The Recipe Is Safe: KFC And The Colonel’s Secret Spices

By Thomas Nagorski

Feb 10, 2009 2:12pm

From ABC’s Stu Schutzman…

Colonel Sanders can rest easy. His top-secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken is safely back in a Kentucky vault. The recipe, written in pencil and signed by the late "Colonel" Harland Sanders was moved temporarily so that new state-of-the-art security measures could be put in place. "It was very nerve-wracking," said a very stressed-out KFC CEO Roger Eaton. "I don’t want to be the only president who’s lost the recipe."

For years Sanders hid the recipe in his car. It purports to contain the identities of 11 herbs and spices without which Kentucky Fried Chicken would just be…fried chicken. The ingredients are split up and mixed in a separate secret location to further avoid discovery. Sanders developed the formula while operating a gas station in Kentucky in the 1930s. Along with the secret coating, Sanders instituted a quick-cooking method using a new invention called the pressure cooker. Before long he was selling more chicken than gas — and the rest is history.

The recipe, along with the vaunted Coca-Cola secret formula, has taken on marketing rock-star status. Coke’s secret formula, according to the sleuth at topsecretrecipes.com, is believed to be known by only 3 or 4 top Coke honchos at any given time. They never travel together and if they die or leave, replacement is immediate. KFC seems to be equally paranoid when it comes to its prize possession — especially since food detectives like William Poundstone are snooping around. In his book "Big Secrets" Poundstone claims to have "outed" the KFC secret-spice mixture. His conclusion? There are only 4 "secret" ingredients, not 11; salt, pepper, flour and MSG. (For that they hired super-cop Bo Dietl to be the last line of defense?)

Incidentally, it’s no secret that "Colonel" Sanders was never really a colonel….he was an enlisted man. The Governor of Kentucky awarded him the honorary title of "Kentucky Colonel" which Colonel Sanders parlayed into an empire.

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