Why KFC Rejected Colonel Sanders' Gravy Recipe

KFC has legions of fans that keep coming back for their buckets of fried chicken, fried chicken sandwiches, or combo meals that are served with mashed potatoes and gravy and a drink, per the KFC website. The fast food chain has over 25,000 locations in 145 countries, so if you're traveling or live abroad and are craving some delicious fried chicken, you're likely to be able to find a KFC.

Some people love KFC for the side dishes: the classic coleslaw or mashed potatoes with gravy. You may not think twice about how the gravy is made, just that you love the flavor combination of fluffy potatoes with a creamy, seasoned light brown sauce. Although gravy may seem like a simple recipe that typically uses juices of the meat, butter, flour, milk, and seasonings (via Simply Recipes), there is an art to getting it just right.

Colonel Sanders, the founder and face of KFC, loved to cook and perfected his recipes until he was proud to share them. The gravy recipe was no exception. But it might surprise the average customer to find out that the original gravy the Colonel created isn't what you'll taste if you walk into a KFC today.

Colonel Sander's gravy recipe is complex and time-consuming

The original Colonel Sanders recipe is no longer used at KFC franchises, so if you've been a fan for decades, you'll understand why it doesn't taste quite like it used to. When a chain expands, one of the most important aspects of the process is ensuring that the food can be created in the same way with the same taste from state to state and country to country.

There's no denying that Colonel Sander's gravy was delectable, but the main problem with repeating his recipe was how much time it took to prepare, which meant employees spending more time on gravy than focusing on their other duties in the kitchen. 

A company executive told the New Yorker in 1970, "It involved too much time, it left too much room for human error, and it was too expensive." Considering that the goal of a fast food chain is consistency, the fact that the Colonel's recipe wasn't able to be replicated easily made it too risky to keep on the menu. According to the company executive, "Let's face it, the Colonel's gravy was fantastic, but you had to be a Rhodes Scholar to cook it." 

However, the Colonel wasn't pleased with this decision: He felt quality and taste should be more important than profits. Alas, he'd sold the company six years prior, so he no longer had a say in the matter (via New Yorker).