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KFC’s Formula for Success


Everyone knows that KFC uses a super secret blend of eleven herbs and spices to make its fried chicken ultra-delicious. KFC goes to great lengths to keep that formula secret. In fact, one company blends a formulation that represents part of the recipe while another spice company blends the remainder. And a final computer processing system is used to standardize the blending of the products to ensure neither company has the complete recipe.

Last Tuesday morning, at the Louisville Kentucky headquarters of KFC, a person known only as the “keeper” carefully opened a vault. Behind it lay a door with three locks, which he opened. Behind that sat a simple filing cabinet equipped with two combination locks. The keeper opened the final door and revealed the reason for all this secrecy: Colonel Harland Sanders original recipe, written on a single sheet of yellowing notebook paper, along with vials of the herbs and spices used in the recipe. Only two keepers hold the keys to the recipe at any one time (the company even uses different suppliers for the recipe’s ingredients, so no-one knows exactly what is being used).

KFC made this fairly large public spectacle because they say they want to move the secret formula to a “more secure” location.
More secure than a vault at the companies headquarters? Do they think Jason Bourne is coming after the Colonels formula? No, of course not. The real reason is much less bizarre, its marketing.

Marketing is the reason for KFCs secrecy, and Coca Cola’s secret formula, and the secret formula for the Mars bar. It’s publicly known secrecy. It’s advertised secrecy. It’s secrecy that they want the world to know exists, because it adds a measure of quality to the product. It portrays the product as an ultra-unique, one-of-a-kind thing, with no exact equal in all the world. The more elaborate, and more public, the measures taken to keep the formulas secret, the better. Not only does it make the newspapers, but it instills that image of quality in the consumers head.

I’m hungry for some KFC now.