I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Bremerton, Washington (Wheaton Way store), for four years. The amount of chicken to order was always a tough call for managers because if they ran out they could get in big trouble, so when they did their regular orders they’d over-order as a safeguard (orders were maybe every three weeks or so). Chicken would arrive mostly frozen and need time to thaw in troughs in the walk-in refrigerator. The problem with this over-ordering is that chicken gets bad from being thawed too long. It gets green, goes hard, and becomes absolutely rancid smelling. Very rarely was raw chicken thrown out because “waste” was always the biggest issue and managers were fired for it when it became too high. I only remember throwing raw chicken out when the managers were caught by the district managers during a surprise visit or when the managers anticipated a visit and threw it out before the district manager arrived. Cooking expired chicken was a matter of fact since expiration dates were never checked except to make sure cases were being properly rotated, so I’d often cook this green chicken. When I prepared the green chicken I had to use my shoulder to press down on my nose to snuff out the smell as I breaded and prepared it. I remember when I left KFC, I estimated I cooked about 10,000 chickens.
I used to joke back in the day that every day at Kentucky Fried Chicken is Saint Patrick’s Day. This is obviously an exaggeration, but there was certainly enough green chicken cooking going on that this joke always got a chuckle out of folks for the truth in it, because everyone understood when chicken went real bad you couldn’t go into the walk-in refrigerator without covering your nose because the smell was so terrible.
—Joe H., Seattle, Washington
KFC was my first-ever job; while looking for a way to pay for college, I landed there the day after my high school graduation. I worked there for two and a half years.
On a few occasions, I saw cooks and managers laughing and pelting each other in the chest, stomach, back (you name it) with breaded pieces of chicken. Sometimes these pieces of chicken would hit the floor. They would be retrieved, fried, and served.
One time, while boxing chicken, I dropped a piece on the floor. I sort of kicked it out of the way, toward the trash can, with my foot and continued to box the order. My manager came around the corner just as this happened. He got very near me, and looked from the piece of chicken on the floor, to my box, and back at the piece of chicken. I knew that he was quietly insinuating I should serve that piece. I looked at him and said, "yeah, I dropped a piece." He looked at me and said, "I want you to pick that piece of chicken up, put it back in the warmer, and serve it." Thinking he was kidding, I laughed and said no. He repeated that I should serve the chicken. Again, I told him no. I would not serve that dirty piece of chicken. It had fallen on the floor and I had kicked it out of the way with my dirty, greasy, bacteria-ridden shoes. I packed the rest of the boxes for the order and pushed them through the window so the girl working at the front counter could serve the customer. He told me that I would serve the piece of chicken or that he would fire me. I said, "fine then," bent over, picked the piece of chicken up and, while looking right at him, threw the piece of chicken in the trash. He stayed after me for some minutes, insisting that I now drag the piece of chicken out of the trash so that it could be served. He threatened my job telling me several times, in his best authoritarian voice, that he was "the manager," I was his subordinate, and that I was to do whatever he said. I didnít give up and it caused tension between us for some weeks. If this happened to me, can you imagine how many other times itís happened?
—Lisa S., Carbondale, IllinoisBack to Home