Monday, August 16, 2004

The restaurant chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken is now calling itself KFC. Due to trends in healthy eating, they rather badly want people not to see the word hiding behind that "F". [Update: or maybe the one behind the "K" -- see below.] For similar reasons, I was interested to observe recently in Harvard Square, posters for pro-revolutionary speeches by Bob Avakian now praise him as the leader, not of any organization named by full English words, but of the "RCP".

I guess they're not above picking up a few marketing tricks from the capitalists...

Update: As noted by a couple of commenters, Snopes has a page describing this as a myth -- but one with a very peculiar origin: it was orignally spread by the company itself:

Back to our story: In 1991, Kentucky Fried chicken announced that it was officially changing its name to "KFC" (as well as updating its packaging and logo with a more modern, sleeker look). The public relations reason given for the name change was that health-conscious consumers associated the word "fried" with "unhealthy" and "high cholesterol," causing some of them to completely shun the wide variety of "healthy" menu items being introduced at Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. The new title and image were designed to lure back customers to a restaurant now offering foods branded as "better for you," we were told.

It sounded good, but the real reason behind the shift to KFC had nothing to do with healthy food or finicky consumers...

... but rather, that the Commonwealth of Kentucky, being very nearly broke, was using legal gimmickry to extort cash from businesses using "Kentucky" in their trade names. So, according to Snopes, rather than embarass the bureaucrats who were contriving to extort cash from them, KFC management instead concocted a remarkable scheme which involved calling their own food unhealthy to conceal the very existence of the dispute.

Maybe so -- there were other name changes associated with the extortion racket. But there were also a lot of complaints at the time about fried food, which Snopes itself cites as the reason for the change on a different page, more recently updated, which doesn't even mention the licensing story. I report, you decide.

Fortunately, the case of Mr. Avakian's group presents no such ambiguity -- the words "Revolutionary" and "Party" were both on the poster, so it's kind of obvious what they'd just rather not tell you about the RCP...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a common myth that is dispelled easily.

Kentucky Fried Chicken changed their marketing to KFC due to a license fee that is required by the Commonwealth of Kentucky for any business that uses the name Kentucky in their title.

KFC decided this cost was unfair, and too high to maintain over a long period of time.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not what it says here:

They discuss the issue and don't mention a license fee...

- Mike

6:36 AM  

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