KFC, also known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, is an American fast food restaurant chain headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, that specializes in fried chicken. It is the world's second-largest restaurant chain (as measured by sales) after McDonald's, with 22,621 locations globally in 136 countries as of December 2018. The chain is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, a restaurant company that also owns the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and WingStreet chains.
KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. Sanders identified the potential of the restaurant franchising concept, and the first "Kentucky Fried Chicken" franchise opened in Utah in 1952. KFC popularized chicken in the fast food industry, diversifying the market by challenging the established dominance of the hamburger. By branding himself as "Colonel Sanders", Harland became a prominent figure of American cultural history, and his image remains widely used in KFC advertising to this day. However, the company's rapid expansion overwhelmed the aging Sanders, and he sold it to a group of investors led by John Y. Brown Jr. and Jack C. Massey in 1964.
KFC was one of the first American fast food chains to expand internationally, opening outlets in Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Jamaica by the mid-1960s. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, it experienced mixed fortunes domestically, as it went through a series of changes in corporate ownership with little or no experience in the restaurant business. In the early 1970s, KFC was sold to the spirits distributor Heublein, which was taken over by the R.J. Reynolds food and tobacco conglomerate; that company sold the chain to PepsiCo. The chain continued to expand overseas, however, and in 1987, it became the first Western restaurant chain to open in China. It has since expanded rapidly in China, which is now the company's single largest market. PepsiCo spun off its restaurants division as Tricon Global Restaurants, which later changed its name to Yum! Brands.
KFC's original product is pressure-fried chicken pieces, seasoned with Sanders' recipe of 11 herbs and spices. The constituents of the recipe represent a notable trade secret. Larger portions of fried chicken are served in a cardboard "bucket", which has become a well-known feature of the chain since it was first introduced by franchisee Pete Harman in 1957. Since the early 1990s, KFC has expanded its menu to offer other chicken products such as chicken fillet sandwiches and wraps, as well as salads and side dishes such as French fries and coleslaw, desserts, and soft drinks; the latter often supplied by PepsiCo. KFC is known for its slogans "It's Finger Lickin' Good!", "Nobody does chicken like KFC", and "So good".
Colonel Sanders was a key component of KFC advertising until his death in 1980. Despite his death, Sanders remains a key icon of the company as an "international symbol of hospitality". Early official slogans for the company included "North America's Hospitality Dish" (from 1956) and "We fix Sunday dinner seven nights a week. The "finger lickin' good" slogan was used from 1956, and went on to become one of the best-known slogans of the 20th century. The trademark expired in the US in 2006. The first KFC logo was introduced in 1952 and featured a "Kentucky Fried Chicken" typeface and a logo of the Colonel.
Advertising played a key role at KFC after it was sold by Sanders, and the company began to advertise on US television with a budget of US$4 million in 1966. In order to fund nationwide advertising campaigns, the Kentucky Fried Chicken Advertising Co-Op was established, giving franchisees ten votes and the company three when deciding on budgets and campaigns. In 1969, KFC hired its first national advertising agency, Leo Burnett. A notable Burnett campaign in 1972 was the "Get a bucket of chicken, have a barrel of fun" jingle, performed by Barry Manilow. By 1976 KFC was one of the largest advertisers in the US.
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