FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Animals rights advocates are squawking at a measure that would make fried chicken Kentucky's official picnic food.
State Rep. Charles Siler is sponsoring legislation to honor the late Colonel Harland Sanders, the Kentuckian who founded the fried chicken chain that now has 11,000 restaurants in more than 80 countries. The bill singles out KFC's "finger lickin' good" Original Recipe, which Sanders first served in a Corbin restaurant in 1940, for the designation.
The Colonel's fried chicken deserves the title from Kentucky lawmakers, Siler said, because of the worldwide attention and the
economic benefit it has brought to the state. By approving the bill, he said, the legislature would be helping Louisville-based KFC to market the product.
"It's not a tongue in cheek action," said Siler, a Williamsburg Republican. "It has economic considerations both for the state of Kentucky and for the city of Corbin, and I'm sure the company sees value in it as well."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals bristles at the idea. The animal rights group claims that the chickens KFC serves are abused, even tortured.
"If the state legislature moves forward with this one, then they should change Kentucky's state bird from the cardinal to the debeaked, crippled, scalded, diseased, dead chicken," said PETA vice president Bruce Friedrich.
PETA has been involved in a long-standing battle with KFC, and even began a push two years ago to have a bust of the bespectacled
Colonel Sanders removed from the Kentucky Capitol. Sanders, with his white goatee and black string tie, became recognizable worldwide by marketing his fried chicken.
Siler's move to honor Original Recipe comes on the heels of an announcement by Louisville-based KFC that all 5,500 of its U.S. restaurants have stopped frying chicken in artery-clogging trans fats. The company switched to a new soybean oil believed to be less likely to cause heart disease.
KFC spokeswoman Laurie Schalow said the company is glad Kentucky lawmakers are considering Siler's legislation.
"We think this is a great way to honor the Colonel's legacy," Schalow said. "Whether left wing or right wing, we think this is something both sides can agree on."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)