It’s the 1970’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken has yet another new owner: Heublein, the company known for introducing Americans to Smirnoff’s vodka. But KFC brand ambassador Harland Sanders creates a PR fiasco by accusing his new corporate bosses of letting standards slide and ruining the company. As the recession and Sanders wrath hammer revenues, the chain radically changes course, and commits to a “Re-colonelization,” reinstating many of Sanders’ original recipes, and reinvesting in its disenchanted franchisees. Kentucky Fried Chicken surges just as Chick-fil-A makes a series of fatal errors; they lose millions in a marketing misstep, and take on debt to expand rapidly in shopping centers. As the recession deepens, and consumers as well as developers shun malls, Chick-fil-A faces financial ruin. Meanwhile, Popeyes has his own debt-fueled misadventures. Owner Al Copeland leans hard into the 1980s junk bond market and attempts to catch up with KFC by leveraging a hostile takeover of Church’s Fried Chicken, with fatal results.
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