Who will be KFC’s next Colonel Sanders? Here are our bets.
Apparently, Yum Brands is counting on the bomb for its big Super Bowl scores, and it’s letting consumers know to be on the lookout. First the fast-food giant promised that Taco Bell would introduce its “biggest food innovation yet” this coming Sunday. Now, KFC has hinted that it’ll bid adieu to the current Colonel Sanders, Norm MacDonald, and debut a new Colonel during the Super Bowl 50 pregame.
This week, KFC leaked an ad that features MacDonald waving goodbye to the camera. MacDonald is the second comedian to don Colonel Harland Sanders’s white suit and string tie since May. Darrell Hammond, another “Saturday Night Live” alumnus, only played the role for a few months.
But it begs the question: Who will KFC get to fill Sanders’ white shoes? Will the chicken chain step outside the SNL box? Or even stick with a comedian?
For some answers, we turned to a group that’s been known to munch a chicken leg from time to time: the employees of Winsight Media, the parent company of Restaurant Business. We asked them to predict who might step into the Colonel Sanders role, based on the chain’s direction, image and stated goals.
Read on to see who they think might be grabbing the cane. Then share your speculations via our Facebook page.
Take it to the polls
There are plenty of old white guys to tap, if KFC wants to go that political route. While Director of Digital Content Peter Romeo guessed Bernie Sanders would take the helm pending some election results (picture this: Larry David as Bernie Sanders as the Colonel), Editor of Special Projects Mary Chapman thought it might be Rand Paul, “a Kentucky son who suddenly has a lot of extra time on his hands.”
Greg Lindenberg, online editor for RB’s sister publication serving the c-store market, CSP, went with other politicos: Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. Technomic President Darren Tristano also put (at least some of) his money on Trump for the KFC pitchman win. Think The Donald would switch his hair to don a white comb-over instead? As a hedge, Tristano also cited the possibility of Jack Black.
The one that kept popping up
“Will Ferrell would make a great Colonel Sanders, but that may be too obvious,” says Technomic’s concept editor, Lauren Hallow. So obvious, in fact, that RB’s editor and senior editor, Kelly Killian and Sara Wirth, respectively, had the same thought, as did Technomic’s Tristano.
Hallow’s other suggestion (guessed with a wishful sigh): Justin Timberlake.
A model colonel
RB’s digital editor, Kelsey Nash, is bending gender stereotypes with her prediction, Chrissy Teigen. “You have to admit, a model playing Colonel Sanders would offer a great comedic edge,” she says. Teigen’s already proven she can garner a few laughs, thanks to her hosting gig on Lip Sync Battle.
Plus, as Nash points out, she’s got the time. “Seeing that the daytime talk show Teigen co-hosted was recently canceled, she may be looking to pick up some part-time work.”
One RB editor, Alaina Lancaster, was absolutely definitive with her answer. “Guy Fieri, hands down.” After all, as she points out, “KFC’s new design emphasizes how the Colonel was the original celebrity chef. I’m thinking we are due for some spiky white hair to complement the white suit.” And hey, he’d just have to flip around those glasses he wears on the back of his head. Talk about modernizing the old-man look.
Who says the Colonel must be a man? Senior editor Pat Cobe can picture Amy Schumer whipping out an authentic Southern accent while scarfing down KFC’s new Nashville hot chicken with a bloody Mary as a hangover cure. Lindsay Holley, digital production manager, agrees: “She’s smart, funny and has such a great sense of humor when it comes to her body image. It’d be comedy gold!”
But does the American public have to be limited to just one colonel? “I’m always down for an Amy Poehler-Tina Fey duo,” Holley says.
Matching the menu
Steve Holtz, online news director and beverage editor for CSP, thinks Geoffrey Holder would’ve been the go-to guy, had he not passed away in 2014. “The former pitchman has experience having promoted 7Up back in the 1980s. And the Trinidadian actor would be the perfect foil for KFC to finally introduce a new Jerk chicken.”
In his place, look to Paula Deen, he says. “She’s got the Southern pedigree, the white hair, and she knows a little something about frying food.”
And if she’s too busy, how about another pitchman instead? RB editor Kelly Killian proffered that the next Colonel might be “the ShamWow guy—the ultimate pitchman.”
Think KFC would go for a non-person? If so, the Winsight staff had a few more ideas—such as Foghorn Leghorn, projected Dana Moran, deputy editor for RB’s sister publication FoodService Director. “He’s always down for some misdirection.” Speaking of animals, RB’s editor, Kelly Killian, added American Pharaoh—the winner of the Kentucky Derby—to the list. “And before you ask, ‘A horse—really?’ remember fellow chicken chain Chick-fil-A uses cows as its pitchmen. #farmlife.”
Killian’s other conjecture: a hologram of the original Colonel Harland Sanders.
And, hey, why not go for a little Yum Brands collaboration? Another guess from CSP’s online editor, Greg Lindenberg: the Taco Bell Quesalupa.
A list too topical to break up
Kim Rasmussen, RB’s web producer, has four ideas on who would make the best KFC pitchman in today’s day and age:
- Peyton Manning, because we already know he loves chicken (parm, you taste so good).
- The rolling-around-in-the-blizzard panda, BeBe, because we know Yum Brands needs help in China.
- Ryan Reynolds, because he’s so hot right now.
- Kim Kardashian, because Rasmussen was watching KUWTK at the gym and heard Kardashian say that she ate fried chicken before doing a photo shoot.
Let us know who you think might fill the shoes of Colonel Harland Sanders. Go to our Facebook page and weigh in.