One rumor says the reason Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC, was because the chicken outlet bred mutant birds with extra-large breasts and additional legs. Until the U.S. Food and Drug Agency said the genetically engineered birds could not legally be sold as chicken, but the company sidestepped the problem simply by changing its name to KFC, thus cutting the word chicken from its name.
Yet another rumor says the name change was because health-conscious customers associated the word “fried” with “unhealthy” and “high cholesterol,” causing them to shun Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. These reasons sounded good, but the ‘real’ reason behind the shift to KFC had nothing to do with healthy food, or government agencies. It was all about money. Money that Kentucky Fried Chicken would have had to pay to use its original name. Why? In 1990, the state of Kentucky was deeply in debt, so it trademarked its name. Now, any time that the word Kentucky is used for business reasons, the business has to get permission and pay fees to Kentucky.
A part of North American culture since its first store opened in 1952, Kentucky Fried Chicken refused to pay royalties on a name it had already used for over four decades. After a year of fruitless negotiations, and refusing to submit to “such a terrible injustice”, it changed its name. New packaging and products hid the real reason for the name change to KFC. But, KFC was not the only one targeted. The Kentucky Derby had to change its name to The Run for the Roses, seed and plant nurseries had to refer to Kentucky Bluegrass as Shenandoah Bluegrass, and singer/composer Neil Diamond pulled his Kentucky Woman from radio playlists.