KFC Drops Suit Over Original Recipe

ByABC News
January 29, 2001, 6:17 AM

Jan. 29 -- KFC today dropped its lawsuit against a couple who thought they had come across a long-sought secret the ingredients to Colonel Sanders' world famous chicken.

KFC officials today said the handwritten note found by restauranteurs Tommy and Cherry Settle in the basement of a home in Kentucky once owned by Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders does not contain his secret recipe.

"We've been looking at a list of ingredients provided to us by a couple in Shelbyville, the Settles, to see if they have the original recipe, and I'm here to say that they do not," said KFC spokeswoman Laura Melillo. "Some of the spices in the secret recipe are missing."

Melillo added that the contents of the handwritten note looked more like a "stuffing recipe."

The Settles stumbled upon a dusty, 1964 leather-bound datebook in the basement of the home while sorting some old boxes 16 months ago. In it was a note, allegedly handwritten by Colonel Sanders, that contained 11 herbs and spices in specific percentages.

"I was thumbing through it and in the back I found it." Cherry Settle said. "I looked, and I counted, and I thought gee, that's 11. Eleven spices, herbs and spices."

Fast Kentucky Fried Lawsuit

The Settles, who say they knew Sanders well and had bought the home from him in the 1970s, say they were amazed by their find, and considered selling the datebook through an auction house. They decided to contact KFC to see if the recipe was authentic. But once KFC was notified, lawyers and a lawsuit soon followed.

"We took it very seriously," said Melillo. "We filed the lawsuit to protect the quality of our product."

KFC which is now part of the Tricon Global Restaurant Corporation is fervent in its efforts to keep the recipe secret, Melillo said. The company buys spices from different vendors, so no one vendor can ever add it all up.

KFC officials make the few employees who do know the recipe sign confidentiality agreements, and the company goes to court when the safety of the secret is threatened.