KFC conquers China

Britain’s fried-chicken boom
Whether it’s from KFC, Tennessee, Dixie, Perfect or Golden, fried chicken is Britain’s fastest growing fast food. Can anything stem our appetite for it?

Tom Meltzer The Guardian, Friday February 18, 2011

“This is food as a basic necessity. They are coming because they’re hungry.” At Perfect Fried Chicken in Finsbury Park, north London, 26-year-old owner and manager Mohammed Miah talks to me in snatched moments amid an unending stream of orders. “We’ve got regular customers who eat it twice a day. I’m not judging them. Everyone’s got to eat. The government is always criticising fast-food companies but we are not pulling people off the streets.”

Nor do they need to be. Fried chicken is the fastest growing of all fast foods. In 2008, according to a Mintel report, fried chicken represented 4% of the country’s eating-out market, a sector estimated to be worth £15bn-£20bn. Its market share looks likely only to increase; fried chicken retailers saw sales grow by 36% from 2003 to 2008, compared with just 22% in the fast-food sector as a whole. Some councils are now taking measures to halt the influx of cheap takeaways.

Earlier this month, councillors in Oldham in Greater Manchester green-lit a plan, dubbed by local papers a “fat tax”, to impose a £1,000 fine on new takeaways opening in the area. The plan’s proposer, Labour councillor Steven Bashforth, says it wasn’t about obesity so much as the character of the town. “One of the things that actually triggered this was that KFC was given planning permission to open in a district centre that already had 16 takeaways. We literally have streets that consist of nothing but kebab shops, chippies, curry houses, pizza, chicken and burger outlets. To be quite frank, it’s a mess.”

The situation in Finsbury Park is similar. Competition, Miah says, is fierce. “In fried chicken right now, the industry is booming, especially in London. In the last six months we have had four open up in this area alone.” By my count there are now six other fried chicken retailers within a minute’s walk of his own.

He is not as worried for his business as you might expect. Despite an ever-more crowded marketplace, Miah’s store is still regularly packed. “You’ve got the lunchtime rush, you’ve got the school rush and you’ve got the evening rush. One moment it’s quiet and the next moment the whole shop is full.” As if on cue, a dozen young men step in from the cold, and the counter buzzes with hungry anticipation as the serving staff bellow their orders back into the kitchen.

One customer is especially keen to get his money’s worth. As Miah’s staff fill him a box of chips and chicken, he asks for mayonnaise. “More,” he says, “more, more.” When he’s handed the box, the food now nearly hidden beneath thick white dollops, he reaches for the ketchup and fills in the gaps. Then he reaches for the barbecue sauce. And then the mustard. “I haven’t eaten all day,” he says, pre-empting the judgment of no one in particular.

The industry has come a long way since Colonel set up the now-ubiquitous (and abbreviated) Kentucky Fried Chicken brand in the early 1950s. A decade later there were more than 400 stores across America and Canada. In 1965, the secret recipe found its way to the UK, and the first shop was opened in Fishergate, Preston. It was one of the first fast-food restaurants to come to the UK from the United States. Now the franchise here boasts more than 800 outlets, with another 38 due to open this year.

KFC is the undisputed market leader. Even at the height of the recession, KFC’s sales continued to grow, and its success has spawned a wealth of imitators, from Tennessee Fried Chicken to Texas, Dixie to Chicago, Perfect to Golden. They owe more than just the formulaic name to their market leader. Many of the smaller franchises’ founders and managers took their first steps in the business at KFC. One such graduate is 49-year-old David, the ever-smiling proprietor of Hollywood Fried Chicken in Earl’s Court, London. A veteran of the industry, David started working at KFC aged just 17.

“It wasn’t that big back then,” he tells me. “The shop was just like a post office. There were no machines to show your produce to the customer, and there were no other items on the menu, just chicken.” David is keen to emphasise how much the industry has changed, and how much he in particular has taken steps to make his food, if not exactly healthy, at least healthier. In a quiet moment between serving customers, he ushers me behind the counter and lifts a silver display tray, revealing a small pond of boiling water underneath. “When the chicken comes out it’s covered in fat, so we let it steam,” he explains. “To you it’s fresh, but I know it’s unhealthy.”

I ask him what he makes of the view that fast food has led to obesity; whether he feels the industry is at all to blame for the fact that a quarter of all British adults are now overweight. “At the end of the day, if they want to be obese they can be obese. You don’t become obese because of fried chicken. I know it’s a hazard to your health but it depends how you discipline yourself.”

Fat is not the only substance in which fried chicken is often hazardously rich. One of the primary causes of high blood pressure is a key ingredient in the moreish taste of fried chicken and fries: salt. High blood pressure is one of the primary causes of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, which account for around half of all deaths in the UK.

Katherine Jenner, a public health nutritionist, is campaign director at Consensus Action on Salt & Health (Cash). Thanks, in large part, to targets campaigned for by Cash, the UK now leads the world in salt reduction, and the salt content of supermarket foods have fallen by around a third. The same cannot be said for our fast-food outlets.

“The salt targets deal with retailers but don’t cover the out-of-home sector,” explains Jenner. “Particularly among young people and lower social groups, things like fried chicken have become the mainstay of their diets. It’s a gram of salt in a KFC chicken wing. You can be assured that the ones at the local outlets will be a lot more than that. Sainsbury’s is selling a chicken wing with 0.17g of salt per wing. That’s less than a fifth. So there’s absolutely no need for them to have this much salt in them.”

On both salt and fat, Jenner is keen to emphasise, KFC has been admirably co-operative. It was one of the first companies to reduce drastically its use of trans fats, and stopped salting its fries in 2005 as part of a wider salt-reduction programme. It is the small businesses that are hardest to convince to change.

At Hollywood Fried Chicken, David has already taken measures to address the problem. “I have made the menu much healthier,” he says. “I cut down on salt. The customers have a choice. They can add salt if they want.” He says he welcomes efforts to make people eat healthier. “If the government influences people to eat healthy we all have to respond to those changes. It all depends on disciplining the people, not disciplining the businesses. We are here for the consumer. The consumer has a choice. People choose fried chicken because the prices are a lot lower than any other food.”

Not everyone is as confident in the power of consumer choice. Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Cash, takes issue with the view that businesses should wait for their consumers to change. “Obviously, in an ideal world you would change consumer choices, but it’s almost impossible with salt. For the more deprived people in this country there’s no way they have any choice when they buy the cheapest food, there’s no way they’re going to look at the salt level.”

At Chicken Express in Finsbury Park, owner and manager Balasingham Pathmaseelan puts it plainly: “Fried chicken won’t work in Chelsea, Kensington or Hampstead, or anywhere like that. It’s only places for the lower middle class or working class. That’s the only place you can do it.”

No surprise that it is in the most deprived areas that fast-food outlets, and fried chicken places in particular, seem to thrive. Since 1998, the average income of the poorest households has risen by 17.5%. In the same time, food prices rose by 25%. In the borough of Tower Hamlets, home of the capital’s most deprived children, for every school there are 42 fast-food outlets. In inner-city London generally, the figure is 37. In the country at large, on average just 25. Tower Hamlets is what nutritionists call an obesogenic environment. According to one report, some children in the borough eat 16 takeaways a week.

Most, if not all, of the capital’s fried-chicken hotspots are to be found in low-income areas. On Whitechapel Road, familiar to most as the cheapest street on the Monopoly board, you can taste the chicken in the air. Here, as in Finsbury Park, there are half a dozen or more fried chicken shops just a stone’s throw from one another. Both are low-income areas with large Muslim populations; every one of the places I visit has been certified Halal. In City Fried Chicken in Whitechapel, the prayer call is broadcast to diners from a speaker just beside the counter.

It is here that I meet 20-year-old student Mizan, sitting with a plate of piled chicken wings. No drink, no fries, just 10 small folds of battered brown meat and bone. “I started eating fried chicken when I was one year old,” he tells me. “I’m not too bothered about its healthiness. I think it’s not too bad.” On the table opposite, 21-year-old Hassan is picking over a three-piece meal. Does he worry about his health? “I do worry about how healthy it is – mostly salmonella.” I ask him how often he comes here. “I would say I eat it a lot. Probably daily. It’s, like, addictive or something.”

He’s not wrong. “Salt is a very addictive substance,” explains Jenner. “The more you have of it, the more your taste buds adapt to it and the more you crave it. Particularly for young children it’s vitally important that they don’t get used to having too much salt.”

Back at Chicken Express, Pathmaseelan is well aware that his regular customers are doing their health few favours. “We have people who eat here every day,” he says. “I do try to warn them, but to survive you have to sell it.” The majority of his customers this afternoon are young black and Muslim men. The school rush interrupts this pattern: for an hour or so it is mostly children, some in packs with friends, others here with their mothers. The popularity of fried chicken among these schoolchildren is staggering. Further down the road, crowds of two or three dozen gather outside the chicken shops, clutching boxes and greasy legs and thighs, and littering the pavement with tiny, discarded bones.

I sit down with one of the younger customers to get his perspective. Why does he eat it? “Because it’s chicken and it tastes good and it fills you up,” explains 20-year-old student Akbar, here at Chicken Express for lunch with a friend. “I eat it two or three times a week now.” I ask him if he worries about how healthy it is. “As you can see,” he says, clutching his rather impressive belly, “I don’t really think about that.”


McDonald’s No Match for KFC in China as Colonel Rules Fast Food

By William Mellor – Jan 26, 2011 4:00 PM ET

On the edge of , just across the street from Mao Zedong’s tomb, He Yingying munches on a piece of chicken and gazes at the benign-looking figure beaming down at her.

“We love him,” she says, bursting into an impish smile.

The 21-year-old student from of Economics and Business isn’t referring to Mao, whose iconic official portrait dominates the square. She’s talking about a long-dead, white-bearded Kentucky colonel on the logo of the KFC restaurant where she’s feasting on her favorite fast food, Bloomberg Markets reports in its March issue.

In its home market, the U.S., KFC is struggling, an also- ran to , the world’s biggest restaurant company, and feuding with some of its own franchisees over how to halt declining profits.

In China, KFC has achieved such dominance over McDonald’s and local rivals that Colonel Harland Sanders’s image is a far more common sight in many Chinese cities than that of Mao. That accomplishment is striking in a country where foreign companies often stumbled and ran into roadblocks in the past.

The secret to the success of KFC’s parent company, Louisville, Kentucky-based , can be traced to its use of local ingredients — both in its management team and on its menus. In the 24 years it has been operating in China, Yum has hired Chinese managers to build partnerships with local companies in its expansion drive and used their expertise to offer an array of regional dishes that appeal to domestic tastes.

Local Flavors

Today, KFC customers can purchase a bowl of congee, a rice porridge that can feature pork, pickles, mushrooms and preserved egg, as well as buy a bucket of its famous fried chicken. In 2010, Yum expected to make 36 percent of an estimated $2 billion operating profit from 3,700 restaurants in China — eclipsing for the first time its total earnings from the 19,000 Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silver’s and A&W restaurants it owns in America. Yum announced on Jan. 18 that it will sell its Long John Silver’s and A&W chains in part to focus on China.

In the third quarter, Yum’s China profits soared 23 percent compared with a 2 percent decline in the U.S. Yum said in December it expected its U.S. business to return to profit over the whole of 2010. The company will announce fourth-quarter results on Feb. 2.

In a country that Western companies ranging from Dunkin’ Brands Inc. to EBay Inc. have struggled to penetrate, Yum has been opening one new restaurant every 18 hours. It now has a 40 percent market share among fast-food chains compared with 16 percent for McDonald’s, according to Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm.

Regional Reach

Starting with one restaurant in 1987, Yum now operates 3,200 KFCs and 500 Pizza Huts in 650 Chinese cities –stretching from the tropical southern island of Hainan to the North Korean border and the desert oases of the ancient Silk Road. KFC’s target: to lift that number fivefold to 20,000.

“Yum has become the most successful foreign company in China,” says James McGregor, a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and author of One Billion Customers: Lessons From the Front Lines of Doing Business in China (Free Press, 2005). “They got in early, they adapted the product, they expanded aggressively and they gave their Chinese managers real decision-making power.”

China Dependent

Yum’s Chinese success story also brings risks. Bearish investors such as hedge-fund managers Hugh Hendry and Jim Chanos are predicting that the world’s second-biggest economy, which has surged an average of 10 percent a year for more than three decades, could slow to a halt if asset bubbles burst and rising labor and food costs bite businesses.

Within four years, Yum will be dependent on China for more than half of its global revenue and profit margin, according to Warren Liu, a former Yum vice president who’s now China chairman of Investindustrial Advisors Co., a $2.7 billion European private-equity firm.

“I worry about too much reliance on a single market no matter how financially attractive that market is,” says Liu, who wrote the unauthorized KFC in China: Secret Recipe for Success (Wiley, 2008). ”If Yum’s China business went south, it would kill the stock,” McGregor says.

David Novak, Yum’s Louisville-based chairman and chief executive officer, says that’s not going to happen. He cites estimates from Morgan Stanley and Euromonitor that China’s economy will triple in size over the next decade, lifting another 200 million Chinese into the fast-food-consuming class.

“China is the best restaurant opportunity in the 21st century,” Novak, 58, says in an e-mail.

Doubling Down

Novak has doubled down on China. In 2004, he launched a new chain, East Dawning, which serves only Chinese fast food. Then, in 2009, he acquired a 27 percent stake in Little Sheep Group Ltd., a Hong Kong-listed company that operates 480 restaurants specializing in Mongolian hot pot dishes.

Investors are betting that Novak is right. In 2010, Yum shares jumped 40 percent on the New York Stock Exchange compared with a 23 percent rise in McDonald’s shares and a 13 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Earnings in the third quarter rose 6.9 percent to $357 million thanks to the surge in China profits. Since Yum Brands was spun off from PepsiCo Inc. in 1997, the stock has risen more than sixfold, compared with the 37 percent rise in the S&P 500 to Jan. 25.

”If you want an easy way to get a piece of the China consumer story, Yum is a good stock to buy into,” says Shaun Rein, Shanghai-based managing director of China Market Research Group.

Margins Squeezed

Yet Liu Yang, chairman and chief investment officer of the Chinese unit of London-based Atlantis Investment Management Ltd., says she wouldn’t buy the stock because higher regional minimum wages have pushed up labor costs by as much as 21 percent in major cities and food inflation that hit 9.6 percent in December will increase the price of raw materials.

“Yum used to be a good China consumer play, but they will face a squeeze on their margins,” says Hong Kong based Liu, who helps manage $4 billion.

Yum executives said at an investor conference in New York in December that the growing importance of the China business could lead to more volatility in the bottom line.

“We want to become less China dependent,” Novak told investors. ”I don’t know if there’s another China, but I think India, Russia — you combine a few of these opportunities, and you’ll create another China over time.”

Yum’s success in China has resulted in large part from its ability to create a menu that combines its traditional finger- lickin’ Western fast food with chopstick-lickin’ dishes that appeal to Chinese tastes.

Dragon Twister

While McDonald’s restaurants in China mostly sell the same U.S.-style burgers, KFC’s menu features dishes that would be un- recognizable to its patrons in the U.S. Alongside the Colonel’s ”secret recipe” fried chicken, Chinese KFCs also offer options such as the Dragon Twister, a chicken wrap in a Peking duck-type sauce, and spicy tofu chicken rice based on the cuisine of Sichuan province, home of China’s hottest dishes.

Pizza Huts in China bear even less resemblance to their Western counterparts. While a KFC in the People’s Republic still looks like a Western-style fast-food restaurant, Chinese Pizza Huts are marketed as sophisticated venues for the legion of increasingly affluent and status-conscious Chinese. Seated in comfortably cushioned booths, customers can choose from a 106- item menu that includes wine and Chinese-influenced dishes such as scallop croquettes with crushed seaweed and even French- inspired escargot.

Circumcision Parties

Yum’s cultural flexibility doesn’t end with the localized menu. While fast-food restaurants in the West often host kids’ birthday parties, KFCs in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang autonomous region that’s home to the Muslim Uyghur people, advertise parties for the families of boys who have just undergone the religious ritual of circumcision.

“KFC is certainly doing better than McDonald’s at becoming more Chinese,” says Su Yi, 28, a lawyer, as he pauses between spoonfuls of mushroom, bacon and rice one recent lunchtime in a packed KFC opposite Beijing’s Jishuitan subway station. “I have lunch at KFC twice a week because there’s always one close by. And when I’m out on a date and want to impress a girl, I take her to Pizza Hut.”

China’s embrace of Yum’s brands — and vice versa — is most apparent in the center of Beijing, where Colonel Sanders meets Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square. On the ground level of the three-story KFC, an elaborate mural of the Great Wall greets diners.

‘Fast-Food Culture’

On the second floor, the decor is meant to resemble a hutong — the traditional Beijing neighborhoods that are disappearing to make way for high-rise office and apartment blocks. The third floor doubles as a gallery for local photographers and painters. A plaque at the entrance describes it as “an exchange channel between KFC fast-food culture and Chinese folk culture.”

KFC was founded by entrepreneur Harland Sanders, a former farmhand and streetcar conductor, in 1952. His handwritten recipe for the chain’s fried-chicken batter remains under lock and key in Louisville. The colonel — an honorary title bestowed by the state of Kentucky — sold out for $2 million in 1964 to private investors who took the company public four years later, though Sanders continued to be the main spokesman for the chain.

Losing ‘Fried’

In 1986, , as it was then known, was acquired by PepsiCo, which changed the restaurant unit’s name to KFC in 1991 as health-conscious Americans began shunning fried food.

In 1997, PepsiCo spun off KFC and its other fast-food businesses into a new company called Tricon Global Restaurants Inc. The company changed its name to Yum! Brands in 2002.

KFC’s push into Asia faltered at first. In 1973, the company opened 11 restaurants in the then British colony of Hong Kong but closed them within two years because it couldn’t win over local consumers. A decade later, it returned to Hong Kong and entered Taiwan, where an early joint venture with Japanese partners also ran into trouble.
“KFC’s early failure in Hong Kong and Taiwan served as valuable and inexpensive lessons in preparation for its entry into China,” author Liu says. When KFC arrived in 1987 beside Tiananmen Square, China’s population was looking to the West with anticipation, Liu says.

Local Management

“The first KFC restaurant opened to the warmest embrace imaginable,” Liu writes in his book on KFC. The company had also chosen the right joint-venture partners — Beijing Corp. of Animal Production, Processing, Industry & Commerce and Beijing Travel & Tourism Corp. — that were both state-owned, providing the guanxi, or connections, that were essential when setting up a business in China back then.

An even more important decision was to entrust management of the China business to ethnic Chinese from Taiwan, Liu says.

While other foreign companies entering China recruited American or Southeast Asian-born Chinese managers, Yum hired Chinese from Taiwan, who speak the same Mandarin Chinese as mainlanders and understand their culture better, he says.

Those employees were key in helping open up supply lines to allow Yum to reach Chinese locations out of the reach of rival food companies run by overseas managers. The leader of what Taiwan-born Liu describes in his book as the “Taiwan Gang” is Sam Su, 58, chairman of the China business, who in 2008 was promoted to vice chairman of the main board in Louisville and who earned $6.7 million in 2009 — second only to the $13.1 million earned by CEO Novak.

“Sam is a legend in China business,” says McGregor, the former chamber of commerce chairman. Su wasn’t available for comment for this article.

U.S. Struggles

Yum’s performance in China contrasts with its struggles in the U.S., where revenue declined in 2008 and 2009.

Even a promotion involving Oprah Winfrey backfired. In May 2009, Winfrey’s television show offered free meals with online coupons. The result sparked such a rush that KFC stopped redeeming the coupons two days into the scheduled two-week promotion, prompting consumers to sue Yum. KFC President Roger Eaton was forced to apologize for the fiasco.

After the free-meal giveaway, grilled-chicken sales continued to slide, the dissident franchisees claim. In 2010, some of Yum’s franchisees sued the company in an attempt to prevent it from promoting the healthier grilled chicken ahead of the more popular fried product, saying it was damaging the brand. Both the customer and franchisee lawsuits are continuing in the U.S.

New Competitors

It isn’t all roses in China either. Western companies making everything from fast food to autos are being challenged by lower-cost local upstarts. In fast food, Yum is also facing increased competition from Asian chains such as Dicos, a unit of closely held Ting Hsin International Group; Yoshinoya, owned by Tokyo-based Yoshinoya Holdings Co.; and Yonghe King and Hongzhuangyuan, both owned by Manila-based Jollibee Foods Corp., a company that already outsells McDonald’s and Yum in the Philippines.

McDonald’s is also mounting a belated challenge. It aims to almost double its 1,100 China stores by 2013, China CEO Kenneth Chan said in an interview in December.

For now, though, China’s love affair with Yum’s brands continues. In the KFC overlooking Mao’s tomb, student He Yingying swallows her last morsel of chicken, pronounces it “hao chi,” or delicious, and takes another glance at the colonel’s portrait.

“Did he really only sell the business for $2 million?” she asks incredulously. “He must have regretted it later.”

Sanders died in 1980, never imagining that his Southern specialties would one day lure millions of Chinese customers, thanks to KFC’s not-so-secret recipe of local business knowledge, Western glamour and spicy regional fare.

– With assistance from Michael Wei in Beijing, Mark Lee and Frank Longid in Hong Kong, Andrew M. Harris in Chicago and Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware. Editors: David Ellis, Jonathan Neumann.


, and a secret manuscript

By Associated Press, Published: November 10

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Paula Deen, step aside. Colonel Harland Sanders is about to teach America “real old-time country and farm cooking before it’s forgotten.”

Yes, Colonel Sanders.

On yellowed pages hidden for decades, the white-jacketed man with a special fried chicken recipe and a vision that helped create the modern fast-food industry reveals he saw a future in another lucrative market — celebrity food books.

The recent discovery of an unpublished manuscript written by the founder of KFC shows that while Sanders was helping build Kentucky Fried Chicken into a global brand, he was recording his life and love of food — and recipes — for the world.

No, not THAT recipe.

Sanders’ secret mix of 11 herbs and spices remains locked inside the company’s vault.

But the manuscript from the mid-1960s, found recently by an employee rummaging through KFC’s archives, again shows that the man who started the world’s most popular chicken chain from a Social Security check and his secret recipe was a man before his time.

“This is a new kind of book,” Sanders wrote in the first chapter of an approximately 200-page, typewritten manuscript that KFC plans to offer up on the Internet. “There’s never been another written like it as far as I know.

“It’s the story of a man’s life and the story of the food he’s cooked and eaten, running right along with it.”

The half-inch-thick document is chock full of homespun anecdotes and life lessons from Sanders, who struck it rich late in life. It also includes a heaping helping of his favorite personal recipes.

“To me, my recipes are priceless,” he wrote.

You can say that again.
The secret blend of herbs and spices, one of the most enduring corporate secrets in American food folklore, isn’t revealed in the manuscript, KFC executives say.

But the Colonel proved he was more than a chicken man. On these pages are preserved his personal recipes for omelets, pancakes, casseroles, pies and many more dishes that he said reflected his affinity for “real old-time country and farm cooking.” It’s a veritable smorgasbord of main dishes, side dishes, desserts and sauces.

And the man who built the KFC chain by cooking up batches of chicken for prospective franchisees promised to offer insights into his culinary style: “I’ll be telling you how to prepare it like a man who’s talking to you right over your kitchen stove,” he wrote.

The company is treating the manuscript like its own Holy Grail. The manuscript is tucked inside KFC’s electronic safe in a vault at its Louisville headquarters. It sits next to the Colonel’s famous handwritten chicken recipe.

His philosophy on life and cooking spring to life from the pages, 31 years after his death at age 90 in 1980.

“We can’t wait to share its secrets with KFC fans around the globe,” said Roger Eaton, the restaurant chain’s CEO. “Colonel Sanders was a lifelong cook and sage and his life lessons are just as powerful and relevant today as they were 40 years ago.”

The company plans to publish the manuscript online, probably sometime next year, said Laurie Schalow, a spokeswoman for Yum Brands Inc., the parent of KFC. The Colonel’s insights on hard work and giving it your best will be available for free, she said.

KFC plans to share some of the recipes, but others may stay hidden in the vault.

“We’re in the early stages of testing recipes and are excited about the potential to incorporate some of the newly discovered dishes alongside the Colonel’s Original Recipe on menus around the globe,” Eaton said.

The company says it serves more than 12 million customers daily in 109 countries and territories around the world. It still plasters the Colonel’s image on its signs and chicken buckets. The chain has been struggling in the U.S. while its overseas business has been booming, especially in China, where KFC has become a fast-growing brand.

The company has no idea why the manuscript was never published. Sanders took another crack at an autobiography, titled “Life As I Have Known It Has Been ‘Finger Lickin’ Good,’” which was published in 1974. But the book didn’t include his recipes.

The unpublished manuscript was unearthed recently by Yum Brands employee Amy Sherwood while she was doing research.
“It was in an envelope,” she said. “I opened it up and immediately recognized that it was a treasure and a significant discovery.”

KFC said it concluded the text was written in 1965 or 1966 through chats with current and former employees who knew or worked with Sanders. Internal documents also validated that he was working on an autobiography with recipes during that period, it said.

In 1964, Sanders sold his interest in the U.S. company for $2 million to a group of investors, but he remained the company’s pitchman, becoming one of the world’s most recognized faces.

In his manuscript, Sanders offers up lessons on business and life. “I’ve only had two rules,” he wrote. “Do all you can and do it the best you can. It’s the only way you ever get that feeling of accomplishing something.”

Sanders extolled the virtues of simple, home-style cooking while taking shots at other forms of culinary advice.

“I’ve read hundreds of cookbooks,” he wrote. “For my money they are the bird.”

He said just a few of his recipes “are worth more than all the imported recipes, with names an ordinary man or woman can’t even pronounce, put together.”

“The way I see it, if you’ve bought this book, you’ve bought yourself a bargain,” Sanders said.


About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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