This story was first published on March 5, 2013
Circulating message claims that fast-food outlet KFC changed its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken because it uses genetically manipulated organisms rather than real chickens and therefore cannot legally use the word “chicken” in its name. As evidence, the message cites a “recent study” conducted by the University of New Hampshire.
The claims in the message are false. The message is an absurd hoax that has circulated continually since at least the year 2000. The claim that KFC uses genetically manipulated organisms rather than chicken is utter nonsense. The University of New Hampshire has publicly denied conducting any such study. The company switched names to reflect changes in its image and menu, not because it no longer used real chicken. And, despite the claim in the message, KFC constantly and continually uses the word “chicken” on its website and in its menus, product descriptions and advertisements.
KFC has been a part of our American traditions for many years. Many people, day in and day out, eat at KFC religiously. Do they really know what they are eating? During a recent study of KFC done at the University of New Hampshire, they found some very upsetting facts.
First of all, has anybody noticed that just recently, the company has changed their name? Kentucky Fried Chicken has become KFC. Does anybody know why? We thought the real reason was because of the “FRIED” food issue. It’s not. The reason why they call it KFC is because they can not use the word chicken anymore. Why? KFC does not use real chickens. They actually use genetically manipulated organisms. These so called “chickens” are kept alive by tubes inserted into their bodies to pump blood and nutrients throughout their structure. They have no beaks, no feathers, and no feet. Their bone structure is dramatically shrunk to get more meat out of them. This is great for KFC because they do not have to pay so much for their production costs. There is no more plucking of the feathers or the removal of the beaks and feet.
The government has told them to change all of their menus so they do not say chicken anywhere. If you look closely you will notice this. Listen to their commercials, I guarantee you will not see or hear the word chicken. I find this matter to be very disturbing. I hope people will start to realize this and let other people know.
Please forward this message to as many people as you can. Together we make KFC start using real chicken again.
This message, which has circulated in various formats since at least the turn of the century, claims that fast food outlet KFC no longer uses real chicken in its products. Instead, claims the message, KFC uses horrific “genetically manipulated organisms” that are kept alive by tubes and do not have beaks, feet or feathers. According to the message, the company changed its name from “Kentucky Fried Chicken” to “KFC” because its use of genetically manipulated organisms rather than real chickens meant it was no longer legally allowed to use the word “chicken” in its name, menus or advertising.
Supposedly, the information came to light after a recent study of KFC’s products conducted by the University of New Hampshire. Variants of the message have circulated via email and online for years on end and now include an oft-reposted social media version.
However, the claims in the message are utter nonsense. The claim that KFC uses genetically manipulated organisms rather than real chicken in its products has no factual basis. And the supposed university study mentioned in the message never took place.
The University of New Hampshire long ago published the following statement on its website denying the existence of such a study and dismissing the warning as a hoax:
An active Internet hoax, of the urban legend type, falsely claims that KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) is using genetically engineered organisms instead of chickens. The hoax includes reference to an unspecified study of KFC done at the University of New Hampshire and there is no such research or study that was done here.
When you read the message carefully you can see it has all the hallmarks of a hoax. It starts with a well known subject (KFC) and a timely topic (genetic modification of animals and plants) and then spins out a story that progresses from possible, to improbable, and finally to impossible. As an extra touch of false verisimilitude, there is the vague reference to a study at the University of New Hampshire!
And the company did not change its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC because of any legal restriction regarding use of the word “chicken”. In fact, the company began replacing “Kentucky Fried Chicken” with “KFC” as far back as 1991 as a means of emphasizing product variety. And the abbreviation “KFC” was in use well before that time. A February 1991, Bloomberg Businessweek article about the change noted:
So, the Pepsico Inc. unit has decided to change its image and its menu. Under the leadership of Kyle Craig, president of the U. S. business, and his boss, Kentucky Fried Chief Executive John M. Cranor III, the chain is trying to reposition itself in consumers’ eyes in hopes of attracting more careful eaters to its 5,000 restaurants. The goal is to turn the $3.2 billion business into a chain of one-stop chicken eateries offering both fried chicken and such nonfried items as broiled chicken and chicken salad sandwiches. To sell this change, Craig and Cranor are planning a gradual replacement of the original name with just the initials KFC. “The key is to reduce dependence on the word `fried,’ ” says Craig.
Moreover, the claim in the message that the Government ordered KFC to stop using the word “chicken” in their menus or advertising is demonstrably false. A quick review of the KFC website reveals that the word “chicken” is used repeatedly throughout the site in menus, product names and descriptions, ingredients lists and promotional material. And “chicken” is extensively used in the company’s external advertisements as well.
KFC, like other fast food companies, has been criticized for its corporate activities by environmental and animal rights organizations. However, spreading absurd and demonstrably false claims about a company will do nothing whatsoever to address any environmental concerns regarding a company’s conduct.
It is time that this tired old hoax was finally laid to rest once and for all.