What Would the Colonel Think?

Yes, I am talking about KFC, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, as us old folks remember it by.  We grew up with Kentucky Fried Chicken being represented by Colonel Harlan Sanders – the white haired, white suited founder and spokesman.

Last week, the KFC Corporation announced that by 2018 all their chickens would be grown without antibiotics.  Now mind you—I am a proponent of raising chicken without antibiotics and Rogers Poultry has already switched a large part of our production to ABF (antibiotic free) birds.  But let me assure you that it does not enhance the flavor in any way. The question is– is it healthier?  We will let the shoppers and diners of the world decide that.

Either way, Colonel Sanders wouldn’t have “given a lick” about antibiotics.  His main concern was producing the best tasting fried chicken in the world.  And in my mind (and taste buds) – he did!  Since then, there have been many variations of some really good fried chicken—but in his time and with his original recipe-it was the best!

So, the current KFC Corp has not only decided to go ABF—but also to bring back the Colonel as their spokesman.  Some of the “pretenders” portraying the Colonel include Randy Quaid, Jim Gaffigan, George Hamilton, and now Rob Lowe.  But to us old timers these actors will never take the place of the real Colonel—–Colonel Harlan Sanders!

The real Colonel Sanders was born in 1890 into a Christian Family with his Mother continually warning him of the “evils” of alcohol—tobacco—gambling—and whistling on Sundays (at least I don’t whistle so I’ve got that going for me).  In 1930, he operated a service station (a gas station where you actually got service) and this is where he first started serving his fried chicken.  Yes, this is true because back then some country service stations were also mini restaurants.  I know this first-hand because my Dad had a Phillips 66 gas station back then with 3 stools, a counter, and served some great “down home” food.

In 1952, Sanders sold his first franchise with his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices and called it Kentucky Fried Chicken.  The franchisee paid .04 per chicken!!  In 1963, Sanders coined the phrase “Finger Lickin Good!” In 1964, after having thousands of franchises, he sold his company for 2 million dollars. After selling, he remained the company’s spokesman and travelled around 200,000 miles a year promoting Kentucky Fried Chicken.  He was also the ultimate “secret shopper” as he would go from one franchise to another and taste the food. If the food disappointed him, he would push it to the floor and call it “expletive slop.” On one of his secret stops he exclaimed “My God this gravy is horrible.  They buy tap water for .15 to .20 cents per thousand gallon and then they mix it with flour and starch and end up with a pure wallpaper paste.  And I know wallpaper paste, by God, because I’ve seen my Mother make it!!”

The Colonel died in 1980.  There will never be another real Colonel Sanders and I wonder what expletive he would have used if had found out they were switching to healthy chickens??

“Healthy Fried Chicken”—  sort of an oxymoron don’t you think?  But o so good!


George Saffarrans

CEO, Rogers Poultry