It’s common knowledge at this point that KFC’s chicken is coated in a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, and the Colonel’s nephew may have just revealed exactly which ones.
KFC’s Original Recipe has been kept under strict lock and key. The company even uses two separate suppliers for the herbs and spices so as to let neither of them in on the secret, but one man has just shared an “11 Herbs and Spices” recipe that he claims was created by the Colonel himself.
According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, 67-year-old Joe Ledington is the nephew of Harland Sanders, who you may recognize as the white-haired, white-bearded, bowtie-wearing man on your bucket of 15-piece Original Recipe chicken. Ledington shared a family scrapbook that had been compiled by his aunt, Claudia Ledington, Colonel Sanders’ second wife.
Amid photographs and cut out news articles was a handwritten recipe, written on the back of his aunt’s last will and testament. The top of the page read, “11 spices—mix with 2 cups white [flour].” When asked whether these were the famous 11 herbs and spices, Ledington confirmed that yes, in fact, they were.
“That is the original 11 herbs and spices that were supposed to be so secretive,” Ledington told the Tribune. He said that though the handwriting doesn’t belong to the Colonel, he recognizes the recipe from when he used to help his uncle blend the herbs and spices when he was younger, which they would then bag and sell to local restaurants. He added that white pepper was “the secret ingredient,” because no one really knew what it was back then.
When the Tribune asked him to confirm in a phone interview later on whether that was the secret recipe, he seemed less certain about his comments: “It could be; I don’t know for sure.”
When asked to comment, a KFC spokesperson told Fortune, “Many people have made these claims over the years and no one has been accurate – this one isn’t either.” Considering the better part of a century has gone by since Ledington’s boyhood, it’s possible that the recipe has been tweaked.