You know the hot shame you feel when you want to say something mean about one friend to your other friend and accidentally text "Nancy's being such a troll" to the person you're shit-talking? But once it's out of the box you can never put it back in? That's a little bit of how Joe Ledington, nephew of Colonel Harland Sanders, must be feeling right about now.
Ledington's uncle is the Colonel—as in, the guy who came up with KFC's original fried chicken recipe. You might call it marketing, but KFC has made a real thing out of how guarded a secret the recipe is, even going as far as to sue a couple that claimed to have found a handwritten copy of the recipe.
Ledington, 67, met with Chicago Tribune writer Jay Jones at the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin, Kentucky, to talk about the newly restored restaurant there. Ledington brought along a family scrapbook and went through the pages reminiscing about his uncle.
Then, he got to the last will and testament of his aunt, which is when shit got really crazy.
Jones spotted handwriting on the back page of the will, and it seemed to list a recipe. He asked Ledington if this could be the recipe.
"That is the original 11 herbs and spices that were supposed to be so secretive," Ledington said. (He would backpedal later.)
Here's how the recipe read on the document:
11 spices — Mix with 2 cups white fl
1) 2/3 Ts salt
2) 1/2 Ts thyme
3) 1/2 Ts basil
4) 1/3 Ts oregano
5) 1 Ts celery salt
6) 1 Ts black pepper
7) 1 Ts dried mustard
8) 4 Ts paprika
9) 2 Ts garlic salt
10) 1 Ts ground ginger
11) 3 Ts white pepper
Jones followed up with Yum! Brands, KFC's parent company, to check on the veracity of this recipe. They didn't confirm or deny, only saying, "Lots of people through the years have claimed to discover or figure out the secret recipe, but no one's ever been right."
A spokesperson then told the New York Times, "Many people have made these claims over the years and no one has been accurate—this one isn't either."
Of course, the Tribune test kitchen tried the recipe and compared it with the real thing. "How was it? Well, really good. In fact, tasters agreed the test kitchen fried chicken was even better than the Colonel's," wrote Joe Gray. And when the test kitchen added some MSG to that blend of 11 herbs and spices, they had an identical match on their hands. Which I guess means that the handwritten recipe on Ledington's aunt's will isn't "accurate" but it's pretty much there.
So, try it for yourself, or...do what I would do and hit the drive-through for some KFC fried chicken. It's way easier.
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