If you love fried chicken then you’ve probably enjoyed a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken now and again. KFC is clearly delicious, but is it simply all those secret herbs and spices? It turns out there are a lot of reasons why this chicken is so finger -lickin’ good.
10. Chicken Lick’n Good
With more vegetarians among us beef is not quite as popular as it used to be and chicken has helped to fill the void. Vegans are out of luck, but if you eat any meat you probably enjoy the versatility of chicken. This popular poultry is perfect for so many recipes from enchiladas to salads to barbecue and the list just goes on. Chicken is such a versatile food and the culinary possibilities are nearly endless. Of course for many chicken lovers crispy fried chicken is the ultimate treat and Kentucky Fried Chicken has long been the most visible and convenient chicken place around. The popularity of chicken is great news for the fast food giant and as of 2018 the company had opened 22,000 stores around the world. The growth has been so quick the chain had recently been opening several stores a day to keep up with the growing demand. What goes together better than some fried chicken and warm, buttery biscuits? This delicious pairing sounds like a no brainer and KFC has your fix. There’s no way around it; chicken is just delicious and this fact isn’t going to change anytime soon and KFC is perfectly willing to sell us as much as we can handle.
9. It’s Science
Many thousands of years ago when our distant ancestors were foraging for food a decent meal could be days away or more. In this intense feast or famine environment humans understandably developed a preference for high calorie foods. This makes a lot of sense for the survival of the species because its hard to pass on your genes to the next generation if you’re starving. This is were Kentucky Fried Chicken comes in. Although most of us eat too much as it is we are still very much hard wired to have a preference for high calorie items like fried chicken. In addition to the tasty fried chicken we should under estimate the appeal of KFC’s delicious comfort food sides such as mashed potatoes with gravy, mac and cheese and biscuits. Our bodies often crave these carbohydrate-rich foods as tasty ways to get plenty of calories. These excess calories would suit is better if we were still living out on the grassy savanna hunting our next meal. Alas, KFC has saved us the trouble of chasing down a delicious chickens and making an appetizing meals out of them. When your willpower seems to be faltering as you’re driving up to the nearest KFC you can take solace in the fact that you are going up against your own biology.
8. Chicken With Your Salt?
From popcorn to steak it is generally accepted that salt makes a lot of foods taste better. Anyone who frequents fast food restaurants knows that salt is featured prominently in many menu items. KFC’s fried chicken has its famous 11 herbs and spices and it also has tried and true salt. Sodium chloride or table salt is a necessary ingredient in our bodies helping to regulate fluid levels. We would die without salt, but we’ve all been told to watch the salt intake because too much salt can be harmful. A diet high in salt can open us up to unhealthy conditions like high blood pressure and strokes, but Colonel wasn’t thinking about our heart health or our waistlines when he introduced us to his delicious and yes – salty chicken. KFC can’t hide the truth about the high levels of salt in its chicken. A published nutritional chart reveals that a standard piece of chicken sold at the popular chain contains more than a 1,000 mg of sodium. Enjoying this single piece of chicken would give you about half your recommended intake or 2,300 mg of sodium chloride. It’s easy to see why most Americans far exceed the recommended levels and often consume more than 3,000 mg a day. People are going to continue to enjoy KFC, but they should be mindful of the potential impact on their health if they over indulge.
7. Coated With Flavor
One of the joys of eating KFC’s fried chicken is sinking your teeth into the deliciously crunchy coating. Many people would say that the crust makes or breaks fried chicken. It turns out that this coating really does play an important role in making KFC’s chicken so good. It makes use of something called semi-emulsified, which means there is a mixture of water and fat in the coating. The interaction of these two substances on the KFC chicken skin coating is very good at transmitting maximum flavor to your taste buds as soon as you bite into it. This is like a supercharge effect that further heightens the flavors of the salt and MSG in the coating. This combination of heightened flavors makes it difficult for chicken lovers to resist. This is more evidence that KFC does not leave its menu to chance, but is working hard to make its fried chicken as enticing as possible. All of this work is done so a lot of people will want to buy the chicken and then go back for more. Just about any chicken crust would be plenty delicious anyway, but using semi-emulsified crust takes a tasty food to another level. This makes sense in the highly competitive fast food industry where little can be left to chance.
6. Flavor Enhancement
You have likely heard of MSG and the fact that it is added to a lot of foods. There has been some controversy over this food additive whose full names is monosodium glutamate. This might sound like an exotic chemical, but is is actually just a combination of salt and a substance called glutamate. Glutamte is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in many foods. Your body processes MSG and the naturally occurring amino acid the same way. These facts have gone a long way toward easing peoples’ fears about this common flavor enhancer. MSG was getting a bad reputation and many companies discontinued using it. However, when the facts came out regarding MSG it seems to have been rehabilitated somewhat in the eyes of the public. This is a good thing for KFC because MSG is part of the recipe that makes the chain’s fried chicken as flavorful as it can be. You might be wondering why the famous herbs and spices aren’t enough to make the chicken special. Perhaps these spices would be just fine for many customers, but KFC isn’t willing to leave things to chance. MSG has a proven track record of bringing out the flavor of many foods and the fast food chain is intent on making the chicken as irresistible as possible.
5. A Dish Best Served Cold
The line, “Revenge is a dish best served cold” came to us from 17th century France is a bit grim. KFC chicken on the other might be best served hot, but his doesn’t mean it isn’t also quite delicious when served cold. Eating cold chicken as leftovers out of the refrigerator used to be almost a cliche on television programs for characters who had arrived home too late for dinner. If you are lucky enough to have KFC leftovers in your refrigerator than they probably won’t go to waste because you know there is something about cold chicken that just works. The reasons why it works has been studied so we know it’s not just our imaginations. The first thing is that as the chicken cools the skin contracts and comes into contact with the meat and separates from the crust. This helps to keep the crust crunchy when you get around to eating it the next day. The second thing that happens is that the cooling chicken loses moisture in the form of steam. This loss of moisture increases the density of the chicken and helps make the chicken taste even more flavorful than when you originally bought it. So if you’re one of those people who swears that KFC is better the next day – you might just be right! If you order extra chicken the next time you’re at KFC you can make sure you’ll have cold leftovers the next day.
4. Fresh Is Best
This might seem like a no brainer, but using fresh chicken instead of meat that has been hanging around long enough to be frozen, makes for a better tasting meal. You probably know that many fast food items are made from frozen food because it is so much cheaper and more convenient than dealing with fresh ingredients. But in the face of this pressure to cut corners KFC remains committed to offering its customers fresh chicken and other ingredients. The fast food chain is able to provide fresh meat to all of its far-flung stores around the world by partnering with local poultry farmers instead of relying on big commercial concerns that essential mass process chicken. Chickens from the local farms is cut into thighs, legs, wings and breasts and chilled to retain freshness, but not frozen. KFC has cultivated a reputation for being somewhat choosy about the quality of the chicken it will accept from its various suppliers and this is good news for KFC customers. Even though it is fast food KFC customers have come to expect a certain level of quality from the chicken and the extra effort it takes to use fresh chicken plays a big part in delivering and sustaining this quality.
3. Under Pressure
One of the things many KFC customers may not know about their beloved chicken is that it isn’t cooked in a traditional deep fryer. Although this is the way you’d probably expect Southern fried chicken to get its crispy, golden goodness, KFC has mastered a different approach. Somewhere a long the way toward KFC immortality Colonel Sanders himself developed a method of using cooking oil in pressure cookers even though these were not designed to be used with oil. However, the Colonel was determined to go his own way on this and despite the risks his method became a successful way to make delicious fried chicken. Pressure cooking is a fast and efficient way to moist chicken and as well as a crispy coating – the the two hallmarks of good fried chicken. Eventually, the food industry caught up with the man who was destined to become a fast food icon and started selling a pressure cooker that was in fact designed to use oil as the innovative Colonel had already been doing for years. In the years following the introduction of this new design use of pressure cookers became more common in fast food preparation and we all have the Colonel to thank for it. Many people have also tried preparing fried chicken in a pressure cooker at home to duplicate KFC, but despite what some web sites promise, the exact make up of the secret recipe remains in doubt.
2. Piperine Anyone?
Both black and white pepper are common ingredients, but do you know what pipeline is? It’s ok if you don’t because the folks at KFC certainly do and they are making very good use of it. Piperine is a chemical found in pepper that gives it its famously strong flavor and odor and made pepper such a popular spice. It is piperine that is responsible for making your mouth tingle and burn a bit when you eat foods heavily seasoned with white or black pepper. Piperine in large quantities has even been shown to help with depression in some cases. This versatile chemical has also been shown to aid in digestion which makes your body want it that much more. So even if the use of black and white pepper in the KFC chicken recipe is purely for the terrific flavor they provide it turns out they can do more for you than satisfy the cravings of your taste buds. Although KFC doesn’t like to reveal precise details about its famous recipes it is safe to say the chicken is prepared using generous amounts of both black and white pepper. Although a variety of other spices help complete KFC’s popular flavor it is good to know that basic ingredients like pepper can play such a prominent role in making the chicken so tasty.
1. The Secret Recipe
Kentucky Fried Chicken may be the second largest fast food franchise in the world, but that doesn’t mean the chicken giant is taking things for granted when it comes to its signature product. The company jealously guards the specifics of the secret recipe behind its famous fried chicken. Harlan Sanders, better known to us as Colonel Sanders developed a recipe with 11 herbs and spices and has been a closely guarded trade secret since the 1940’s. Some people wonder if this supposed “secret recipe” has just been a clever marketing ploy to distinguish itself from the very real competition fast food chains face. A nephew of the Colonel may have let the recipe out of the bag in 2016 when he showed a reporter the following list of ingredients that was to be mixed with flour: Salt, thyme, basil, oregano, celery salt, black pepper, dried mustard, paprika, garlic salt, ground ginger, and white pepper. KFC has never publicly confirmed that this is in fact the coveted secret recipe that helps make the chicken so popular. While it is certainly a plausible list of ingredients for a fried chicken recipe aren’t we better off with a little mystery? Of course KFC’s competitors would want to know what makes the chicken special, buts fans of the chicken can still enjoy it if the “secret” remains intact.