The media is never “off the record,” and now Joe Ledington knows this all too well. He’s the nephew of Harland David Sanders, also known as KFC’s founder and fast food emperor, Colonel Sanders. In an interview with freelance reporter Jay Jones for the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Ledington revealed a handwritten recipe of “11 herbs and spices” on the back his late aunt’s last will and testament.
Mr. Jones was writing a piece about Corbin, Kentucky, the hometown of Colonel Sanders, as part of a travel feature and published the recipe, ingredient for ingredient. He wrote that Mr. Ledington had shared his aunt’s photo album as well as stories of his adolescence working for the Colonel. When they happened upon the recipe, Mr. Ledington confirmed it as the very copy he referenced to mix the ingredients for his summer job.
“These are the original 11 herbs and spices that are supposed to be so secretive.”
Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, made this statement:
“In the 1940s, Colonel Sanders developed the original recipe chicken to be sold at his gas station diner. At the time, the recipe was written above the door so anyone could have read it. But today, we go to great lengths to protect such a sacred blend of herbs and spices. In fact, the recipe ranks among America’s most valuable trade secrets.”
We have to admit, the “secret recipe” is a clever marketing ploy. KFC claims the Colonel’s handwritten recipe is kept in a 770-pound safe behind two feet of concrete, motion detectors and video cameras. They even order ingredients from multiple companies so no one will crack the blend. But surely feathers were ruffled at the perceived legitimacy of Mr. Ledington, who claimed that the “special ingredient” he remembers from his younger days was the white pepper.
He served as a “loose cannon,” which a brand can ill afford, and why group media coaching becomes so valuable for all concerned.
Although the chickens have come home to roost, homemade Kentucky fried chicken probably won’t beat the price or convenience of the 12-piece Original Recipe Bucket Meal anytime soon!