Colonel Sanders was involved in a fatal shootout

Before he was a fast food magnate, Colonel Sanders managed a Shell petrol station. In a bid to attract more customers, Sanders painted a large red sign which he placed on the highway, drawing the ire of Matt Stewart, another local business owner, who began frequently vandalising the sign. After spotting Stewart messing with the sign once again, Sanders went to confront him, accompanied by Robert Gibson, one of his employees. The resulting altercation swiftly turned lethal, with all parties producing weapons and opening fire. When the smoke cleared, Steward was severely wounded, and Robert Gibson lay dead.

The company’s chickens live terrible lives

Around 1 billion chickens are killed each year to keep KFC supplied. The company has been accused of extreme cruelty in its farming practices, with its chickens crammed into filthy, tiny cages, deprived of sunlight or social contact with other chickens. A combination of the squalid conditions the chickens live in and the malnutrition many of them suffer from leads to frequent outbreaks of disease, which farmers keep under control by pumping the birds full of antibiotics.

KFC served a child a deep fried paper towel


In 2014, a seven-year-old boy in Newcastle, England was shocked when he bit into what he thought was chicken only to discover it was actually a deep fried piece of paper towel. The boy’s parents were understandably horrified, given that there was no way of knowing what the towel had been used to wipe prior to ending up in the deep fat fryer. KFC issued a public apology for the mixup, claimed that the paper was almost certainly free from contaminants and refunded the meal.

KFC has been linked to childhood obesity

Robert Lawton/Wikimedia

Health groups in America often refer to KFC as “kid fattening centre” due to the well documented links between fast food and obesity. To be fair, KFC doesn’t bear sole responsibility for the childhood obesity epidemic sweeping the United States, but it certainly isn’t helping. A typical KFC kid’s meal packs around 345 calories and 10 grams of fat, and some of their milkshakes contain over 60 grams of sugar.

A KFC restaurant was used to smuggle drugs

In 2018, authorities made a startling discovery; a 600-foot tunnel that stretched from the basement of an Arizona KFC outlet under the border into Mexico. Police also uncovered around $1 million worth of narcotics, confirming that the tunnel was being used for drug smuggling. The owner of the restaurant – who police believe was well aware of the operation – was swiftly tracked down, arrested and charged with smuggling illegal substances.

The Colonel was a sex pest

Paula Bronstein / Staff/Getty

Colonel Sanders was arguably the most iconic fast food restaurant proprietor in the world, and he was described by those who knew him as a “brilliant businessman” and an extremely hard worker. However, whilst he was diligent about growing his fast food empire, he was less committed to his wife. Sanders’ biography describes his numerous affairs, including a particularly unethical dalliance with a waitress at one of his outlets. The Colonel was also something of a sex pest, and women at the Chamber of Commerce he was a member of actively avoided him due to his lecherous behaviour.

The company goes to extreme lengths to protect its recipe

KFC famously uses a signature blend of 11 herbs and spices in the batter that coats its chicken, and it fiercely guards the formula. Only one copy of the recipe exists, and it’s stored within a safe in company headquarters that only a couple of people know the code to. The batter is made by two companies, with each making half of the recipe, and a third company combines the mixture later on. Whilst these measures might seem excessive, KFC firmly believes that its secret recipe is the key to its success.

KFC sued Colonel Sanders


After Harland Sanders sold KFC in 1964, he stayed on as a spokesperson for the brand he had lovingly built. Unfortunately, Sanders quickly grew frustrated with the direction the company was being taken in, and he became increasingly vocal in his criticisms. In 1978, after Sanders wrote some particularly scathing articles which likened the flavour of KFC’s new offering to ‘wallpaper paste,’ the new owners took him to court for libel. The case was eventually dismissed, but the bad blood persisted until Sanders’ death.

Scientists have claimed KFC is addictive

In 2016, part of KFC’s secret recipe was accidentally let slip, and it revealed that one of the main ingredients is white pepper. Scientists quickly pointed out that – if white pepper is indeed present in high doses – it would make KFC’s food addictive. This is due to piperine, a compound that causes a tingling sensation in the mouth and activates the brain’s reward pathways. Whilst all varieties of pepper contain piperine, it is found in particularly high concentrations in white pepper.

A video showed KFC employees repackaging old food

In 2013, some KFC workers uploaded a video showing them repackaging mac and cheese that was apparently days old to be reserved to customers. According to the employees, this was standard practice, and actively encouraged by management in a bid to reduce waste and inflate profits. Commenting on the video, KFC claimed that it was an isolated incident and didn’t reflect the company’s strict policies on food safety and hygiene.