Beginning with its first location in an old gas station in 1930, Kentucky Fried Chicken how boasts 18,000 locations worldwide. But KFC’s history includes a few odd footnotes. And here they are.
- Chain founder Harlan Sanders passed away in 1980 at age 90, but he’s much better known as “Colonel Sanders.” It wasn’t a nickname bestowed by his company’s marketing department. In 1936, Kentucky governor Ruby Laffoon declared Sanders an honorary “Kentucky colonel.” But while the title was merely a superlative, Sanders began dressing the part, growing a goatee and wearing a white suit and string tie for public appearances, embodying the image of Southern gentleman. His friends and staff even started calling him “Colonel” instead of “Harland” or “Mr. Sanders.”
- In 1995, the franchise opened its first location in India, in the city of Bangalore, it didn’t go so well. The restaurant was slammed with protests organized by everybody from local farmers’ associations to anti-globalization demonstrators. It was ransacked by looters several times, which forced the local police department to guard the place around-the-clock for a year. Things have since calmed down—there are now more than 30 KFC locations in India.
- The franchise is incredibly popular in Japan, where visiting KFC has become a beloved Christmas tradition.
- KFC¹s legendary “11 Herbs and Spices” remain a trade secret to this day. The only full copy of the recipe is supposedly locked inside a vault deep within the company’s headquarters. Nevertheless, many people have tried to crack the code over the years. In 2009, a food writer named Ron Douglas claimed that he figured it out and published it in a cookbook called America’s Most Wanted Recipes. According to Douglas, the 11 mysterious herbs are oregano, chili powder, sage, basil, marjoram, pepper, salt, paprika, onion salt, garlic powder, and MSG.
- It’s not an April’s Day joke. This spring, KFC debuted its weirdest product to date: the chicken corsage. This prom accoutrement consists of a drumstick and a small bouquet of baby’s breath. It’s available for purchase in Louisville only, and the first hundred sold out.