Kentucky Fried Chicken is the most prevalent fast food chain in the world, according to Insider Monkey, with locations in 145 different countries. Its first restaurant opened in 1952 in Salt Lake City, and the rest, as they say, is history. The chain's presence grew to become grand-scale, naturally leading to a massive and universal fan base ... much of which claimed there was nothing better in fast food. With its comfort-food style menu -- including mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, and those huge chicken buckets we still remember from all the classic commercials -- KFC took the fast food culinary world by storm.
But growth can come at a cost. As some chain restaurants advance, some feel that the quality of the products going out to customers begins to wane ... and a number of recent consumers of KFC are claiming that this unfortunate trend has affected their beloved chicken chain, as well. "I have stopped going because all the ones near me have declined," said a user on Reddit on a thread discussing the company's suggested downward spiral. "Whenever you order, the food is either cold, overly greasy, or just not nice." While this opinion is certainly a debatable one, there do seem to exist quite a few specific menu items that even the employees charged with preparing have described in a similarly negative light. Here are some KFC menu items the staff won't even eat.
The Chicken Pot Pies
Is there anything more comforting heading into the cold winter months than a warm chicken pot pie? KFC's variant features the classic combination of steaming sauce, softened potatoes, peas, carrots -- and, of course, chicken. However, the poultry used within the savory mixture buried inside each of the pies' flaky outer crusts may not be the freshest in the kitchen. According to an employee suggesting that consumers avoid the Chicken Pot Pies made at their place of work, the meat inside is reportedly often several days old.
"Anywhere from 8 hours to 3 days," they divulged on Reddit when a disgusted customer requested further information about the age of the pot pie chicken innards. "After we close, the chicken that we did not sell gets deboned, put in a bag, and put into a refrigerator so we could use it for the potpies." Another employee, who confirmed this method on a separate thread, also added: "If your store tells you they're out of pot pies until [the] truck comes, it may very well mean 'We haven't had any meat leftover the last few nights.'" While this is indeed interesting, it could definitely be viewed as off-putting for many.
There have been a variety of barbecue sandwich variants produced and sold at KFC over the years, such as the coveted Honey BBQ Sandwich or the Smoky Mountain BBQ Sandwich. Both featured flavorful pulled chicken or pork, which was soaked in delicious barbecue-style sauces before being sandwiched in between a fluffy bun ... and for the most part, consumers happily ate these hearty treats up. That is, however, until the exceptionalism of the chain's sandwich creations was called into question by a former employee online.
On a post titled, "Fast food workers of Reddit, what should we NOT order at your restaurant?" a worker cast doubts in many people's minds when they posted one shocking comment: "The BBQ sandwich is actually made from chicken too old and stale to give to the homeless shelters, so they soak it in BBQ sauce until it can be pulled and then they keep it on the heater for a month." Whether or not this description was exaggerated or literal, it seemed more than enough to make consumers second guess themselves. "Ew...I knew there was something off about KFC," responded a grossed-out user. We'll admit, it certainly makes us wonder as to the process of how the chain's newest barbecue sandwich, the recently-released Ultimate BBQ Fried Chicken Sandwich, is prepared ... and whether or not we'll be ordering one.
When we think of gravy, we like to envision a base of fresh pan drippings, real flour, and creamy butter stirred to perfection in a delicious-smelling pot on the stove. Unfortunately, as we all know, not all gravy gets such a romantic start ... like batches made from ready-made powder, for example. But similar to the paper gravy packets we can grab from the aisles of our local grocery store in a pinch, employees of KFC confirm that the chain's signature brown gravy gets its start in exactly the same way ... and that it is a major turn-off.
"Gravy Recipe?" reads the title of a Reddit thread crafted by a curious consumer under r/kfc. Without delay, multiple alleged workers hopped on to respond. "Comes from a bag, I work at KFC," said one, while another detailed: "bag of brown powder, and hot water." Yet another went so far as to refer to the concoction as being a chemical mixture to which you add liquid, and the disdain these employees feel for the unexciting product reads evidently. However, another worker on the same thread described how their location utilizes leftover chicken bits from the fryer (called cracklings) to promote flavor. Though it appears that this extra step is not put into practice at each and every KFC restaurant, even if it was, it's unclear whether or not it would change the overall skeptical employee opinion on the creamy side.
The Mashed Potatoes
A staple for any holiday meal, mashed potatoes have been a favorite in American households since the 1700s. But while we may picture a multi-step process of boiling, mashing, and mixing in order to create a perfect bowl of creamy deliciousness, things reportedly go a little differently in the kitchens of KFC when it comes to preparing the popular potato side.
"How does KFC make their mashed potatoes taste so disgusting?" reads the title of a fiery post on Reddit created by a displeased consumer. "Isn't it freeze-dried mash that's mixed with water and heated then held warm?" speculated another customer in the comments section. Multiple alleged employees quickly piggybacked off of this description, confirming it by explaining that -- in a technique similar to the popular KFC Gravy -- the Mashed Potatoes come in packs of powder that are combined with hot water to become activated, morphing into the side dish we all recognize. While this notion obviously puts off many consumers, the feeling appears to extend also to those who must mix the mysterious potato powder themselves in the backs of the KFC kitchens.
The Mac & Cheese ... If It's Old
For the most part, the Mac & Cheese at KFC is widely enjoyed by consumers. "Great mac n cheese for a fast food [restaurant]," raves a customer on TripAdvisor. "The pasta was tender and had loads [...] of cheese, simply incredible for my grandson." Interestingly, however, Reddit is alive with reviews that say the exact opposite. "Is it just me, or does the Mac and cheese at KFC seem gross and dried up?" reads the title of a thread in which the user describes unappealing texture and missing creaminess. According to employees, the onset of this crunchy, dry, unpleasant consistency is often brought on by over-baking -- or by prolonged exposure to excessive heat.
"They either overcooked it, or it sat out too long in the hot well," said one worker on the thread. "They're suppose[d] to add water to it if it's too dry, but, you know, not everyone does what they should." Additional employees on this same thread, as well as in other conversations on Reddit, echoed the same thing regarding the Mac & Cheese. There seems to be nearly universal agreement among workers that a fresh bowl of cheesy noodles is an enjoyable one ... but that an old bowl is decidedly not. We suppose we will have to hope our next Mac & Cheese order coincides with a freshly whipped-up batch the next time we stop in at KFC for a fix.
The New KFC Nuggets
In March of this year, KFC rolled out a brand new menu item ... its very own signature Chicken Nuggets. But while the chain hails this new addition as something truly special, many consumers and employees alike seem to hold it in much lower esteem. Perhaps this can be attributed to a less than stellar taste -- which one Reddit user described as a "worse version of Chick-fil-A nuggets" -- but we wonder if there is something else at play, as well, while consumers are forming opinions on the new product. Could it be possible that some of the animosity toward the nuggets is caused by the fact that a long-time, popular chicken favorite was dropped from the menu at the very same time they were added?
KFC's bite-sized popcorn chicken was cut from the regular menu this year, and the chain's fan base has some strong opinions about the seeming nugget replacement. "They should have stuck with the popcorn chicken," said a consumer on Reddit. "That was better tasting and a better value." Another on the same thread fired off angrily about the new addition: "They're so bad. Wish I could personally talk to the person who decided to replace popcorn chicken for these nuggets so I can call them an idiot." Ouch. With so much backfire, it remains to be seen whether this particular switch will stick.
The Bowls With Chicken Nuggets ... Instead Of Popcorn Chicken
KFC's Famous Bowls are a slew of warm mashed potatoes, sweet corn, gravy drizzle, and sprinkled cheese served with the most succulent topper -- steaming fried chicken. For years, handfuls of the chain's itty-bitty bite-sized Popcorn Chicken were used atop its potato bowls to create a savory crunch that many consumers felt made the dish complete. But since the chain replaced its Popcorn Chicken with Chicken Nuggets earlier this year, the bowls have been changed to reflect this ... and now, the much larger nuggets have become a poultry topper, instead.
"Yes, these did replace popcorn chicken," confirmed an alleged employee on Reddit, "which means that the Famous Bowl and Mac and Cheese Bowls actually have these nuggets on top now instead of popcorn chicken." Change can be a difficult thing to swallow, especially when it comes to food, so as you might expect, strong feelings followed the admission of this alteration. One replying user on this same thread called the bowl substitution a poor one, while another called out the fact that the nuggets -- which are much bigger -- do not deliver the same bite-sized crunch one receives from the popcorn chicken. "I always thought half the appeal of bowls was eating things in tiny bite sized pieces, so you can mix the flavors together," the consumer says. "Having giant chicken nuggets on top seems more like throwing all your food on one plate."
The Chicken ... From Certain Locations
There's no doubt about it; restaurants serving chicken need to take precautions. Poultry is listed among the top foods that can cause salmonella and other food-related illnesses by the CDC -- and a chicken tender that has not been prepared properly or that has been touched by a pair of contaminated gloves, for example, could easily cause a consumer to become sick. If anything "off" is suspected, it should go without saying that the said meat is disposed of -- certainly not served to a hungry customer.
However, employees on Reddit have reported some rather questionable practices coming out of certain KFC locations. Under the subreddit r/corvallis, a Doordash worker on their way inside a local KFC to pick up an order explained how they were stopped by an exiting employee of the chain. The reason? The chicken, according to this worker, appeared sickly ... and the manager, rather than taking these concerns seriously, had ordered its continual sale. The employee felt it was unethical -- perhaps even dangerous -- to push it out to customers, and so had refused to complete their shift. On a separate thread, another former employee outlined how their manager had ignored culinary safety guidelines by serving old chicken and poultry pieces that had touched the floor. Whether or not the chickens were truly infected in these cases, we can't say ... but there do exist consumer proclamations online blaming KFC for various food-borne illnesses. We wouldn't count it out.
The Fries, If Not Prepared Properly
KFC's Secret Recipe Fries are a bit of a sweet-and-sour product for the chain. They came out in 2019 and immediately faced mixed reviews from consumers -- some of whom call them the best in the business. Others, however, take to Reddit to begin threads titled, "Why are KFC fries so terrible? This is baffling." But while naysayers appear convinced that the popular chain's fries are a total flop, according to employees, they have much more potential for deliciousness than some give them credit for. If cooked right, they claim, the sliced potatoes can be a wonderful, crunchy accompaniment to a fried chicken meal. It is when they are cooked incorrectly in some way, workers claim, that the problem arises.
"Only get fries if they're not lying when you ask if the oil is fresh," said an employee on Reddit. "As an employee, I don't like the fries or even eat them unless the oil is new." Another worker on the same thread took issue with this, countering with: "No, no, no. It's got nothing to do with the oil. It's that they're not using the timers, so they're being served [past] the throw out time. This is the issue." Regardless of who is correct in this scenario, the end result remains the same: many are not pleased with their fries, and it seems that something as simple as human error may be to blame.
The Flour For The Chicken Breading
Fried chicken stands out from other poultry variants for one primary reason: that quintessential, flavorful, and crunchy outer coating. Before they are dropped into hot oil, raw chicken parts are rolled in a mixture usually consisting of buttermilk, various seasonings, and flour -- the makings that create the essential crispy covering that fried poultry is known for. Needless to say, we would all expect -- or at the very least, hope -- that the flour set out for coating is a fresh batch. However, according to employees, this is not the case at the KFC kitchens in which they work.
An alleged former employee on Reddit claimed that the flour in their location's kitchen was rarely changed between chicken breading sessions. "Also, the flour for the chicken was never changed out," the comment reads, "so when we breaded your chicken, it was from really old flour and seasoning." This disconcerting admission was then confirmed by a second employee on the same thread: "Yup. Never changed out the flour when I worked there either, just added to it and sifted after mixing." While we can't confirm whether it is time, cost, or some other unknown reason driving the decision to keep the bucket of flour unchanged, we can say that there are plenty of people lining up for the sandwiches, nuggets, and tenders it helps create. KFC remains one of the most sought-after places to get fried chicken -- old flour or not.
Read the original article on Mashed.