KFC’s corporate parent has insisted once more that a Chicago newspaper story last week purportedly revealing founder Colonel Harland Sanders‘ closely-guarded recipe of 11 herbs and spices got it wrong.
But Yum’s latest pushback raises new and vital questions about what it really knows!
The story gained renewed traction when The New York Times picked it up yesterday, prompting Yum to issue a statement to the nation’s newspaper of record and its 77 million readers:
“Many people have made these claims over the years and no one has been accurate — this one isn’t either.” That was essentially the same thing Louisville-based Yum told the Chicago Tribune.
Last week, a Tribune freelance writer said Sanders’ nephew had revealed the recipe after discovering it in his aunt’s scrapbook; she was Sanders’ second wife. In a follow-up interview, the nephew, Joe Ledington, a 67-year-old retired school teacher outside Corbin, Ky., tried to walk back his claim, apparently worried he’d let the chicken out of the bag.
But Yum’s insistence raises so many questions, including:
How far off is the Tribune recipe — a grain or two of salt, or a whole lot more? A merely teeny-tiny variation in the published recipe and the one held in a Yum vault may be a distinction without a difference.
How does Yum’s public relations department verify these recurring claims, given how difficult it must be to access the original recipe, said to be on a yellowing piece of paper moved to a more secure location with great fanfare eight years ago? Must Yum CEO Greg Creed personally unearth the company’s version of a launch code to open the vault, then make the comparison himself? Does accessing the vault require two — or more! — executives to combine codes they carry separately? Is Creed followed around by an aide bearing Yum’s own gold codes football?
It’s the original recipe Colonel Harland Sanders developed in 1939 for his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Ky., the one with 11 herbs and spices that launched today’s 20,000-location KFC. The Chicago Tribune has published what it says is the top-secret recipe, which a freelance writer got during a visit with Sanders’ nephew, Joe Ledington, a 67-year-old retired school teacher outside Corbin.
Ledington told writer Jay Jones he’d found the recipe, handwritten in blue ink, tucked inside a photo album he inherited from his aunt, Sanders’ second wife. The newspaper included a photo of it with a story today about the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin.
But as even the daily points out, many others have claimed to have seen what KFC calls one of America’s most valuable trade secrets. “But no one’s ever been right,” the company told the Tribune.
AMAZON awarded a robotics prize to a team from the TU Delft Robotics Institute in the Netherlands and the company Delft Robotics in the retailer’s second-annual competition to find robots that will someday work alongside humans — or in place of them — in Amazon’s massive distribution centers. At the contest in Germany’s Leipzig, Delft’s robot picked items from a mock warehouse shelf at a speed of around 100 an hour with a failure rate of 16.7%. That’s slow compared to what a human can manage (around 400 items an hour), but a big improvement over last year’s winner, which managed just 30 items an hour. This was the second year for the competition (The Verge). Amazon employs 6,000 workers in the Louisville area at mammoth distribution centers in Jeffersonville, and in Bullitt County’s Shepherdsville.
PIZZA HUT: In South Korea today, another 25 franchisees filed a lawsuit seeking repayment of $657,553 the restaurant chain’s Korean national headquarters charged them for marketing and other services — fees the franchise owners said were unjustified. Their suit came a week after the Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of 88 other owners who had asserted the came claim. The dispute dates to March 2007, when the headquarters demanded franchises remit 0.55% of their profits on grounds they’d benefited from marketing, operational, and customer-service counseling provided by the head office. In April 2012, headquarters boosted the fee again, to 0.8%, and required owners sign another contract agreeing to pay the charges. It also unilaterally nullified contracts with owners that either failed to pay the fee or delayed payment (Korea JoongAng Daily).
HAIER‘s appliances, electronics and ductless air conditioners were incorporated into one of Cocoon9’s container homes at last week’s Dwell on Design residential trade show in Los Angeles. The prefab “plug-and-play houses” contain smart technology, energy efficiencies and versatile spaces, delivered fully assembled with quality construction and high-end finishes within four months (Twice). Haier bought GE Appliances last month for $5.6 billion and its 6,000-employee Appliance Park in Louisville’s southend.
PAPA JOHN’S: In the U.K.’s Hull, Papa John’s is opening as many as four restaurants over the next year in the Kingdom’s next “City of Culture,” according to a shy franchise owner (the local newspaper says he “asked not to be named at this time”) who says the eateries could create as many as 25 jobs per location. They would be the city’s first Papa John’s (Daily Mail). All about the U.K.’s cities-of-culture program.
HUMANA is moving more than 120 employees in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., to two new separate locations as part of a broader effort to put sales and service workers in retail settings closer to members (Daily Record).
In New Zealand, a reformed “KFC queen” has gone public about her efforts to lose weight in a newspaper series the paper very awkwardly describes as being about a group “taking responsibility for their own health within a family-based, non-judgmental environment that supports all levels, sizes and ages.” Rachel Rae told the Taranaki Daily News: “I loved junk food, I loved fish and chips, and I was known as the KFC queen. I would go there about three times a week. Whatever was quick, filling and fattening — sounds gross eh?” (Daily Star).
In Japan, KFC is offering all-can-eat-in-45-minutes meals every Wednesday night between July 13 and Aug. 31, further expanding a special promotion once only offered on founder Colonel Harland Sanders‘s Sept. 9 birthday (Rocket News 24).
And in Australia’s Brisbane, KFC told diner Eden Hoffschildt that what she thought was a chicken’s brain cooked into in a recent meal was actually a kidney. “There is no health risk associated,” the fast-food chain said, in a reply to Hoffschildt’s Facebook posting about the incident. “The kidney is actually present in the thigh piece of chicken supplied by most leading Aussie chicken suppliers and can actually be found in cooked chicken bought from most leading supermarket” (Courier Mail). It was the second case in the past week of the wrong chicken part found in a Brisbane restaurant meal, and one of a series in recent years at other KFCs in Australia, the U.K., and the United States.
Australia’s nickname is Oz, which is another reason why this scene from the 1939 classic is so apropos:
In other and less gross news, tonight’s Mega Millions lottery jackpot is now an estimated $449 million. That would be the seventh biggest jackpot of all time, including the even better-known Powerball (WDRB). Blaming the Obama Administration’s energy policies, Murray Energy of Clairsville, Ohio, says it could lay off up to 4,400 coal miners by September in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Utah and Pennsylvania (WDRB, too). In the year’s first three months, statewide coal employment plunged 18%, to 6,900 — lowest in 118 years (Herald-Leader). A 26-year-history of coal losses, county-by-county (WFPL).
And it’s perpetually tanned George Hamilton, the fourth actor to play KFC founder Harland Sanders since the chain revived his character last year.
The new commercials start airing Sunday, KFC says in a press release. Jim Gaffigan, who followed Norm MacDonald and Darrell Hammond, will continue as Sanders in marketing for Original Recipe chicken.
The campaign by Wieden+Kennedy will include four spots — two at 30 seconds, and two at 15 seconds — all airing nationally. The ads feature Hamilton as the colonel with an exaggerated suntan to emphasize his “extra crispy” character.
“I like to think that I know a thing or two about being extra crispy,” Hamilton said in the press release. “One could argue that my entire career has been leading up to this role.”
This isn’t the first time Hamilton, 76, has agreed to do a self-mocking TV spot. In 2003, he promoted oven-toasted Ritz Chips and toasted Pita Thins.
The glittering roster of celebrities at yesterday’s Muhammad Ali memorial service is still growing, according to news reports — attesting to the enduring star power of the late prize fighter, who rocketed to global fame from a racially segregated childhood in 1940s Louisville.
Among the latest bold-face names to emerge: actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (who Instagrammed a grinning selfie with eulogist and former President Bill Clinton), and David Beckham, the retired British superstar soccer player.
Beck’s wife, Victoria, the former Spice Girl singer, wasn’t spotted with him at the KFC Yum Center, where the number of mourners at the afternoon event ran as high as 20,000, according to Britain’s Mirror.
Other celebrities whose attendance wasn’t previously reported included View talk show host Whoopi Goldberg; filmmaker Spike Lee; actor and former pro-football player Carl Weathers, and triple-platinum former singer Yusuf (Cat Stevens) Islam, says Britain’s Daily Mail and one of Boulevard’s Facebook friends.
They joined already known attendees, including comedian Billy Crystal, who gave one of the eulogies; actor and pallbearer Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith; Today show host Matt Lauer and former host Bryant Gumbel; retired pro boxer Mike Tyson — and the realest of royalty: King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Trump sends regrets
Rumors GOP White House hopeful Donald Trump would attend were quashed during the morning when Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell said the reality TV star called Ali’s wife, Lonnie, to say he was unable to come, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Ali was one of the world’s most high-profile Muslims, so it’s hard to imagine Trump would have been welcome, given his call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
The KFC Center service capped a week that drew tens of thousands of spectators earlier yesterday to a 23-mile funeral procession that snaked through the city — all broadcast live to millions online and on television the day he was buried. Chanting “Ali, Ali!” fans waved to celebrities riding with other Ali family guests in the 17-car motorcade. Security, which included the U.S. Secret Service, was tight; an estimated 500 Louisville police officers were there.
Ali and close family and advisors planned the funeral in secret during the final years of his decades-long battle against Parkinson’s disease. Born in Louisville’s West End in 1942, he died at 74 on June 3 in Phoenix, his primary home. He was buried yesterday at a so-far undisclosed gravesite at Cave Hill Cemetery, joining a Kentucky who’s-who of governors, business titans and other luminaries — the most famous being KFC founder Harland Sanders.
The motorcade entered Cave Hill’s iconic main entrance on a carpet of flower petals fans laid earlier in the day:
The late prize-fighter and Louisville native personally picked out his Cave Hill Cemetery gravesite a decade ago, challenged only by deciding which plot would be best at the 300-acre burial grounds in the Highlands.
Ali will have a modest marker after his burial tomorrow, following Muslim tradition and his wish to remain humble despite his outsized life — in sharp contrast to the more ornate cemetery art on many of the other 130,000 occupied plots there. Family spokesman Bob Gunnell and Cave Hill would not say exactly where the grave will be, according to the Associated Press. But it’s certain to become a pilgrimage site for worldwide fans of the humanitarian, raising the cemetery’s already high profile — and security concerns as well. Ali will join a who’s-who of governors, business leaders and other Kentucky residents there. The most-visited grave is that of KFC founder Harland Sanders.
Ali died last Friday in Phoenix, where he lived most of the year. He was 74 and had been battling Parkinson’s disease for decades.
Cave Hill traces its history to 1846, when the mayor and city council set out to develop what soon became a “garden” cemetery, which by then was a concept gaining popularity in major U.S. cities. It’s unclear what measures will be taken to keep Ali’s grave undisturbed. Entering the cemetery isn’t easy, however; it’s surrounded by a high brick wall topped in places with razor wire, and the entry gates at Broadway and Baxter and on Grinstead Drive are monitored by security cameras and a guard. (See a map of Cave Hill.)
Securing Ali’s body has already been an issue; gossip site TMZ reported that officers with the Metro Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff were stationed outside the A.D. Porter and Sons Funeral Home, which is coordinating some of this week’s events.
At other cemeteries, guarding burial sites of celebrities has been a problem. Someone stole Charlie Chaplin’s body from his Switzerland grave and held it for ransom, the Associated Press says. Elvis Presley was first buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis in 1977, but his family moved him to his Graceland estate after three men were accused of plotting to steal it. Authorities foiled a plan to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body at Illinois’ Oak Ridge Cemetery and hold it for ransom in 1876, nine years after he died. Ultimately, his coffin was moved 17 times, mostly due to numerous reconstructions of his tomb and fears for the safety of his remains.