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The latest news on KFC from Business Insider

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    KFC Jason Alexander

    • KFC's newest Colonel Sanders is Jason Alexander, the actor and comedian. 
    • Alexander, best known for playing George Costanza on Seinfeld, is the latest of a long list of celebrities — including Billy Zane, Darrell Hammond, and Reba McEntire — to star in KFC commercials as Colonel Sanders. 
    • Alexander will help promote the chain's $20 Fill Ups, KFC's bucket-centric takeout bundle intended to feed a group.


    KFC has a new Colonel Sanders. 

    The fried-chicken chain announced on Monday that the newest celebrity Colonel is Jason Alexander, the actor and comedian best known for playing George Costanza on the television show "Seinfeld."

    Alexander will help promote the chain's $20 Fill Ups, KFC's bucket-centric takeout bundle intended to feed a group. KFC is now offering four varieties of the $20 Fill Up, with buckets of original recipe chicken, extra crispy chicken, crispy tenders, or filet. 

    "With four chicken meals to choose from and each at only $20, we are continuing KFC's tradition of providing an easy dinnertime solution for families at a great value — and there's no better person to spread the word about our new 'family of four' in a sitcom setting than comedy extraordinaire Jason Alexander!" Andrea Zahumensky, KFC's US CMO, said in a statement. 

    kfc reba 2

    KFC has cast a wide range of stars to play Colonel Sanders in recent years, including Billy Zane, Darrell Hammond, and Reba McEntire, who served as the chain's first female Colonel earlier this year. 

    The chain debuted its Colonel Sanders-centric marketing campaign in 2015.

    Despite initial backlash, the campaign has sparked somewhat of a turnaround at KFC, which has seen moderate sales growth over the last three years in the US. Last week, KFC reported that US same-store sales were flat in the most recent quarter. 

    Here's the first KFC ad starring Jason Alexander as Colonel Sanders: 


    SEE ALSO: KFC is debuting a bizarre, pickle-flavored fried chicken. Here's the verdict.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Hapthor Bjornsson The Mountain Game of Thrones actor is new KFC Colonel Sanders

    For more great stories, head to INSIDER's homepage.

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    • Authorities say they found a drug smuggling tunnel leading to Mexico in the kitchen of a former KFC.
    • The tunnel is reportedly 8 inches in diameter, 22 feet deep, and about 600 feet long.
    • Officers believe that people were using a rope to transport the drugs back and forth, according to reports.
    • The tunnel was discovered after a drug bust in which officers say they found 168 kilograms of narcotics in a man's car.
    • The tunnel is currently being investigated. 

    Authorities in San Luis, Arizona, say they found a drug tunnel that leads to a home in Mexico in the kitchen of a former Kentucky Fried Chicken, KCBD reports

    The nearly 600-foot-long tunnel was discovered after an August 13 drug bust, according to the outlet. During a police traffic stop, 168 kilograms — or 360 pounds —of narcotics were found inside toolboxes in a car being driven by a man named Ivan Lopez, KYMA reported. 

    In the car, authorities say they found 118 kilograms of methamphetamine, 6 grams of cocaine, 3 kilograms of fentanyl, 13 kilograms of white heroin and 6 kilograms of brown heroin, per KYMA.

     Lopez, who owns the building that housed the former KFC, was allegedly seen removing the toolboxes from the former restaurant earlier that day, a Homeland Security agent said, according to KYMA.

    After discovering the narcotics, agents executed a search warrant on both Lopez's home and the former KFC, both outlets reported. They found the tunnel in the kitchen of the restaurant. 

    The alleged smuggling tunnel runs from the kitchen of the former KFC to a home in Mexico, where it opens into a trap door underneath a bed, according to KCBD. The tunnel is 8 inches in diameter, 22 feet deep, and about 600 feet long. Agents believe that a rope was used to transport the drugs back and forth. 

    The tunnel is currently being investigated. 

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

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    KFC Chicken Tenders

    • KFC is developing a new value strategy that includes deals beyond its fill-ups and buckets, the chain's chief marketing officer, Andrea Zahumensky, told Business Insider.
    • Customers "are more pinched than ever, so we want to provide solutions for them," Zahumensky said.
    • Fast-food chains are slashing prices in an attempt to win over customers who refuse to — or can't afford to — pay more for their meals.

    KFC, known for its fill-up and bucket deals, is exploring a new approach to value as fast-food chains slash prices.

    "$5 fill-ups and $20 fill-ups will continue to be an important part of our brand and an important part of our strategy, but we're also looking at new tools to bring to the market ... in 2019," KFC's US chief marketing officer, Andrea Zahumensky, told Business Insider.

    For example, Zahumensky said, the chain is testing a two-for-$3 Chicken Littles sandwich deal in Nashville, Tennessee, a lower price point than the $5 fill-up.

    "It's really in response to watching our customers' needs," Zahumensky said. "They are more pinched than ever, so we want to provide solutions for them so they can come to KFC and really feel satisfied."

    KFC vs Popeye's 3

    When KFC launched the $5 and $20 fill-up meals in 2015, they served as an instant sales boost. But, three years later, KFC is looking for a new sales driver. With gas prices nearing a four-year high and the cost of healthcare rising, Zahumensky says, many KFC customers have less discretionary income than they enjoyed in recent years.

    "We stay very close to our customers and make sure we really understand their reality, what they're going through right now," Zahumensky said.

    KFC isn't alone in reconsidering its value strategy and slashing prices whenever possible. In 2018, Wendy's expanded its 4-for-$4 bundle deal, Taco Bell doubled down on its $1 menu, and McDonald's debuted its new $1 $2 $3 menu.

    Zahumensky attributes the industry's many deals to a desire to appeal to an increasingly squeezed customer base.

    While the median US income is on the rise, top earners' income growth is significantly outpacing earnings increases for lower-income households. In 2017, the top 5% of households saw average incomes rise to 8.7% higher than prerecession levels. Among the bottom fifth of the population, average incomes still grew but remained 2.7% below prerecession figures.

    KFC vs Popeye's 5A UBS Evidence Lab survey shared with investors in March found that customers said "good value" was the top reason they would visit a fast-food chain more often.

    According to the survey, the emphasis on value is one of necessity. Having "less free spending money lately" and chains being "too expensive" were the top two factors that customers cited for eating at a particular chain less often.

    Part of KFC's plan for value in 2019 involves looking at different price points, though Zahumensky says the chain will avoid "random" bundles of menu items. KFC also isn't planning to offer a dollar menu, the weapon of choice for chains including McDonald's and Taco Bell.

    The price of chicken — which KFC fries in locations' kitchens at a greater expense than preparing elsewhere would cost — limits the chain from pushing out $1 menu items.

    While it could, theoretically, serve something like a single chicken wing for a dollar, to do so would be antithetical to KFC's emphasis on its deals being satisfying meals, something Zahumensky says sets the chain apart from its rivals.

    "We really try and stay true to doing things the hard way — which also means that, sometimes we can't have the quality that we expect at a dollar," Zahumensky said.

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    KFC News Fries 2

    • KFC promoted a series of tweets criticizing its fries.
    • One tweet, written by Londoner Charlie Burness, called the fries "crap."
    • KFC is promoting its relaunched fries, which are thicker and chunkier.

    Four years ago, 30-year-old Charlie Burness decided to skip London's fancy restaurants and head to KFC for a relaxed dinner with her mother.

    However, one aspect of their supper disappointed: the fries. So, naturally, Burness headed to Twitter to vent her frustration with the fried-chicken chain.

    "I've got to say, KFC are riding solely on their chicken because Christ, those are crap fries," she wrote.

    Now, KFC has revealed that Burness' dig helped prompt the chain to relaunch its fries across the UK.

    The chicken-lover's tweet was one of three promoted by KFC both on Twitter and in ads seen across British high streets.

    "Dear KFC, no one likes your fries. Yours sincerely, the entire world," Upgrade Music wrote in February of this year.

    "How can KFC be so good at chicken and so bad at fries?" Adam Marsh asked in 2016.

    While people were initially perplexed by KFC highlighting the old tweets, it soon became clear that the fried-chicken chain was about to launch a new fry recipe.

    The new KFC fries are thicker, chunkier, and have the skin on, leading some people to compare them to Five Guys' famously popular fries.

    The company hopes the fries, which will launch in KFC's UK branches on November 19, will be better for dipping, as well as more delicious.

    It wasn't until KFC got in touch with Burness last month, asking if she'd allow the brand to pay Twitter to promote her tweet, that she realized her missive was part of something bigger.

    "I thought it was quite clever, actually," Burness told the BBC. "I knew it would grab attention because of the reputation their chips have.

    "To be honest, I think everyone knows KFC's chips are just not the best, really.

    "Everyone knows they've got a reputation for not delivering on the fries. They're kind of soggy, like they've been reheated as soon as you get them."

    Read more: KFC's secret ingredient is 'the most underappreciated spice' in the world

    The "Ain't No Small Fry" campaign was created by advertising agency Mother, which is the same team behind KFC's "FCK" campaign, launched after it experienced an unexpected chicken shortage.

    Jack Hinchliffe, innovation director for KFC's UK and Ireland branches, told the BBC, "We don't change things on a whim — the colonel's 'Original Recipe' chicken hasn't changed since he finalized it in 1940.

    "This was different, though. We heard the nation's outcry. We read the brutal tweets. We had to step up our fries game. Thicker, chunkier, tastier. Job done."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Colonel Sanders’ nephew revealed the family’s secret recipe — here’s how to make KFC’s ‘original' fried chicken

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    kfc chicken and waffles

    • On November 12, KFC added three new meals made with chicken and waffles to its menu.
    • The available options are chicken tenders, fried chicken, and a sandwich with Belgian Liège-style waffle buns, along with a side of Mrs. Butterworth's syrup. 
    • The fried chicken and chicken tenders remain the same as the fast-food's other chicken menu items, but the Liège-style waffles are sweeter and doughier than expected.
    • My favorite was the chicken and waffle sandwich, which had just the right balance of spicy and sweet for my taste.

    While pairing fried chicken and waffles together predates Colonel Sanders, it isn't until this year that KFC finally decided to try its hand at the iconic dish.

    After a trial at locations in Charlotte, North Carolina, this past summer, KFC started serving chicken and waffles nationwide from November 12 and will offer the dishes through December 31. 

    kfc chicken and waffles

    Meal options include waffles topped either with KFC's "Extra Crispy" fried chicken or "Extra Crispy" chicken tenders, and a chicken and waffle sandwich consisting of KFC's new "Hot Honey" fried chicken breast between two waffle buns. All three come with a side of Mrs. Butterworth maple-flavored syrup.

    Available in three different varieties, INSIDER tried KFC's new menu additions to see how they compare.

    The chicken tasted like any other KFC chicken, but the waffles made all the difference 

    kfc chicken and waffles

    For all three menu options, KFC used Belgian Liège-style waffles that are known to be dense and richer than Brussels waffles, the light and rectangular variety most popularly used in American cooking.

    Speaking to INSIDER, KFC's head chef Bob Das said the fast-food restaurant wanted to create a "new spin on a classic dish" while still maintaining the fundamentals of what makes chicken and waffles such a classic pairing.

    Das added that the company went through 15 different waffle variations before settling on the Liège-style waffle. He went on to say that the waffle is "sweeter and doughier than American style waffles," but that it combines seamlessly with KFC's fried chicken.

    KFC's chicken and waffle sandwich took me by surprise and ended up being my favorite

    KFC chicken and waffle sandwich

    As a self-professed lover of chicken and waffles, KFC entering the market was welcome news to me. Though they're fast food and not home-cooked, the dishes are still rich and a satisfying.

    KFC's use of the Liège-style waffle lent itself especially well to the sandwich, in my opinion. The waffles' density coupled with their sweetness complemented the chicken's sweet and hot flavoring. I thought the sandwich's flavor is unlike anything else on KFC's menu.

    The other chicken and waffle meals paled in comparison to the sandwich

    chicken and waffles ad kfc

    One mark against the release is that KFC lost some of its creativity with the two other dishes. In the plated chicken and waffle meals, the only new components were the addition of the waffles and syrup; the chicken remained unchanged from what KFC already offers.

    Read more: We tried fried chicken from 4 fast food chains — and the winner was clear

    I've eaten KFC's fried chicken and chicken tenders before, so there weren't any surprises there. While the sandwich took some liberties with its honey flavoring, I was a bit bored eating the plated dishes and it didn't feel like I was really getting anything new.

    That being said, I thought the waffles still paired well with KFC's chicken and made for a no-nonsense eating experience, as chicken and waffles always should.

    You can try the new chicken and waffle dishes at KFC restaurants in the US until December 31. 

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

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    Taco Bell Value Menu

    • As scale becomes increasingly important in the restaurant business, food companies are going on an acquisition spree.
    • Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, is "always looking" for acquisition targets, though the bar remains very high, according to president and chief financial officer David Gibbs.
    • "It would have to be a brand … that fits in with our growth drivers, that could be a big developer, that has a distinctive, relevant brand, that could grow same-store sales growth in the long term," Gibbs told Business Insider.

    The restaurant industry is increasingly becoming the land of the megabrands.

    There is JAB Holding, which owns chains including Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee, and Panera Bread. Restaurant Brands International has Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes. Inspire Brands is less than a year old and already owns Arby's, Sonic, and Buffalo Wild Wings.

    Many of these conglomerates have beefed up their portfolios in recent months, with deals such as Inspire buying Sonic and Krispy Kreme acquiring Insomnia Cookies.

    Read more:Arby's parent company is acquiring Sonic. Here's how the CEO says he picks which brands to buy.

    Then you have Yum Brands. The company has owned its three major chains — KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell — since the company was spun off from PepsiCo in 1997. Between the three chains, Yum has more than 45,000 locations around the world.

    "We don't need to do an acquisition to build scale. We already have scale," David Gibbs, Yum Brands' president and chief financial officer, told Business Insider following the company's investor conference on Wednesday.

    KFC Chicken Tenders

    Gibbs says he believes scale is becoming increasingly important in 2018. For example, the company's scale helped make possible its deal with GrubHub, in which Yum Brands purchased a $200 million stake in the delivery company.

    "That's why you're seeing so many other companies go out and try to acquire new concepts just to try and build their own scale," Gibbs said.

    According to Gibbs, brands seeking acquisitions are "always" presenting themselves to Yum Brands. But it takes a lot to make what he called the "distraction" of a new brand worth its while.

    "It would have to be a brand … that fits in with our growth drivers, that could be a big developer, that has a distinctive, relevant brand, that could grow same-store sales growth in the long term," Gibbs said.

    "If a brand fits all of our criteria — a lot of which I can't share for strategic reasons — then yes, we would go do an acquisition and be excited about it," Gibbs continued. "And we're always looking at them."

    Gibbs said that people should not expect a new chain to join Yum Brands' portfolio anytime soon. Instead, the company is more likely to acquire more tech-centric companies, as with its recent acquisition of delivery company QuikOrder.

    "We have a very high bar because we know the brands that we have today are incredible growth brands that we have just scratched the surface around the world in realizing their full potential," Gibbs said.

    SEE ALSO: The former CEO of Arby's is building a fast-food empire

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    Taco Bell Nacho Fries

    • Taco Bell and KFC are working to roll out delivery at locations across the United States. 
    • The two chains, along with fellow Yum Brands sister chain Pizza Hut, have added delivery to roughly 10,000 more locations globally over the last year. 
    • "We know more about delivery than just about any company on the face of the earth," Yum Brands president David Gibbs told Business Insider at the company's investors day last week. 

    Soon, people across the United States will be able to order KFC and Taco Bell to their doorstep. 

    The sister chains — owned by Yum Brands, as is Pizza Hut — are doubling down on delivery. In the last 12 months, Yum Brands has added delivery to roughly 10,000 more locations across the three brands, CEO Greg Creed said last week at the company's investors day. 

    "There's no doubt that the consumer wants delivery," Creed said. "There’s no doubt that they're prepared to pay for delivery. There's no doubt we see a higher check."

    Read more:Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer reveals why he believes delivery is an increasingly powerful force in the restaurant industry

    KFC aims to have 70% of its locations around the world deliver fried chicken, with the delivery business already thriving in areas such as the Middle East and Thailand. While executives said delivery was in its early days in the US, some American locations are already making 10% of sales off of delivery orders. And, by 2020, KFC plans to have more locations offering delivery than any single pizza chain. 

    Julie Felss Masino, the president of Taco Bell North America, told investors that early indications at stores that started offering delivery in September were "incredibly positive." Taco Bell has integrated more than 4,000 locations with Grubhub. Yum Brands announced plans to acquire $200 million in Grubhub stock in February. 

    'We know more about delivery than just about any company on the face of the earth'

    KFC Chicken Tenders

    "You'll see us take the delivery equation at KFC and Taco Bell step by step," David Gibbs, Yum Brands' president and chief financial officer, told Business Insider at Yum Brands' investors day.

    Yum Brands' first step is integrating point-of-sales systems. Next comes leaning in to marketing, something Gibbs says the chain is starting to do in local markets across the US, followed by national advertising.

    "There is very big potential for delivery at KFC and Taco Bell," Gibbs said. "The question is how quickly we can realize it." 

    The three brands together, as well as Grubhub, give Yum both more information and wider scale than other restaurants trying to profit from the delivery business. 

    "We are in a very unique position," Gibbs said. "We know more about delivery than just about any company on the face of the earth." 

    "You see a lot of people getting into it," Gibbs continued. "And not everyone is making money. People struggle with the functional aspects of it — getting food to customers on time and accurately. We've been learning those lessons for more than two decades in the United States and around the world." 

    SEE ALSO: The company behind Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut hasn't been caught up in the restaurant industry acquisition spree — yet. Here is what the president is looking for.

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    KFC Firelog

    • KFC is selling a log that it says smells like fried chicken.
    • The KFC 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog goes on sale on Thursday.
    • The log costs $18.99 and can be purchased online.

    KFC is kicking off the holiday season with a log that it says smells like fried chicken.

    On Thursday, the chicken chain announced that it would debut the KFC 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog. When lit, the log will smell like the chain's fried chicken, it said.

    Shoppers can buy a log for $18.99 at starting Thursday.

    "At KFC, we have always been proud of our role in bringing loved ones together at the dinner table around a bucket of our world-famous fried chicken," Andrea Zahumensky, the chief marketing officer of KFC US, said in a statement. "Now, this winter we're bringing all the things we love — family, friends and fried chicken — together around the fire with our scented firelog."

    KFC is known for its sometimes bizarre marketing ploys.

    Read more:Here are 7 of the weirdest deals and ads in recent fast-food history

    In 2016, the chicken chain gave away 3,000 bottles of Colonel Sanders' Extra Crispy Sunscreen, which it said also smelled like fried chicken. The lotion quickly sold out.

    KFC has also cast a long list of various actors, singers, and comedians as Colonel Sanders since 2015, including Billy Zane, Darrell Hammond, and Reba McEntire, who served as the chain's first female Colonel earlier this year.

    The chain's advertising strategy is rooted in mixing its history — such as the continued appearance of Colonel Sanders and the emphasis on its "11 herbs and spices"— with quirkier applications, like the scented log.

    "Over the years, we've had many, many people try and emulate KFC's successes ... and no one has ever got close," Tony Lowings, KFC's incoming global CEO, said at the investor day for its parent company, Yum Brands, earlier in December. "And part of the reason for that is that our history is real."

    SEE ALSO: KFC is testing even cheaper deals as customers are 'more pinched than ever'

    Join the conversation about this story »

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