The Possible Reason There's An FBI File On Colonel Sanders

Generally, when people think of KFC, fried chicken and traditional sides like mashed potatoes come to mind, not the FBI. Also known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, the brand changed its name in 1991 to avoid paying to use the word "Kentucky" after the state trademarked it, but has returned to using the moniker since a settlement was reached in 2006 (via Snopes). According to the official website, the key to the restaurant's delicious chicken is the seasoning, which is made with 11 top-secret herbs and spices. Could this confidential recipe be what the FBI was interested in?

Now, don't get your hopes up: We're not just one Freedom of Information Act request away from definitively learning the undisclosed seasonings. Unfortunately, we might still have to wait on that one, and the possible reason the agency was investigating appears much less scandalous than you might think. The contents of the file have to do with the real-life Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of the fast food chain.

Colonel Sanders wrote letters to the director of the FBI

The possible reason for the FBI file on the Colonel might have something to do with his loose connection to J. Edgar Hoover. He was the director of the FBI for almost 50 years and was the target of some scrutiny over his unpopular role in surveillance and espionage in the U.S. throughout World War II, the Cold War, and beyond (via History). The Verge reports that Harland Sanders was a big fan of Hoover, and would occasionally write letters in support of his policies and decisions. He even wrote to invite the FBI director to his 80th birthday party in 1968. This is what most likely led to the 15-page FBI file, which contains the letters as well as background information on the Colonel. 

While this all seems innocent enough, there are entire sections of the file blacked out, according to The Verge. At the start of the document, it clearly states, "Colonel Harland F. Sanders has not been the subject of an FBI investigation," which is immediately followed by two entirely redacted paragraphs. What's written there, along with the secret spices and herbs, may never be known.