricon Global Restaurants in 1997; that company later renamed itself Yum! Brands. KFC still sells Pepsi products in an exclusivity deal with its former owner.

The company's primary market is chicken, whether fried, grilled, or in a sandwich. Sides are, generally speaking, outside of the famous potato wedges, a fast-food-ified form of traditional Southern side dishes: mashed potatoes, coleslaw, biscuits, macaroni and cheese, etc. They also sell soft drinks with their meals, as well as desserts. They're most famous for their "Original Recipe" chicken, supposedly seasoned with Sanders' recipe of eleven herbs and spices, though the true contents of the recipe are one of life's greatest secrets (and late in life, Sanders grumpily insisted that the herbs and spices had been abandoned by the company). People have spent decades trying to recreate or track down any source of the original recipe, but to no avail. note 

While the chain was originally, officially, known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, due to most people calling it "KFC" and a desire to expand its brand, the name was changed officially in 1991 to KFC. Cue the various rumors about the name change occurring to avoid trouble with the use of one of those words; the official (and true) explanation is that they wanted to avoid the negative connotations of fried foods, but crazy people have whispered that it's because it has no franchises in Kentucky (which is demonstrably false; also, its corporate headquarters are in Louisville, to say nothing of the fact that they named a major arena in Louisville after the chain, and, yes, there's a KFC concession in the buildingnote ) or that their food doesn't actually contain chicken (which is downright bizarre—the stuff they sell is very obviously whole cuts of chicken, unlike some of the chicken offerings of other chains *cough* chicken nuggets *cough*).

Even following his death, the image of Colonel Sanders has been featured in promotions for the company. In 2015, the company launched a campaign featuring several celebrities as the Colonel including Norm Macdonald, Jim Gaffigan and even Reba McEntire (yes, we're serious). George Hamilton also took on the role of the Colonel to promote extra-crispy chicken. In 2018, they sponsored an episode of Drunk History about the Colonel.

KFC has a major international presence, and is especially popular in Japan (especially around Christmas, because of an advertising campaign of all things), to the point that a few anime make reference to Colonel Sanders, usually due to The Curse of the Colonel, a notorious Japanese sports curse triggered when rowdy fans stole a statue of the Colonel from a restaurant and threw it into a canal. Also, the following quote is probably worth mentioning here:

[while discussing mainland China, circa 1999] "Omnipresent amid all the frenzy of Shanghai, is that famous portrait, that modern icon. The faintly smiling, bland, yet somehow threatening visage appears in brilliant hues on placards and posters, and is painted huge on the sides of buildings. Some call him a genius. Others blame him for the deaths of millions. There are those who say his military reputation is inflated, yet he conquered the mainland in short order. Yes, it's Colonel Sanders."
P.J. O'Rourke, Eat The Rich.

In Africa, the KFC Index is used instead of the Big Mac Index because KFC restaurants are more numerous there.

In 2018, most of their UK stores were forced to close for several days owing to a distribution problem. Despite KFC not being anywhere near the biggest fast food chain in that country, nevertheless it made front page news.

In September 2019, KFC released a licensed game on Steam for free; a Dating Sim titled I Love You, Colonel Sanders! Then in 2020, they made a romantic Short Film called A Recipe for Seduction. No, we're not kidding. They even released ranges of nail polish and eau de toilette (which smelled like fried chicken, natch).

This is hardly the first time KFC made raunchy media based on its mascot either, with everything from a romance novel entitled Tender Wings of Desire to the "Chickendale" dancers (strippers) both released on Mother's Day.note 

And even that isn't the weirdest thing they've ever done: in December of 2020, KFC, for reasons known only to themselves and the almighty, announced they were getting into video games with their own game console, the KFC Console, a high tech, Intel Core-based gaming PC that boasts 240fps 4K visuals, 1TB of storage space, and a compartment specifically designed for storing fried chicken to keep warm via the console's natural heat and ventilation system. No, we are not kidding about this!

Not to be confused with The Kentucky Fried Movie.


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Alternative Title(s): KFC


Colonel Sanders

Markiplier is informed that he looks just like the CGI Col. Sanders, and is flattered by the resemblance at how right it feels.

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