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Five Things Even I Didn’t Know About KFC

Bet you thought you knew all about KFC. It’s been around since before many of you were borne. And it’s been a fixture in many of our lives. But even I was amazed to learn some of the surprising facts in a detailed MSN post..

Col. Sanders Cooking - © KFC

I think all KFC fans know that Colonel Harland Sanders – the original man in the ice cream suit – was the inventor, founder and face of KFC. His stylized portrait still adorns most KFC signs, packaging and fan merchandise.

But did you know?

KFC emerged during the Great Depression

Sanders started frying chicken in 1934. In a converted service station in Corbin Kentucky. He soon took over the motel across the street, and opened his first ‘real’ restaurant.

A revolutionary process

KFC still stands out as the first ‘fried’ chicken to be made via deep frying. And in a pressure cooker! The pressure method, Sanders insisted, cooked the chicken faster, so it absorbed less oil and was crispier. And sealed in the meat’s natural juices.

Sanders was a real Kentucky Colonel

Kentucky Colonels are regimental commanders in a ceremonial state ‘militia’, to be activated during any future ‘unpleasantness’ between North and South. It’s a high honour, unique to Kentucky. And Sanders was appointed a Colonel in 1936 – so famous had he and his chicken become in just 2 years!

Franchise trail an arduous trudge

Sanders came up with the idea of franchising. It’s said the Colonel went door-to-door, trying to convince restaurants to license his method of cooking chicken. And only inked his first franchise deal after 1,009 rejections.

The iconic bucket

Sanders thought the iconic chicken bucket was an ideal way to sell his products. He introduced it in 1957. Originally, you would get chicken, gravy and biscuits – enough to feed a family – in one convenient package. The bucket was simply a larger version of the already common paper beverage cop. But it was distinctive – different than everybody else’s rectangular take-out boxes.

Going international

KFC was such a hit at home that, in 1960, it opened its first European location, in  Lancashire, UK. Within the next 5 years, KFC was also in Jamaica, Germany and Australia. And the brand exploded from there.

‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ becomes ‘KFC’

According to Taste of Home: “The company claimed publicly that the name change from ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ to ‘KFC’ was to shy away from the word ‘fried’ for potential health-conscious patrons.” But that wasn’t the real reason.

There was a controversial episode in 1991, in which KFC was sued for copyright infringement – by the state! “The Commonwealth of Kentucky trademarked its name in 1990. […] Anyone using ‘Kentucky’ for their business would first need the state’s permission and would also be required to pay licensing fees.” So the company simply changed its corporate name to ‘KFC’. Which was what most folks were calling it, anyway.

Fried Chicken for Christmas?

In Japan, yet! “In 1974, KFC launched a Japanese marketing campaign called ‘Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii’ (which translates as ‘Kentucky for Christmas’), promoting its fried chicken as a festive meal. The idea apparently came to Takeshi Okawara – the first KFC manager in the country and, a decade later, the company’s CEO in Japan – in a dream. The campaign was a huge success, and fried chicken remains a popular Christmas meal there to this day.

Goodbye to the legend

Colonel Sanders died on December 16, 1980. I remember the day well. I was on duty as a newscaster at Ottawa’s leading radio station, CFRA. The death notice came down the wire just before 11 a.m., and that ‘cast’ was assigned to my fellow ‘newsreader’, Johnny. He tore the paper from the teletype machine and ran into the booth. “Colonel Sanders has kicked the bucket!” he informed 96,000 Ottawa listeners…

And there’s so much more!

If you’re a KFC junkie. Or just a fan. Or just curious! Visit the MSN slideshow. It’s fascinating…

~ Maggie J.

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