The KFC Original Recipe is a secret mix of ingredients that fast food restaurant chain KFC uses to produce fried chicken.
KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. Harland Sander was born in 1890 and was raised on a farm outside Henryville, Indiana. His father died in 1895, and to make ends meet his mother took work at a canning plant. When he turned 7, his mother taught him how to cook.
After leaving the family home at the age of 13, Sanders pursued several professions including railroad worker and insurance salesman, with mixed success. In 1930, he took over a Shell filling station on US Route 25 just outside North Corbin, a small city on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. By June, he had converted a storeroom into a small eating area using his own dining table, serving meals such as steaks and country ham to travelers.
In 1934, Sanders took over the lease of the Pure Oil filling station on the other side of the road, due to its greater visibility for motorists. To improve his skills, Sanders took an 8-week restaurant –management course at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.
By 1936, his business had proved successful enough for him to be given the honorary title of Kentucky colonel by Governor Ruby Laffoon. In 1937, Sanders expanded his restaurant to 140 seats, and in 1940, he purchased a motel across the street, the Sanders Court & Cafe. Sanders was dissatisfied with the 35 minutes it took to prepare his chicken in an iron frying pan but he did not want to deep fry. Although a much faster process, in Sander’s opinion it produced dry and crusty chicken that was unevenly cooked. On the other hand, if he prepared the chicken in advance of an order, there was sometimes waste at the end of the day.
In 1939, the first commercial pressure cookers were released onto the market, predominantly designed for steaming vegetables. Sanders bought one and modified it into a pressure fryer, which he then used to prepare chicken. The new method reduced production time to be comparable with deep frying. Yet, in Sanders’ opinion, retained the quality of pan-fried chicken.
In July 1940, Sanders finalized what came to be known as his Original Recipe of 11 herbs and spices. Although he never publicly revealed the recipe, he admitted to the use of salt and pepper, and claimed that the ingredients “stand on everybody’s shelf”.
After being re-commissioned as a Kentucky colonel in 1950 by Governor Lawrence Wetherby, Sanders began to dress the part, growing a goatee and wearing a black frock coat ( later switching to a white suit), a string tie, and referring to himself as “Colonel”.
Sanders Original Recipe of “11 herbs and spices” is one of the most famous trade secrets in the catering industry. Franchisee Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s argued that the secret recipe concept was successful because “everybody wants in on a secret” and former KFC owner John Y.Brown Jr called it a brilliant marketing ploy.” The recipe is not patented, because patents are published in detail and come with an expiration date, whereas trade secrets can remain the intellectual property of their holders in perpetuity.
KFC uses its Original Recipe as a means to differentiate its product from its competitors. In reference to the original recipe, the official Twitter account of KFC follows only eleven other accounts: Six public figures ( ranging from politics to sport) named Herb as well as the five members of the Spice Girls. Interesting, isn’t it? Who would you want to go to KFC with?
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