Why Did KFC Cross the Road? (Because PR Was On The Other Side)

When KFC crowed on October 30, 2006, that it was planning to ban transfats in its U.S. fried chicken, the company had a PR machine behind it ready to score a news hit in one of the nation's fast food capitals, New York City. In a regimented plan that would have made Colonel Sanders proud, the company "lin[ed] up primary print and broadcast coverage in advance ...with assistance from Ogilvy PR's Washington Office." The announcement put the chain's name in headlines (a "major victory," declared the New York Times) alongside the city's Board of Health, which was convening a highly publicized hearing to build support for a ban on transfats, which have been linked to even higher heart disease risk than saturated fats. KFC's senior director of PR declared that the New York announcement was a chance to "strategically place our brand within the news." The restaurant chain, owned by YUM! Brands, might also have been exploiting a weakness in its competitors. McDonald's announced in 2002 that it was eliminating transfats, but that pledge soon melted like margarine on a hot pan. Among major U.S. fast food chains, Wendy's claims that it has eliminated transfats (though it continues to sell 770 calorie monster burgers, such as the "half-pound bacon cheddar double melt.")


I heard on the news they are using a genetically altered
product in place of transfat! How do we know that is any better? It was the health zealots who called for the switch from saturated fat to trans fat in the first place. I remember the evils of butter and the virtures of margarine. (Funny how this fact gets forgotten.) These petty fears we have over food keep us from looking at the big picture. Speaking of which, let's say it does reduce heart disease. Are the food reformers also going to fix social security? All the pension funds in jeopardy? Ease consumer debt so people can start saving for retirement? Bring back high wage jobs? Or are they going to continue to nag for more spartan food restrictions so we can all live as long and as impoverished as possible?