Kentucky Fried Chicken, usually known as KFC, is a chain of fast food restaurants based in Louisville, Kentucky. KFC was a wholly owned subsidiary of Tricon from 1997-2002, and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Yum! Brands since 2002. The chain also advertises itself as Poulet Frit du Kentucky or PFK in the province of Quebec in Canada.
KFC primarily sells chicken in form of pieces, wraps, salads and burgers. While its primary focus is fried chicken KFC also offers a line of roasted chicken products, sides and desserts. Outside of North America, KFC offers beef based products such as burgers or kebabs, pork based products such as ribs and other regional fare. The popularity and novelty of KFC has led to the general formula of the fried chicken fast-food restaurant being copied by restaurant owners worldwide.
The company was founded as Kentucky Fried Chicken by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1952. The company adopted the abbreviated form of its name, KFC, in 1991. Starting in April 2007, the company began using its original appellation of Kentucky Fried Chicken again for its signage, packaging and advertisements in the United States as part of a new corporate re-branding program; newer and remodeled restaurants will have the new logo and name while older stores will continue to use the 1980s signage. Additionally, the company continues to use the abbreviation KFC freely in its advertising. Internationally the company is still known as KFC.
Born and raised in Henryville, Indiana, Sanders passed through several professions in his lifetime. Sanders first served his fried chicken in 1930 in the midst of the Great Depression at a gas station he owned in North Corbin, Kentucky. The dining area was named "Sanders Court & Café" and was so successful that in 1936 Kentucky Governor Ruby Laffoon granted Sanders the title of honorary Kentucky Colonel, in recognition of his contribution to the state's cuisine. The following year Sanders expanded his restaurant to 142 seats, and added a motel he bought across the street. When Sanders prepared his chicken in his original restaurant in North Corbin, he prepared the chicken in an iron skillet, which took about 30 minutes to do, too long for a restaurant operation. In 1939, Sanders altered the cooking process for his fried chicken to use a pressure fryer, resulting in a greatly reduced cooking time comparable to that of deep frying. In 1940 Sanders devised what came to be known as his Original Recipe.
The Sanders Court & Café generally served travelers, often those headed to Florida, so when the route planned in the 1950s for what would become Interstate 75 bypassed Corbin, he sold his properties and traveled the U.S. to sell his chicken to restaurant owners. Sanders entered into franchise agreements paying him five cents for each piece of chicken sold. The first to take him up on the offer was Pete Harman in South Salt Lake, Utah; together, they opened the first "Kentucky Fried Chicken" outlet in 1952. By the early 1960s Kentucky Fried Chicken was sold in over 600 franchised outlets in both the United States and Canada. One of the longest-lived franchisees of the older Col. Sanders' chicken concept, as opposed to the KFC chain, was the Kenny Kings chain. The company owned many Northern Ohio diner-style restaurants, the last of which closed in 2004. Sanders sold the entire KFC franchising operation in 1964 for $2 million USD Since that time, the chain has been sold three more times, most recently to PepsiCo, which made it part of its Tricon Global Restaurants division, which in turn was spun off in 1997, and has now been renamed to Yum! Brands. Additionally, Colonel Sanders' nephew, Lee Cummings, took his own Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises (and a chicken recipe of his own) and converted them to his own "spin-off" restaurant chain, Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken.
Today, some of the older KFC restaurants have become famous in their own right. One such restaurant is located in Marietta, Georgia. This store is notable for a tall sign that looks like a chicken. The sign, known locally as the Big Chicken, was built for an earlier fast-food restaurant on the site called Johnny Reb's Chick, Chuck and Shake. It is often used as a travel reference point in the Atlanta area by locals and pilots.
The original handwritten recipe, along with vials containing samples of each of 11 herbs and spices, is kept locked away at the KFC corporate headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. Only 2 executives have access to it and to maintain security, the company uses multiple suppliers each providing only a portion of the final ingredients.
KFC formerly used partially hydrogenated oil in its fried foods. This oil contains relatively high levels of trans fat, which increases the risk of heart disease. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a court case against KFC, with the aim of making it use other types of oils or make sure customers know about trans fat content immediately before they buy food.
In October 2006, KFC announced that it would begin frying its chicken in trans fat-free oil. This would also apply to their potato wedges and other fried foods, however, the biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes would still contain trans fat. Trans fat-free soybean oil was introduced in all KFC restaurants in the U.S. by 30 April 2007. CSPI announced that it would immediately drop its lawsuit against KFC and was hopeful that this would create a ripple effect on other restaurants or fast food chains that prepare food rich in trans fat. "If KFC, which deep-fries almost everything, can get the artificial trans fat out of its frying oil, anyone can," CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said in a statement.
Early television advertisements for KFC regularly featured Colonel Sanders licking his fingers and talking to the viewer about his secret recipe and the importance of a family joining one another for a meal. Despite his death in 1980, this angle was quite common through the 1980s and up until the early-mid 1990s.
Throughout the mid 1980s, KFC called on Will Vinton Studios to produce a series of humorous, claymation ads. These most often featured a cartoon-like chicken illustrating the poor food quality of competing food chains, mentioning prolonged freezing and other negative aspects. TV ads also featured Foghorn Leghorn advising Henery Hawk to visit the restaurant for better chicken.
By the late 1990s, the stylized likeness of Colonel Sanders as the KFC logo had been modified. KFC ads began featuring an animated version of "the Colonel" voiced by Randy Quaid with a lively and enthusiastic attitude. He would often start out saying "The Colonel here!" and moved across the screen with a cane in hand. The Colonel was often shown dancing, singing, and knocking on the TV screen as he spoke to the viewer about the product. In reference to these ads, William Shatner shouted "The Colonel is breakdancing! Give me a break!" in the song "I Can't Get Behind That
The animated Colonel is uncommon today. Still using a humorous slant, the current KFC campaign revolves mostly around customers enjoying the food. It also features a modified version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" as the theme song for practically all its commercials, though the restaurant hails from Kentucky.
In 2006, KFC claimed to have made the first logo visible from outer space, though Readymix has had one since 1965. KFC says "[It] marked the official debut of a massive global re-image campaign that will contemporize 14,000-plus KFC restaurants in over 80 countries over the next few years." The logo was built from 65,000 one-foot-square tiles, and it took six days on site to construct in early November. The logo measured a record-breaking , and was placed in the Mojave Desert near Rachel, Nevada.
Many KFC locations are co-located with one or more of Yum! Brands restaurants, Long John Silvers, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, or A&W Restaurants. Many of these locations behave like a single restaurant, offering a single menu with food items from both restaurants.
One of KFC's latest advertisements is a commercial advertising its "wicked crunch box meal". The commercial features a fictional black metal band called "Hellvetica" performing live, the lead singer then swallows fire. The commercial then shows the lead singer at a KFC eating the "wicked crunch box meal" and saying "Oh man that is hot".
In 2007, the original, non-acronymic "Kentucky Fried Chicken" name was resurrected and began to reappear on company marketing literature and food packaging, as well as some restaurant signage.
In Quebec, KFC was officially rebranded as PFK (Poulet Frit Kentucky) in the late 1970s. In one scene of Dawn of the Dead, filmed in Ontario, this French logo is briefly visible (Canadian packages are bilingual, this usually include brandings, if they differ).
In 1987, it opened its first store in Qianmen Beijing, the capital of China. In 2007, it has over 1800 restaurants in 402 cities in all Mainland China's provinces other than Tibet. From 2000 to 2005, it was selected as the "Best chain store brand." KFC in China also serves other poultry in addition to chicken.
The first KFC locations opened in Germany in the 1960s thus making it one of the first European countries where KFC established itself. Currently, there are 55 locations in Germany, with most located in major cities (mostly Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg to name a few), with at least 2 new locations (1 planned in Munich and 1 in Bremen . The new Dortmund location opened in April marking the end of a 3-year absence in that city. On May 13, 2008, KFC opened their largest restaurant worldwide in Munich at the "Euro-Industie-Park".
In India, KFC has not established itself in any large way as opposed to another Yum! brand-name restaurant, Pizza Hut, which is prevalent in most Indian cities. It has outlets in Chandigarh,Pune, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. The success of the Mumbai restaurant led KFC to introduce the hot and spicy chicken flavor which is more acceptable to the Indian palate. More recently, KFC has opened outlets in Chennai, Tharamani and Mylapore.
In May 2007 KFC (Great Britain) requested that Tan Hill Inn, in the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire, UK refrain from using the term 'Family Feast' to describe its Christmas menu, although this problem was quickly resolved with the pub being allowed to continue use of the term.
Many stores in western Canada are unionized with the Canadian Auto Workers, and as a result many non-franchise stores in western Canada pay higher than minimum wage. In British Columbia, where minimum wage is $8 an hour, KFC employees make between $10 and $11 an hour.
KFC responded by saying the chickens used in its products are bought from suppliers like Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods, and Pilgrim's Pride, and that these suppliers are routinely monitored for animal welfare violations. Several PETA undercover investigations and videos of these and other KFC suppliers purport to show chickens being beaten, ripped apart, and thrown against walls contradict KFC’s claims. PETA has criticised some of the practices of chicken breeders, such as beak trimming and overcrowding, but KFC says its suppliers meets UK legal requirements. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recommends a maximum stocking density of 34kg - around 30 chickens - per square metre, and say that in circumstances where beak trimming needs to be carried out to prevent the birds injuring each other, only one third of the beak should be trimmed "measured from the tip towards the entrance of the nostrils". There have been more than 12,000 demonstrations at KFC outlets since 2003 because of this alleged mistreatment of chickens by KFC suppliers.
In June 2008, KFC Canada agreed to PETA's demands for better welfare standards, including favoring suppliers who use controlled-atmosphere killing (CAK) of chickens, and other welfare standards as well as introducing a vegan sandwich at 65% of its outlets. PETA has called off its campaign against KFC Canada, but continues to demonstrate against KFC elsewhere in the world.
Urban legends about KFC's rebranding from Kentucky Fried Chicken include the notion that the Commonwealth of Kentucky planned legal action against the chain due to a trademark on "Kentucky." Another popular tale is that the chicken products came from highly genetically modified animals without feathers, beaks, or feet, which were easier to harvest; the corollary to the myth is that the chain was forced to change its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC since it otherwise would be falsely advertising their products as being made from actual chickens.
The TLC program Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revealed had a segment called "Kentucky Fried Rat," which aired on June 10, 2003. The story described a woman who purchased a dinner from KFC as a shortcut in the evening preparations for her family, only for the dinner that was supposed to be chicken turn out to be rat. According to the show, the story was not true.