When I opened my Yahoo Mail this morning I saw a piece of Associated Press news from my beloved Louisville. Apparently Kentucky Fried Chicken is stepping up security around Colonel Harland Sanders' original recipe for the eleven herbs and spices that helped him launch his world-famous fried chicken chain in 1950. While the vault where the recipe is kept contains samples of the spices, the "prize" according to the article is the yellowed piece of notebook paper that Sanders recorded the recipe upon in pencil, in 1940. As a child I remember being scared of Colonel Sanders when he would appear in television commercials for the chain. He was a gruff, imposing character, and accounts then and in recent years of his stubbornness and exacting expectations cement the legend. There are tales of franchisees having their equipment taken from their restaurants if they didn't follow the strict guidelines he set forth.
The radio jingle used to sing "Bring home a bucket of chicken..."
In Sellersburg, where I grew up, the restaurant offerings were slim. Until I was in my teens, there was only Freda's, a greasy spoon with great food whose sign only read "EAT", The Wheel, which in our household was thought of more a bar than restaurant, Walk's Drug Store soda fountain, and the A & W drive in. So, it was a big deal when every so often my mother would take us to Clarksville to the closest KFC. Except for the mashed potatoes which tasted like instant, we loved their food. The clerks used to call my mom "the gravy lady". Back then KFC still sold chicken livers, so we'd get those, a "Thrift Box" of 9 pieces of fried chicken, slaw, baked beans, and a quart of gravy. At home, my mother would make mashed potatoes from scratch.
The Take Home Menu: simple, varied, and no stupid bowls or sausage snackers.
As an adult, I have eaten original recipe KFC every once in a while, but in the last five years during my attempts to reach my on-again-off-again fitness goals, I have rarely eaten there. Make no mistake, I miss the hell out of it. I love KFC chicken and their cole slaw. In fact, if I do go, I'll get a 2-piece all-white, no wing meal with two sides of slaw -- because I feel today the same way I did about the potatoes when my age was in single digits (they taste fake) -- and the location closest to work and home often undercooks the baked beans (white beans that haven't cooked long enough to absorb any color or flavor from the sauce in which they're swimming).
It's sad to think that back in 1940 when Sanders devised his recipe that things would have degraded to the point that I read a lot of disparaging remarks about KFC's treatment of the chickens they sell being inhumane. And reading what I do turns my stomach. But, I've done no research to verify any claims of chickens being boiled alive. I guess I will. And I'll probably post about it later.
"KFC had a total of 14,892 locations worldwide at the end of 2007. The chain has had strong sales overseas, especially in its fast-growing China market, but has struggled in the U.S. amid a more health-conscious public."— Associated Press
Photo Credits: SA_Steve, and Neato-Coolville.