photo from kfc.com
Update, Sept. 23rd; ‘KFC Executive [Yum! Brands President Roger Eaton] Denies He Is Favoring Grilled Products Over Crispy Chicken‘ – Bloomberg
In this post I’m combining news from this week with information I’ve previously posted. As time goes on, the current management at KFC is deviating further and further from Col. Harland Sanders’ concepts, ideas, and now his morals and ethics. Anyone who has ever read the man’s autobiography would be appalled at the current state-of-affairs at KFC, complete with the current court case between the KFC National Council and Advertising Cooperative Inc. representing about 80% of franchisees, and the company over the advertising department’s misguided emphasis on grilled chicken. Looking at the Colonel’s autobiography, current and recent events, and at the above photo, it becomes questionable as to whether or not Kentucky Fried Chicken as intended by a very honorable southern gentleman still exists. I don’t believe it does whatsoever.
In their own online newsroom someone at KFC wrote on September 21, 2010, “GLUTEUS AD MAXIMUS: KFC PLACES DOUBLE DOWN™ ADS ON THE BACKSIDES OF SWEAT PANTS WORN BY COLLEGE CO-EDS”. The screaming all-caps tagline is just below the above photo.
This is on their corporate website.
A couple years ago many news organizations were reporting that KFC would soon offer grilled chicken. From a CBC article at that time:
Kentucky Fried Chicken customers will be greeted eventually by lighted “Now Grilling” signs, starting in coming weeks in select cities in the United States …Storefront signs will be altered to promote the new product — called Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Even the brand’s ubiquitous chicken buckets will get a makeover, though they will still feature the iconic founder Sanders … Doug Hasselo, KFC’s chief food innovation officer, says “This is transformational for our brand.”
No, not transformational. The Colonel would not have approved of anything “transformational”. It’s more like complete and utter nonsense, totally ignoring what KFC’s founder would have wanted.
Doug Hasselo, KFC’s “chief food innovation officer.” Chief what? Chief of, “If the Col. were alive today, he’d throw me out on my ass, with my grills not too far behind.” This quote from Hasselo used to be part of the above-mentioned CBC article. The quote is oddly missing now. In that missing quote Hasselo was actually being quite factual about the Colonel likely throwing him and his equipment out. Col. Sanders used to do exactly that to people like Hasselo, and the current advertising team with their emphasis on grilled, not fried, chicken.
One of the many autobiographies I own is that of Col. Harland Sanders himself. If alive today, the Col. would have completely pissed, and would have simply removed control of the organization’s “innovation” from Hasselo. Here’s why he would have been pissed, in the Kentucky Colonel’s own words:
Well, every greasy spoon restaurant in the country has fried chicken on its menu and most of them call it Southern fried chicken. It’s fried in the same French fryer as they fry fish, shrimp, and everything else. Well, I didn’t want my chicken to be in that category. So I called mine Kentucky Fried Chicken, way back from its very inception when I first started frying chicken in the state of Kentucky … In the Southeast, we usually season our food more highly than the people in the Midwest or the West. Also, folks in the big cities usually liked their food cooked in one way, while people in the country another way. But it didn’t seem to make no difference where people came from, they liked my Kentucky Fried Chicken just the way it was … Since then, we have seen this fact demonstrated in many parts of the world where Kentucky Fried franchises have been opened – thirty-three countries in all.
Why do I say the Col. would remove Doug Hasselo from the organization? Again, I’ll let the Col. explain:
Many times I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist. Maybe I am. But I do know how chicken should be fried, and if it’s goona be fried usin’ my special recipe, then it’s got to be done right. I don’t want nobody foolin’ around with his own ideas. [emphasis mine] If he had my franchise then he had to do it my way.
One time Mildred called me on the phone from Newport News, Virginia, to tell me there was a franchisee that wasn’t fryin’ chicken with my equipment. Someone come along and sold him on another type cooker.
At the time I was in Roanoke, so I drove up there, and sure enough there was this inferior equipment. There was also a pile of chicken left over from the night before and it was a horrible mess.
Well, I got there just after daylight. Wasn’t any business in the restaurant, so I backed up my car to the platform, raised the trunk lid, and went through the kitchen.
“Where’s the chicken-frying department?” I asked the first man I see.
“Over there,” he jerked his thumb.
There was the cooker. There was the pile of chicken left over from the night before. So I crawled under the counter and started handin’ the cookers over to my man. He carried them out and put them in the back of the car. Then we got the barrel of spice that I sent him. We took everything that had to do with Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Then I got into the front part of the restaurant and find the manager in there smokin’ a cigarette.
“Where’s the owner?” I asked.
“Not here yet.'”
“When he comes, tell him he’s out of the chicken business as far as Kentucky Fried Chicken is concerned. I’ve pulled his cookers, his spices, everything he’s got, and he won’t represent me anymore.”
The Col. physically shut down this franchise, and others like it, for fairly minor infractions against what he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken on.
“Innovation” at KFC? Grilled chicken isn’t anything innovative … it’s been around for years. And turning college coeds’ bottoms into walking, jiggling billboards is closer to turning the place into Hooters than honoring the Col.’s own Christian values. Sanders would not have approved of those sweatpants whatsoever. It would have sickened him.
Real innovation at Kentucky Fried Chicken meant the original recipe of eleven herbs and spices on fried chicken, and the Col.’s own development of the pressure fryer in 1939. It should not ever involve people like Hasselo, his trumped-up “innovations”, the current management, and their advertising cronies, absolutely “foolin’ around with his own ideas“, all of whom would have been gone years ago for not keeping to the Colonel’s core values.
I guess I’d better get over to a real KFC and get some real, honest, original recipe before these dad-gummed kids run the place right into the ground.
But honestly? I do believe it’s too late.
Kentucky Fried Chicken needs to return to its core values and concepts and properly honor its founder. To not do so is both ludicrous, and disrespectful to Colonel Harland Sanders, a true innovator.