LOUISVILLE — Pssst. The secret's out at KFC. Well, sort of.
Col. Harland Sanders' handwritten recipe of 11 herbs and spices was removed Tuesday from safekeeping at KFC's corporate offices for the first time in decades. The temporary relocation is allowing KFC to revamp security around a yellowing sheet of paper that contains one of the country's most famous corporate secrets.
The brand's top executive admitted his nerves were aflutter despite the tight security.
"I don't want to be the president who loses the recipe," KFC President Roger Eaton said. "Imagine how terrifying that would be."
The recipe that launched the chicken chain was placed in a lockbox that was handcuffed to security expert Bo Dietl, who climbed aboard an armored car that whisked away with an escort from off-duty police officers.
Eaton's parting words to Dietl: "Keep it safe."
So important is the 68-year-old concoction that coats the chain's Original Recipe chicken that only two company executives at any time have access to it. KFC refuses to release their names or titles, and it uses multiple suppliers who produce and blend the ingredients but know only a part of the entire contents.
KFC executives said they decided to upgrade security after retrieving the recipe amid preparations to add a new line of Original Recipe chicken strips.
For more than 20 years, the recipe has been in a filing cabinet equipped with two combination locks at KFC headquarters in Louisville. To reach the cabinet, the keepers of the recipe would first open a vault and unlock three locks on a door that stood in front of the cabinet.