You can’t fry a billion chickens without getting your hands a little greasy. Renowned the world over for its “finger-licking-good” chicken with its secret blend of herbs and spices, the KFC brand wasn’t always the powerhouse it is today. It took the blood, sweat, and tears of many people to bring you the Kentucky Fried Chicken that you know. And in a few short moments, you’re going to find out we’re not being metaphorical when we say people have died for these buckets of chicken. Prepare yourself for the wild past (and present) of this chicken cookin’ restaurant and its unforgettable founder.
Related: 10 Bizarre Foreign Versions Of American Fast Food
10 A Business Disagreement Becomes a Murder
Born in the 1890s, the world Colonel Sanders grew up in was a much different one compared to the society we enjoy today. Running a Shell gas station, the Colonel had an issue with a rival gas station owner going out under cover of darkness and painting over the Colone’s signs, pointing customers to his business instead. Without much in the way of police intervention, the Colonel elected to head over to his rival’s place of work and declare that he would kill him if he painted on his signs again.
Not one to worry about a little death threat, the rival business owner went right out and started painting over the Colonel’s signs again, but this time, the Colonel and his workers caught him in the act. Surprisingly, the man drew a pistol and fired upon Sanders, striking one of the gas station managers and killing them. The Colonel retaliated, striking the man with gunfire of his own, but failed to kill him. With his competition now in prison for murder, the Colonel was free to focus on his true dream… or was it his nightmare?
9 Colonel Sanders Hated KFC
The franchise game is for the young’uns. When KFC was rising through the ranks and reaching the masses, Colonel Sanders was already 65 years old. Hardly the spry gun-toting man he once was. Sensing he wasn’t cut out for the work ahead of him, he opted to sell the business in 1964 for the paltry (*poultry*) sum of two million dollars and a contract that agreed to continue using his likeness for the restaurant. He was 73 at the time.
Shortly after selling, the Colonel became more bitter than a day old biscuit, throwing tantrums in KFC stores, going to conferences to tell the masses how much he hated them, and even starting a lawsuit against his old company while trying to start a new chicken business to compete against them. Ultimately walking away with another million dollars, the franchise considered it a small price to pay to get the Colonel to agree to stop making scenes in their stores.
8 The KFC You Know Today Exists Thanks to Wendy’s
While they aren’t exactly considered competition between one another seeing as one serves burgers and the other chicken, it can come off a bit surprising to know that the brand of KFC today only exists because of Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy’s fast food chain. While working for the Colonel, Thomas rose through the rankes, offering ideas to make the franchise a success. Dedicated to working on brand recognition, Dave pushed the Colonel to appear in television commercials, to cover his stores in the standout red and white colors, and possibly most important of all, the creation of the KFC bucket.
Dave Thomas was so good at his job that he was sent out into the field to personally work on getting franchises off the ground. When he eventually became dissatisfied with his inability to find a burger joint he liked, he instead opted to just open his own thanks to the money he earned working for the Colonel.
7 KFC Gets Sexy with a Dating Game
Since the Colonel’s death more than three decades ago, the company has been trying to think of ways to branch out with its advertising. One such attempt of trying to be hip and “with it” involved KFC’s marketing releasing a free-to-play game where you could woo (or be wooed) by the Colonel himself, or at least a very masculine and handsome version of the chicken man.
While most video games that are made to advertise a game or product tend to do abysmally, “I Love You, Colonel Sanders!” has stood the test of time, with a near-perfect rating and glowing reviews. While it may just be for the meme, it’s hard to argue against a game that did so well despite the fact it was about wanting to lick a 100-year-old man’s greasy fingers.
6 The Colonel Was a Bit of a Jerk to Women
That guy going around shooting people and getting into fist fights wasn’t exactly the nicest guy in the room to women, either? Get outta town! For a man who sold fried chicken to the masses and drinkable amounts of gravy, you would think the Colonel would be a little more forgiving of people on the more… uh, generous side, but claims to the contrary seem to persist.
One such event occurred during a fan meet. The Colonel took pictures and signed autographs with people who had specifically come to see him. Included in this were a group of women, fans of the Colonel and his fattening chicken. Even while signing autographs and greeting the women, he couldn’t help but comment on how fat they all were, joking that they waddled around.
5 KFC Releases Its Own Console
After the surprising success of their free-to-play dating game, where could KFC go next to capitalize on their fan favor? If you guessed “a gaming console that also cooked chicken to a fine golden crisp while you played,” we would assume you cheated and looked it up because nobody would have guessed that.
As of the writing of this list, the KFConsole still has not been released since its announcement in 2020. Although, as all reports seem to agree, it is a real product that will see the light of day eventually. How safe can it be to cook chicken while getting lost in a game? Can a console even handle the excessive heat needed to cook food? Only time will tell.
4 KFC Proves We Don’t Deserve Nice Things
Some people thought the KFConsole was just an oddly timed joke. A nice bit of advertising during a time of new console releases, but these other products… these other products are a sick joke, a Tower of Babel in the world of food. We are, of course, talking about the KFC Double Down, a spit-in the face of humanity. A bacon, cheese, and BBQ sandwich, but instead of buns, it is encased in two pieces of fried chicken.
Does that amalgamation of terror sound less than appealing to you or possibly not disgusting enough? Then KFC has you covered with something somehow even worse than the Double Down, the KFC Doughnut Sandwich. While much like a regular chicken sandwich, the chicken is encased in two whole glazed donuts instead of sandwhich bns. Why? Because we have been put on this planet to suffer.
3 That Time KFC Ran out of Chicken
With worries of global food shortages on the horizon, the idea of going to the store and not being able to find basic necessities is a terrifying reality we may soon have to face. But in 2018, a simple act of trying to cut costs by switching delivery operations left KFC chains in the United Kingdom completely without chicken for an extended period. This forced them to close their stores across the country or ask customers if they’d be okay with a chicken free KFC meal instead.
The company took the mess in stride though, releasing a full front-page ad in major newspapers across the country, apologizing for running out of chicken, rebranding their famous KFC bucket with a cheeky FCK instead.
2 KFC Quits Using Risky Chicken
It is the far gone year of 2016. People coughed openly into their hands and high-fived each other while waiting in lines to lick door knobs. The fear that a disease could cross over from animals to humans was a thing of sci-fi, at least if you were just an average Joe. Behind the scenes, consumer groups were pushing fast food chains to stop filling their cows and chickens with human antibiotics because of the very real risk that it could make antibiotic resistant super bugs capable of decimating populations.
As of that year, most of the top chicken slinging brands had agreed to stop using human antibiotics in their chickens completely, all except for KFC. While they had regulations to not use the antibiotics to increase the size of their poultry, they still okayed the use of some of them as late as 2017, a full year after calls to stop the practice entirely. They did however decide to end the practice entirely, at least in the USA…
1 KFC Trinidad Made Some Tone-Deaf Tweets
Everybody loves fried chicken. It’s a meal that honestly just can’t be done wrong (unless you smash donuts into it), so it is odd that there is such a prevalent racial stereotype that black people specifically love fried chicken. During Emancipation Day in Trinidad, a holiday made to celebrate the end of slavery in their country, the local KFC branch saw it fit to celebrate by creating a graphic of a piece of fried chicken casting a shadow of a black power fist on the wall behind it.
Immediately, calls of tone-deaf racism filled the air, and the KFC account that posted it pulled it down and issued an apology, but the damage was done. During the height of the George Floyd protests, an official piece of KFC artwork of a black power chicken fist was making the rounds, usually accompanied by false claims that it was posted during Black History Month. It has become so ingrained that just googling KFC Trinidad brings up pages of articles trying to refute its existence.