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How Did Colonel Sanders Feel About KFC in 1976?

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is an American fast-food restaurant chain based in Louisville, Kentucky. It is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald’s, with over 22,000 locations in 150 countries as of December 2019. The restaurant chain is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, which also owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and WingStreet. But did you know that KFC’s founder, good old Colonel Sanders, disliked the modern version of their product?

Colonel Harland Sanders, by that time, was estranged from KFC, he visited a Manhattan KFC in 1976 and described the food as the worst fried chicken he’d ever tasted, and even compared the gravy to wallpaper paste.

But How Did he Find Out About the Substandard Procedure?

Mimi Sheraton of the New York Times and Colonel Harland Sanders stopped by a Manhattan Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant one day in September 1976. Sanders strolled into the kitchen after greeting some customers. He then proceeded to criticize the food’s quality.

Upon entering the kitchen, he walked over to a vat of frying chicken pieces and declared:

That’s far too dark. It should be a golden brown color. You’ve been frying for 12 minutes, which is six minutes too long. Furthermore, you should have changed your frying fat a week ago. That is the most disgusting fried chicken I’ve ever seen. Please show me your mashed potatoes with gravy, and how you make them.

Colonel Harland Sanders, Founder of KFC

The colonel interrupted Mr. Singleton’s explanation that he first mixed boiling water into the instant powdered potatoes.

Then there’s wallpaper paste. Then you’re supposed to add some of this brown gravy stuff, and you’ve got sludge. Nobody is going to get me to eat those potatoes. And look at this coleslaw! Look at this coleslaw! They simply will not listen to me. It should be chopped rather than shredded and made with Miracle Whip. Everything else becomes gray. And there should be nothing but cabbage in it. There are no carrots!

Colonel Harland Sanders, Founder of KFC

(Source: Jason Kottke)

Why Did Colonel Sanders Decide to Sell KFC?

In 1964, at the age of 73, Sanders decided to sell his company for $2 million to a group of investors led by John Y. Brown Jr. and Jack C. Massey.

Sander’s secret recipe became known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, and it rose to popularity quite fast. However, when an interstate was built nearby, his thriving business was gravely affected. 

Sanders finally decided to sell it and pursued his dream of expanding KFC into franchises and hiring KFC workers all across the country. Sanders still continued to work for the company as an advisor even after the sale, but he grew increasingly dissatisfied with it the modern outcome of his masterpiece. (Source: Snag A Job)

Lawsuits Between KFC and Colonel Sanders

The relationship between KFC and Colonel Sanders began to sour. ​​In 1973, Sanders sued Heublein Inc., Kentucky Fried Chicken’s parent company at the time, for allegedly misusing his image in promoting products he had not helped develop. 
Heublein Inc. fought back but unsuccessfully sued Sanders for libel in 1975 after he publicly referred to their gravy as sludge with a wallpaper taste. (Source: Jason Kottke)

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