Who Is Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Nashville Hot Colonel? How Long Can KFC Continue Its Stuntcasting Gimmick?

Here we go again. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has added yet another fake Colonel Sanders to its long line chicken cooking imposters. Responding to consumer demand that KFC bring back its “limited time only” menu item, Nashville Hot Chicken, the chicken giant has begun a promotion today featuring the fictional teen heartthrob, the “Nashville Hot Colonel.”

But who is worthy to fulfill such big white dress shoes? Why it’s Vincent Kartheiser, who is more recognizable for playing Pete on AMC’s Mad Men, reports Yahoo Finance.

“Like KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken, I’m a bit of a rebel decked out in authentic Nashville flavor—a perfect combination of classic and cool,” said Kartheiser.

Kartheiser is the latest actor to portray the colonel. Rob Riggle has played the “owner, head coach and marketing director” for the Kentucky Buckets fictional football team. Before that, George Hamilton played the “Extra Crispy Colonel” during the summer. Other actors playing the colonel have included Jim Gaffigan, Norm Macdonald, and Darrell Hammond, all claiming to be the “real Colonel Sanders.”

It is not clear is KFC will be using a mix of both Riggle’s character and the Nashville Hot Colonel since we are still at the front end of the football season, but one thing in clear: demand for the restaurant to bring back the Nashville Hot Chicken was very high. KFC first offered the treat in January, and it was an instant hit. Google searches for the term “Nashville Hot” increased 700 percent, and when KFC stopping offering the product in April, fans made their requests online including one from Matt Scary.

“Matt Scary tweeted at us that if we brought Nashville Hot Back on October 10th, it would be the best birthday gift ever,” said Kevin Hochman, the chief marketing officer for KFC U.S. “So if Matt brings just $5.49 plus tax to a KFC on October 10th, that birthday gift is his. I’m kidding! We’ll send him a gift card!”

It’s not all about the Nashville Hot Colonel, though. To coincide with the new promotion, KFC has also begun its annual Add Hope hunger relief campaign today as well. The Add Hope campaign operates through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger.

Even with all of this goodwill, not everyone is a fan of KFC’s rotating circus of Colonels. In March of this year, Kate Taylor ranted on Business Insider about how much she dislikes the campaign.

“I hate KFC’s newfound obsession with its founder. The company’s Colonel Sanders kick started last May, when KFC launched its first ad featuring Colonel Sanders after a 21-year hiatus. The commercial stars comedian Darrell Hammond, cackling as he wheezes, ‘I’m Colonel Sanders, and I’m back America!’ I hated it. First, I found it eerie for a brand to resurrect its dead founder, who acted as the spokesperson for KFC for many years. Second, I found Hammond’s portrayal of the Colonel grating, with his kitschy, old-school Southern affectations.However, I thought that, like many fast-food marketing pushes, this annoyance would be a limited-time offering. If only I knew then how wrong I was.”


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Taylor isn’t alone with this thinking. On the 30bd website, an unofficial poll is currently running regarding the current slew of KFC commercials. Only 11 percent of responders are in favor of the commercials, and 89 percent of them are negative. Though to date, there have only been 71 opinions posted so far, but they are pretty vocal.

So, how long should KFC keep running the fake Colonel commercials and still be relevant? That’s hard to say. Jack I. Box has been the “spokesclown” for Jack in the Box since 1994.

[Featured Image by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images]