Sunday, March 28, 2010

KFC Took the Honey Out of the Honey

KFC Honey Sauce PacketI haven’t eaten at KFC for some time, but I had a free lunch coupon and so I gave it a try.

One recent change at KFC’s in Austin is they no longer offer Extra Crispy chicken. They did not do this because they are trying to be healthier, but because of the lack of demand within the more health conscious city. The manager at that time said they don’t cook very much extra crispy chicken in advance because few people buy it anymore and if they pre-cook too much it goes to waste. Now, the restaurants in Austin have completely removed that option from the menu. The only options now are original recipe and grilled chicken.

The hosts of a local radio stations made a big deal about this change, lamenting the loss of the tradition of ordering extra crispy for certain family gatherings. They were upset there was no notice so they could not go in for one last extra crispy nostalgia trip. But it turned out that KFC still offers extra crispy elsewhere where there is enough demand. So Austinites now have to take a 20-30 minute drive to Buda their extra crispy fix, or else go down the street to Church’s chicken.

A few days ago I went in to use up my lunch coupon. I tried to pick the least un-healthy options including grilled chicken and vegetable sides. The lunch came with a biscuit and I couldn’t help tear open the honey packet, tear the biscuit in half, and smother it with honey. I remember growing up it was a highlight of the Kentucky Fried Chicken meal (back then it wasn’t called KFC yet) to have the honey covered biscuits and sticky fingers that came with it.

I figured using natural honey would not be as bad as most sweeteners. But after I ate the honey and biscuit, I noticed that the packet was NOT a packet of honey.

It was a packet of Honey Sauce! With only 11% real honey!

KFC Honey Sauce Packet

KFC Honey Sauce Packet IngredientsThe ingredients is sad. It is listed below with the largest in quantity listed first:

- High fructose corn syrup
- Sugar
- Honey (11%, according to front of the packet)
- Corn syrup (again?)
- Natural Flavors
- Caramel Color

This means that up to 89% of the sauce is a combination of corn syrup and sugars not from honey.

This leaves me with a couple of questions:

Did KFC ever have real honey or has it always been honey sauce? I suppose it is an inevitable cost-cutting measure, especially with US honey production falling as native honey bees are disappearing.

If natural flavor is a separate ingredient than the actual honey, then what is the ingredient used to provide the natural flavor?

I checked, and saw that Starbucks honey packets are still 100% honey, but I wonder how long that would last. I will have to remember to swipe a couple of those to use when I use my other free lunch coupon at KFC.

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  1. And this shows the vast chasm between our two cities... At a KFC in Memphis, there are only two options: Extra Crispy or Original Recipe. NO grilled chicken. Pathetic.

  2. I remember in reading "Fast Food Nation" about the difference between natural and artificial flavorings. Both are merely chemicals concocted in some Jersey lab but one is based on the smell of an actual food and the other is a mixture of chemicals to mimic a food, like barbecue sauce - the smell is not natural to any food group so it includes articifical flavoring. Does that make sense?

    I haven't been to a KFC lately to see if the closest franchise is still selling extra crispy.

  3. Anne, Thanks for the explanaiton


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