The nephew of Colonel Sanders casually gave away the original KFC recipe

The nephew of Colonel Sanders casually gave away the original KFC recipe

Thanks to the internet and the smartphone age, there's terabytes upon terabytes of information at our fingertips whenever we like, and for the most part, that's a good thing. But no matter how hard we try, there are things we may never know, regardless of how gratuitously we Google them.

You could understand that if we're talking, say, the nuclear codes or Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook password, but there are some left-field things that have been kept top-secret as well. Carly Simon still won't say who her hit song You're So Vain was about, and the 11 herbs and spices found in KFC Original Recipe chicken are also a very well-kept secret.

Well, they were.

Of course, Colonel Sanders (the guy with the beard who stares into your soul from the bucket you're currently holding) died back in 1980, and the top-secret recipe was in danger of dying with him. A select few know the recipe, and they're protected by Fort Knox-levels of security. But Jay Jones, reporter for the Chicago Tribune, might have discovered the original recipe totally by accident, thanks to an interview with Sanders' nephew.

Jones made the perilous journey to Kentucky not to discover the true identity of KFC's 11 herbs and spices, but to write a travel piece about the Harland Sanders Café and Museum in the small town of Corbin. Back in 1930, this was said to be the place that Colonel Sanders served his chicken to the unsuspecting public for the first time.

It was there that Jay Jones happened upon Joe Ledington, Colonel Sanders' 68-year-old nephew, and together they embarked upon an interview. But during this interview, Ledington brought out an old scrapbook. This scrapbook belonged to Ledington's aunt Claudia; the same Claudia, it turned out, who was Harland Sanders' wife from 1948 until the day he died.

Now this is where things get interesting. Inside that scrapbook was found Colonel Sander's last will and testament, and on the back of that will was written a recipe for a fried chicken spice blend, consisting of 11 herbs and spices. Now where have we heard that before?

“That is the original 11 herbs and spices that were supposed to be so secretive,” Ledington said to Jones, and just like that, food lovers across the world were inches away from discovering the Colonel's recipe. Contacted later by the Chicago Tribune, Ledington was a little less confident, but the secret was out.

Now, all they had to do was test it.

The Tribune took it upon themselves to put together the secret recipe, and rustled up a batch of fried chicken which they hoped against all hope would be sufficiently "Kentucky Fried". Tentatively, they bit into a piece of crispy chicken, and then ran an editorial declaring this chicken to be the "real deal".

But, there was a disclaimer attached to this most boisterous of boasts.

“Many people have made these claims over the years and no one has been accurate,” revealed the Tribune, ramping up expectation to fever pitch. But alas, it simply wasn't meant to be.

“This one isn’t either,” they lamented, and Colonel Sanders' secret still stands, waiting to be exposed by the hungry public, but evading capture all the same.

Still, if you'd like to try it out and see for yourself, all you need to do is mix two-thirds of a tablespoon salt, half a tablespoon thyme, half a tablespoon basil, one-third of a tablespoon oregano, one tablespoon celery salt, one tablespoon black pepper, one tablespoon dried mustard, four tablespoons paprika, two tablespoons garlic salt, one tablespoon ground ginger and three tablespoons white pepper into two cups of white flour.

Give it a try. See how you like it. And maybe add a wildcard ingredient that could be the final piece of the puzzle in Colonel Sanders' fried chicken recipe.