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  • Anyone who's ever bitten into a piping hot piece of KFC's fried chicken knows it's delicious.

  • But what is it that sets KFC apart from other chicken joints?

  • It turns out that there's more to it than just those 11 secret herbs and spices.

  • Much has been made in KFC's history of its proprietary blend of 11 secret herbs and spices.

  • However, in the culinary world, it's essentially the equivalent of an urban legend, and no

  • one has been able to confirm precisely what comprises that proprietary blend.

  • Or have they?

  • In 2016, the real-life nephew of KFC's legendary Colonel Sanders appeared to give out the top-secret

  • list.

  • That year, Chicago Tribune reporter Jay Jones traveled to the small town of Corbin, Kentucky,

  • where Colonel Harland Sanders first began serving his now-world-famous fried chicken.

  • There, he met Sanders' nephew Joe Ledington, who shared a family scrapbook with him.

  • And there, scribbled on the back of a living will, was a handwritten list labeled "11 Spices

  • - Mix with 2 Cups White Fl."

  • What were they?

  • Salt, thyme, basil, oregano, celery salt, black pepper, dried mustard, paprika, garlic

  • salt, ground ginger, and white pepper.

  • Since KFC's official blend of 11 secret herbs and spices has never been verified, it's unclear

  • just how accurate Ledington's list was.

  • But suffice it to say that whatever they're putting on that chicken makes it pretty darn

  • delicious.

  • "Excellent work, captain.

  • Now keep your herbs and spices balanced!"

  • Whenever you get a craving for KFC chicken, it's the only thing that will satisfy the

  • raging hunger beast inside of you.

  • You don't necessarily know why it's so fulfilling to chomp down into a piece, but it is.

  • In a Quora thread exploring KFC's inherent appeal, Chef Martin Bayer pointed out one

  • possible reason you just can't seem to get the Colonel's menu out of your head, and it

  • all has to do with our cravings.

  • He explained:

  • "Sure, they brag about their 11 herbs and spices, which is great, but that's not what

  • you are tasting when you bite into some extra tasty crispy.

  • You are tasting sweet, salty, and umami, or savoriness.

  • [...] that is what makes you go back for more KFC."

  • Food that is more balanced among the tastes is more appealing to the palate, and KFC's

  • chicken simply checks a lot of the boxes.

  • Remember how the Chicago Tribune supposedly sniffed out KFC's secret blend of herbs and

  • spices?

  • Well, once they had their hands on what was allegedly the magic formula, they decided

  • to put it to the test.

  • They took to the kitchen in an attempt to replicate the fast food eatery's signature

  • fried chicken flavor.

  • But something was missing.

  • After multiple batches that weren't quite right, the Tribune team came, quote, "very

  • close" to recreating the taste of the Colonel's secret blend.

  • On a whim, someone grabbed a container of MSG flavor enhancer sitting in the test kitchen

  • and sprinkled it on the chicken.

  • Voila!

  • According to the paper, their test chicken was, quote, "virtually indistinguishable"

  • from the bucket they bought at KFC.

  • When the Tribune reached out, a KFC spokesperson reportedly confirmed that they do use MSG

  • in their Original Recipe chicken.

  • If you're feeling a little horrified, don't worry.

  • There's actually no reason to.

  • While MSG tends to get a bad rap, U.S. News & World Report says the negative publicity

  • is undeserved.

  • MSG is simply a combination of sodium and glutamate, an amino acid found naturally in

  • many foods.

  • And guess what?

  • The body digests it all the same, whether your food comes with it naturally or you sprinkle

  • a little on.

  • Plus, it makes food taste really good.

  • In 2014, KFC offered near-total transparency by inviting Gizmodo to go behind the scenes

  • for a tour of the restaurant's headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.

  • During the enlightening play-by-play of how the signature chicken is made, they found

  • that KFC is obsessed with the number seven.

  • And, surprisingly, it actually plays a big part in making the chicken taste so good.

  • One, two, three, four, five, six, seven!”

  • In preparation for its breading, the chicken is inspected and then dunked in a brine.

  • To dry the chicken off, KFC employees toss it seven times.

  • The chicken is then placed in the breading using a pseudo breaststroke motion seven times.

  • When it's good and coated, the chicken is collected in a basket and see-sawed seven

  • times.

  • Finally, the chicken is placed on the frying rack and pressure cooked to perfection.

  • So, you see, without KFC's commitment to doing things seven times, the chicken likely wouldn't

  • be quite so flavorful.

  • When you think of someone making fried chicken, you probably think of them submerging it in

  • a bubbling vat or iron skillet filled with oil.

  • While KFC has always used oil, it originally used it in a decidedly different way: by basically

  • hacking a pressure cooker.

  • For the record, the Colonel lived on the edge, because using oil in a pressure cooker not

  • meant for oil was dangerous.

  • Fortunately, by the late 1950s, a commercial pressure fryer specifically suited to this

  • use was developed.

  • And although many other restaurants have gone on to adopt the oil-and-pressure cooking method,

  • according to Josh Ozersky's book Colonel Sanders and the American Dream, KFC really pioneered

  • pressure cooking with hot oil in the 1940s.

  • The science behind why pressure cooking makes fried chicken taste so amazing is, well, kind

  • of amazing.

  • As explained by Chef Jacob Burton with Stella Culinary,

  • "The collagen in tough pieces of meat like the leg and thigh break down much faster […] yielding

  • a tender product with less cook time.

  • Less moisture from the product is evaporated, leading to a juicier piece of meat."

  • Or, in KFC's words, their chicken is

  • "pressure cooked at a low temperature to preserve all the great taste we're known for around

  • the world."

  • It would be easy to assume KFC and other fast food restaurants like it use frozen meat products

  • for all of their menu offerings.

  • Doing so would presumably amount to a significant cost savings over fresh proteins.

  • But according to several former employees on a Quora thread devoted to how KFC chicken

  • is cooked, the restaurant is committed to using quality fresh ingredients.

  • One former employee had this to say about just what kind of chicken was used:

  • "Our chicken was always fresh; chilled, but not frozen.

  • It was supplied by a local poultry company, and already cut into pieces: leg, thigh, breast,

  • & wing.

  • There was nothing really special about the chicken itself; the poultry supplier supplied

  • numerous other restaurants with chicken, so it was all actually chicken […] KFC, at

  • least from my experience, is very picky about their food."

  • Fresh is best, right?

  • Whenever you tear into a juicy bite of chicken, just tell yourself that you're simply following

  • your evolutionary cues, because yes, you can absolutely thank your ancestors for your primal

  • need to dive headfirst into a bucket of Extra Crispy.

  • Business Insider has a breakdown of why the blame belongs with someone in your family

  • tree who came way, way, way before you, and explained it like this:

  • "Because humans evolved as foragers, our brains learned to recognize and desire things that

  • pack a lot of calories.

  • The caloric density scale ranges from 0 for water to 9 for pure fat."

  • Wondering where KFC stacks up?

  • Let's just say this chicken should satisfy the forager within.

  • "While raw chicken without the skin has a caloric density of 1.35, KFC's original chicken

  • breast scores 2.3.

  • The extra crispy version gets a 2.9.

  • The skin by itself scores an intoxicating 5.0."

  • To put it plainly, our ancestors knew that to survive on a sparse diet while still having

  • to plunder for food and travel great distances, they needed calorie-rich food to sustain them.

  • So, if anyone ever questions your devotion to KFC's fried chicken, just tell them it

  • runs in the family.

  • "C'mon, hon.

  • Live a little.

  • A few calories won't kill ya."

  • It's a well-known fact of life that salt makes everything taste better.

  • Even if the flavor profile is near perfect, salt can make it better.

  • So, is it really surprising that KFC's scrumptious chicken is chock-full of sodium?

  • Nah.

  • That clever Colonel Sanders knew exactly what he was doing when he developed the recipe

  • that the world would absolutely fall in love with.

  • In an interview with NPR in 2012, researcher Paul Breslin at Philadelphia's Monell Center

  • pointed toward the peculiar paradox of humans' love of salt.

  • "If you don't keep up your sodium level in your body, you'll die.

  • [But] there's no question that people who have high salt intakes are at risk for a heart

  • attack and stroke and death, and that lowering their salt intake will save lives."

  • Still, people don't like to let a little thing like looming mortality get in the way of our

  • appreciation for salt.

  • This ties into KFC because their fried chicken, as you might have guessed, is incredibly salty.

  • According to their own nutrition chart, one Original Recipe chicken breast has a whopping

  • 1,190 mg of sodium.

  • Considering that the American Heart Association recommends limiting your sodium intake to

  • just 1,500 mg a day, well, is it any wonder we love what's so, so bad for us?

  • Sometimes the food that's the best is the food that's quick and affordable, and KFC's

  • chicken is both.

  • Most of KFC's menu items are a downright steal.

  • A two-piece chicken combo will only set you back $5.99, and you can get an entire 8-piece

  • fried chicken meal with two large sides and four biscuits all for less than $22.

  • Who doesn't like saving money?

  • Also, it goes without saying that sometimes when you're tired and have been dealing with

  • work or kids or whatever all day, you crave comfort food.

  • According to Psychology Today, this is normal human behavior.

  • They explain:

  • "Eating food high in fat, sugar or salt activates the brain's reward system.

  • Highly palatable foods activate the same brain regions of reward and pleasure that are active

  • in drug addiction."

  • So what they're saying is, yep!

  • You're definitely addicted to KFC, just as you've suspected for many, many years.

  • Chalk it up to your brain's reward system.

  • Make no mistake: Fresh-out-of-the-pressure-cooker KFC fried chicken really is finger lickin'

  • good.

  • But most of us can't scarf down all of our order in one fell swoop.

  • So, we do the normal, responsible thing and stash our leftovers in the fridge.

  • And you know what?

  • That chicken is just as good cold as it is piping hot.

  • What gives?

  • For starters, eating cold chicken isn't a new concept at all.

  • There's a reasonable explanation for this phenomenon, it would seem.

  • According to Southern Kitchen, magic happens when fried chicken cools.

  • The skin contracts, the crust separates, and that oh-so-delicious breading stays crunchy

  • while the loss of some of the moisture concentrates the flavor.

  • And you've gotta love that flavor.

  • Here's something you probably don't give much thought to: how your food sounds probably

  • affects the way you think it tastes.

  • In a 2015 study, cognitive neurology researchers called sound the "forgotten flavor sense"

  • for its importance in our enjoyment of food.

  • The gist is simple, and says that our perception of flavor is multi-sensory, as is the actual

  • experience of eating.

  • And this is where KFC has an advantage.

  • [CRUNCHY CHICKEN!]

  • The study found that crispiness and pleasantness were definitely connected when it came time

  • to rate how tasty food is, and that's true for everything from fried chicken to potato

  • chips.

  • It's also why marketing campaigns focus so much on the crunchy, crispy sounds their foods

  • make.

  • Why are we like this?

  • It's possible that our brains associate crispness with freshness, thereby signaling to our inner

  • ancestral foragers that the crispy chicken contains the kind of vitamins and nutrients

  • that our bodies need.

  • So once again, go ahead and blame your ancient ancestors for your weekly KFC run.

  • They're not around to argue with you anyway.

  • Check out one of our newest videos right here!

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Anyone who's ever bitten into a piping hot piece of KFC's fried chicken knows it's delicious.

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This Is Why KFC's Fried Chicken Is So Delicious

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/02/25
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