Marketing part 2 KFC

The executives who run the fast food industry are not bad men. They are businessmen. They will sell free-range, organic, grass-fed hamburgers if you demand it. They will sell whatever sells at a profit.

Eric Schlosser


Those 11 Herbs and Spices.

 With 22,621 locations worldwide in 150 countries,909  in the U.K. alone, which, by the way, makes the U.K, the largest market in Europe and the fourth largest worldwide. I can rest easy tonight knowing that most of you have heard of KFC, aka Kentucky Fried Chicken.

No, I am not here to discuss the corporate side of this franchise. What I am going to discuss are those 11 damn herbs and spices. So sit back, relax, have a glass of wine and take notes.

First a quick paragraph about the history of this fast food champion. Harland David Sanders, aka Colonel Sanders, began selling his fried chicken from a roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky. It was in that roadside restaurant that Colonel Sanders developed his “secret recipe” and his patented process of cooking chicken in a pressure fryer, and the rest is history.

Now, back to those 11 herbs and spices

I am sure by now many of you have stumbled across stories of some person somewhere finding a list of those 11 herbs, but what if I told you they are wrong. Especially the newspaper article that claims it is the real thing.

11 Spice-Mix with 2 cups / 460 g white flour

​2⁄3 teaspoon / 3.2 g salt

​1⁄2 teaspoon / 2.4 g thyme

​1⁄2 teaspoon / 2.4 g basil

​1⁄3 teaspoon / 1.6 g oregano

1 teaspoon / 4.8 g celery salt

1 teaspoon / 4.8 g black pepper

1 teaspoon / 4.8 g dry mustard

4 teaspoon / 19.1 g paprika

2 teaspoon / 9.6 g garlic salt

1 teaspoon / 4.8 g ground ginger

3 teaspoon / 14.3 g white pepper

Or this one

The Secret Ingredients:

1 tablespoon / 14.3 g rosemary

1 tablespoon / 14.3 g oregano leaves

1 tablespoon / 14.3 g powdered sage

1 tablespoon / 14.3 g powdered ginger

1 teaspoon / 4.8 g marjoram

1 1/2 teaspoons / 7.2 g thyme

3 tablespoons / 42.9 g brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons / 42.9 g dry minced parsley

1 teaspoon / 4.8 g pepper

1 tablespoon / 14.3 g paprika

2 tablespoons / 28.6 g garlic salt

2 tablespoons / 28.6 g onion salt

2 tablespoons / 28.6 g powdered chicken bouillon

1 package Lipton Tomato Cup-a-Soup mix

Combine all the ingredients in a blender (or Mason jar blender) and pulse until they become nearly powder.

Makes about 3/4 cup / 172.5 g.

Combine all ingredients and seal in Ziploc or vacuum seal bag (or jar) or spice jar.

To use with flour, add 1 ounce mix per 1 cup of flour for coating chicken. Dip the raw chicken pieces in a mixture of egg/water and then dredge in the seasoned flour. Repeat for extra crispy coating. Fry or bake chicken pieces as desired. This mixture also works great for chicken fried steak as well.

Tilly: The Cup-a-Soup is a turn off …

Olive: Not to mention sickening.

There are many other recipes some have the key ingredient as Oregano, and some say it is the chicken stock powder.

Neither one is correct. I am not saying that there is not a secret to this great chicken I am just saying it is not in those 11 herbs and spices.

William Poundstone, an American Author hired a laboratory to analyze a sampling of the mixture used on the chicken. What showed up was not the herbs and spices but showed four ingredients, flour, salt, pepper and monosodium glutamate, which is a flavor enhancer.

So, are there truly 11 herbs and spices? The answer is a simple yes. But it is not for the chicken, it was for the gravy. Yes, you can go back and read that line. It was for the gravy.

Are they used today? The company has been sold many times since 1964, and having tasted the original gravy compared to today’s gravy. I would say no.

In the early 1960s Colonel Sanders sold the company for 2 million dollars and a yearly salary to be their spokesman. That company shortly afterward released the spices and which flour to use.

They are:

1 tsps. / 4.92 ml white pepper

¾ tsps. / 3.69 ml Black pepper

1 tsps. / 4. 92 ml sage

3/8 tsp / 1.84 ml coriander

5/16 tsps. / 1.54 ml ginger

¼ tsps. / 1.23 ml Ancho Chile pepper

3/16 tsps. / 0.92 ml vanilla bean

3/16 tsps. / 0.92 ml bay leaves

3/16 tsps. / 0.92 ml savory

1/8 tsps. / 0.61 ml cloves

1/8 tsps. / 0.61 ml cardamom


¼ tsps. / 1.23 ml MSG (they even gave the brand they used)

Mix with 1 cup flour / 236.58 ml cake or soft flour

Ingredients to be ground before measuring.

The key ingredient is in the flour, not just for frying method, but for the gravy as well.So what is the true secret behind KFC? It is 3 fold. The Marketing, the flour, cake or soft flour, and finally pressure frying.

Pressure frying is not something TILLY and I do NOT recommend you trying at home with a normal pressure cooker.

Did the vanilla catch your eye, well according to Tilly and Olive’s friend Hulya Erdal, the vanilla will add a level of warmth and sweetness. Which explains why the original gravy I loved was so delicious.

Tilly: I have only tried KFC once, a long time ago. Enjoyed the flavour, but concerned that the chicken wasn’t quite cooked, too much raw flesh near the bone for my liking. Salmonella an’ all. I would suggest that the coating did contain flavorings apart from MSG. Gravy was not mentioned or included. But the ingredients would make for a tasty accompaniment to chicken! Doubt it needs the MSG.

Marketing is a wonderful tool.

In closing remember one of KFC most popular slogans.

“It’s Finger Lickin’ Good”

And it still is today.

Olive and Tilly

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  • Edgar Medina

    Great article, Thank you Olive! Every so often I toy with the idea of pressure frying at home. Have you ever come across equipment or a method that would makes it viable?

  • Jerry Bell

    I think almost everyone likes KFC. I was not aware of several things mentioned in your blog, although I worked at KFC for a few months. I did not enjoy working for the franchise. I did not work for the major company. The seasoning we used came in packets so I cannot attest to the eleven spices.
    I think I’ll try these ingredients, both in the breading and chicken gravy. I know so many medical professionals reccomend staying away from gravy, bad for your heart. I shall handle it like a man…I will sneak some and let you know.
    Thanks for the blog. I always love reading it.

    • Olive

      I had a relative that worked at KFC back in the late 1960’s. Remember the flour to use is Cake Flour. I do love this blend. Thanks for your comments. Let Tilly and I know how your gravy came out.

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