Restaurateurs Tommy and Cherry Settle, who bought the home in the 1970s, found the leather-bound 1964 datebook 16 months ago. They said it contained a recipe listing 11 herbs and spices in specific proportions.
Tommy Settle wanted to authenticate the recipe in hopes of selling the book to a collector, and contacted KFC, said the Settles' attorney, Glenn Cohen.
KFC responded last week with a lawsuit to keep the contents of the book private until the recipe could be checked. It dropped the lawsuit Monday after concluding the recipe wasn't even close to the Colonel's original recipe of 11 herbs and spices, said Amy Sherwood, a spokeswoman for KFC parent Tricon Global Restaurants Inc.
"The Colonel's secret original recipe is safe and sound, locked in our vault," she said.
The datebook, locked up under a judge's order, was to be returned to the Settles.
Sanders came up with his famous fried chicken recipe in the late 1930s for Sanders Court and Cafe, his roadside eatery in Corbin, Ky. Sanders died in 1980. According to KFC, which has over 10,300 branches all over the world, only a few people know the recipe, and they have signed strict confidentiality agreements.
The cloak-and-dagger attitude about the chicken recipe is so serious, KFC has one company blend just part of the mix, with another company handling the rest, with neither ever being given the complete recipe.
The Settles bought the white mansion in Shelbyville from Sanders and his wife, Claudia, and they operate the Claudia Sanders Dinner House next door. The restaurant specializes in Southern-style cooking, but the Settles haven't used the old recipe.
"We're happy with our recipe," Tommy Settle said.
The Settles haven't decided what to do with the datebook. As word of the handwritten recipe's existence spread, they were contacted by people around the world interested in purchasing it.
"It is a historic artifact, a collector's item, a piece of Americana," Cohen said. "It certainly has value, as memorabilia."
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