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KFC fans drive a menu revolution

Fried chicken makes way for brussels sprouts and birthday cake with the viral social media trend crowned by #MakeItKFC event where 16 unlikely foods were given the Colonel Sanders treatment.

It started with a simple tweet: “I’d love to take the broccoli my auntie subjected me to and turn it into KFC so it could actually have a little flavour.”

KFC thought it was a cool idea and replied with a video of [influencer’s] dream broccoli coated with its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. And just like that, a viral phenomenon was born, complete with its own hashtag: #MakeItKFC.

Ideas started flooding in: Could a pineapple be made KFC? What about birthday cake? So KFC decided to ask South Africa what foods would be tastier if they were made KFC.

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“Our inbox exploded and we quickly realised this was no longer just a hashtag – it was a movement that was uniting people who love the iconic taste of KFC,” says KFC Chief Marketing Officer Grant Macpherson. “And we thought it deserved an event celebrating all the foods that taste better when they are given the KFC treatment.”

Planning to put together a flavourful and memorable menu, KFC ran a series of online polls to identify fan favourites. “What ‘my mom made me eat that’ foods should we make KFC?” one asked. “Which dreary dinners should hit the fryer?”

Sixteen foods were the clear winners, and now it was time for a KFC food scientist and chef to slave over a hot fryer and get them right.

“Every item that has the KFC name attached to it is tested and perfected,” says Macpherson. “This had to follow the same process to make sure that whatever we made KFC was impeccable.”

When the menu was ready, social media fans of #MakeItKFC were invited to a store that was transformed for the day into an experiential kitchen. And instead of ordering fried chicken, they got to try the dishes they’d helped create.

Even the packaging was customised, with boxes bearing legends like “I used to be a pizza” and “I used to be sushi”. (That’s right: KFC even fried its competition, and the feedback was clear. “You guys should seriously colab,” said one guest as she sank her teeth into a cheeseburger made KFC. “Am I allowed to say it’s better?”)

Macpherson says: “In short, people ate it up – in more ways than one. They couldn’t believe how delicious familiar and often dull foods can be when they’re made KFC.”

So, what were the unlikely items that suddenly became better by being made KFC? The menu listed them in four categories:

South African Staples: Milk tart, mealie, biltong, steak pie

Eat Your Greens: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach

Savoury Sweets: Ice-cream cone, birthday cake, pineapple, grapes, popcorn

Frying The Competition: Cheeseburger, pizza, grilled chicken, sushi

“#MakeItKFC started as a bit of fun after a random tweet but it quickly took on a life of its own,” says Macpherson. “It was a powerful reminder of the enduring magic of Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe, which he perfected 84 years ago. It really can make just about anything taste better. But let’s be honest: there’s still nothing beats the taste of our Original Recipe finger-lickin’ good chicken.”

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