Reporter Accidentally Finds KFC's Secret Recipe On Back Of Old Family Photo

KFC/Chicago Tribune

After all those years, it's finally been found.

The late Colonel Sanders' secret recipe for Kentucky Friend Chicken recently found its way into the hands of Chicago Tribune journalist Jay Jones... practically by mistake.

For years, KFC has made sure to keep the secret. The company has even gone to the great lengths of having two different suppliers prepare the herbs and spices so neither supplier could know the exact recipe, a spokesman told the Tribune.

But during a trip to Kentucky, Jones met up with 67-year-old Joe Ledington, a nephew of Colonel Sanders through marriage. While meeting with Jones, Ledington pointed out an album that had a certain picture in it. On the back of that picture, there was a list.

Ledington told Jones.

That is the original 11 herbs and spices that were supposed to be so secretive.

Ledington said the list wasn't in Colonel Sanders' handwriting, but he remembers using the mix as a young boy to help with the business. He added,

The big thing we did was mix it with flour and bag it up and sell it to restaurants. Actually, my job was cutting up chickens and bagging up chicken mix. That's what I did as a 10-, 11-, 12-year-old kid.

Ledington even pointed out a secret ingredient: white pepper. By the looks of Jones' article, Ledington was more than happy to open up about a decades-old secret. However, Jones says Ledington eventually began to backtrack from his confidence in the recipe.

When the Tribune reached out to a KFC, the company neither confirmed nor denied the recipe was in fact the recipe. But the Tribune tested the chicken recipe itself and insisted the results were delicious.

So it sure looks like we've arrived at two truths here. One: Joe Ledington let the secret out. And two: because of that, it's no longer much of a secret.

Citations: Chicago Tribune