Still crazy after 57 years: the KFC bucket remains on the menu

kfc bucketEvery once in a while, for reasons I cannot explain or begin to fathom, I find myself craving – against my better judgement, no, against my better nature – something from KFC.

Such an evil craving grabbed me this weekend, somewhere between Geelong and Ocean Grove. Next minute I found myself doing a u-turn at the lights and pulling into the distinctive red and white shop and standing in line.

There was a woman in front of me and it was taking ages for the pimply KFC staff snatched from pre-school to fill her order.

What was taking so long?

Then I saw the ‘super variety bucket‘ coming together with it six pieces of original recipe chicken along with six crispy strips, six nuggets, one maxi popcorn chicken, two large chips, one large drink and three dipping sauces.

variety bucket

And I started thinking. Yes, like every other fast food chain, KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken before they dropped the word “fried” to sound healthier) offers a number of healthy options.

But it’s the only fast food chain I know of that offers its meals by the bucket.

You can super size a McDonald’s meal that might squeeze into a bucket, but at least it doesn’t actually come in one.

And you could squeeze a couple of Dominos  or Pizza Hut pizzas into a bucket too, but they’re traditionalists at heart and still prefer to serve pizza in a recycle friendly cardboard box with those cute tiny plastic tables to stop the cheese sticking to the lid.

So I stood in the queue thinking about the bucket being assembled at the counter and remarked (to myself of course not wanting to offend the large woman in front of me) that I could not believe theys still offer a bucket of fried food at KFC to purchase to anyone with $18 in their pocket.

(Also available by the bucket: 12 pieces of chicken plus sides for $24 and 16 pieces plus sides for $30)

There is, nor will there ever be, anything appealing about food served in a bucket.

A bucket is what you put offal in. A bucket is for the slops. A bucket is what you dip a dirty rag in when you’re cleaning the floor. There’s a sick bucket and a vomit bucket. And in Trainspotting there’s three buckets: one for piss, one for shite and one for puke.

But traditions die hard. Since 1957, KFC has offered customers a bucket of fried chicken and 56 years later, it’ s still on the menu.

It seems incomprehensible to me that any fast food chain – when Australia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world – should be selling food by the bucketload.

Anyway, I ordered a Twister meal and as I ate I saw my future – I’d finish the Twister wrap and chips and mash and gravy and three crispy fried wings and I’d feel in a word “disgusted” with myself.

So in a rare moment of forward thinking, I ate one and a half chicken wings, half the Twister, half the mash and gravy, half my chips and left some of the Pepsi max in the can. Then I tipped the rest into the bin, placed my tray on top and left.

But not before I picked up KFC’s ‘Nutritional Information’ booklet.

Just what did KFC have to say about healthy eating?

I was intrigued. They actually have quite a lot of good things to say about healthy eating including the importance of eating foods from the five major food groups, balancing what you eat with how much you eat and the importance of exercise.

As pertains to their own menu they suggest the potato and gravy instead of chips, water instead of a soft drink and if you do have to have chips, try them without any salt. Plus theirs a big picture of a KFC salad (Yes, they have salad!)

Of course, no one who comes into a KFC is going to try the salad, and why would you have water when the meals all come with a soft drink? Yes, the mash and gravy is delicious, but who eats the chicken without the salty chips?

But the most telling line in the brochure is one under the somewhat sinister heading: “The Choice is Yours”

“With the right choices, KFC’s great tasting food can easily fit into a healthy lifestyle as an….


…occasional treat”.

There it is people, in black and white. If you’re eating KFC on a regular basis (as I just watched Charlize Theron do in one of the most insidious examples of product placement in the otherwise excellent film ‘Young Adult’) you’re doing your body a grave disservice.

The same nutrition guide also tells you that the average adult diet is 8700 kilojoules (kJ) per day.

Just how many are in the bucket I wondered?

This is the breakdown excluding the drink and dipping sauces:

Six pieces of original recipe chicken – 5355 kJ
Six crispy strips -2204 kJ
Six kentucky nuggets – 1270 kJ
One maxi popcorn chicken – 3087 kJ
Two large chips -4336 kJ

Total kilojoules in the KFC variety bucket – 16,252 kJ.

Or nearly the full daily food intake requirements of two Australian adults – in one meal.

Or put it another way,  if you wanted to burn those kilojoules off by exercise, KFC’s nutrition guide is extremely helpful in working this one out)

A 3 km jog burns off around 1500 kJ says KFC.

Burning off the kilojoules in one KFC bucket would require that you run 32.5 kilometres, around 8 kilometres each if four of you shared the bucket.

Of course that will just burn up the excess kilojoules (if you can actually find the energy to go running after such a meal) but what it won’t get rid are the mountains of salt you’re putting into your body.

I won’t repeat the calculation in the same detail, but consider that the recommended adult daily intake of salt is one-to-grams a day with a maximum of six (according to an article by Sydney Morning Herald health reporter Louise  Hall in 2009).

A KFC variety bucket contains around 7 grams of salt.

In that same article, Lousie Hall, writes: “There is a strong link between salt, high blood pressure and coronary vascular disease, including heart failure, kidney failure and stroke. Children who eat a high sodium diet are at risk of developing obesity, asthma and high blood pressure.”

And as you consume all these figures (perhaps with your bucket of delicious, salty KFC chicken plus all the accoutrements it comes with) consider this final thought.

In 2011, during the Sydney Ashes test match between Australia and England, KFC “magnanimously” donated $1 from every pink bucket of deep-fried chicken to the breast cancer charity, the McGrath Foundation.

(One more piece of KFC bucket trivia: In 1957, the KFC bucket offered what it considered the “complete” family meal of 14 pieces of chicken, five bread rolls and a pint of gravy for $3.50).


6 thoughts on “Still crazy after 57 years: the KFC bucket remains on the menu

  1. I have to say that I miss the KFC Bucket, and here is why:
    I went to an ‘American’ themed party on the weekend dressed as Colonel Sanders.

    To complete the costume, I walked into a KFC near Bondi and, after signing some autographs as the Colonel, demanded a KFC Bucket from the girl at the counter.
    They told me they had none.
    Instead, they gave me one of those rectangular boxes, currently plastered with Australian cricketers (it didn’t even look like a KFC box).
    I twizzled my moustache and leaned over the counter and said “I say, ma’am, forgive my rudeness but this just will not do.”

    It was the one and only time when I actually wanted a KFC Bucket and they didn’t have any. As for the chicken. I will stay clear of it, and anything else in a bucket for that matter.


  2. After breaking my healthy eating plan and completely loosing it and eating a heap of a KFC Variety bucket last night i woke up this morning feeling tired lethargic and swollen from fluid retention …. after reading your post ii had a light bulb moment and realised the salt is why im so puffy and holding fluid … didnt even consider that before… Cheers Alicia


    1. Hi Alicia,
      Thanks for the comment. Many have returned to the KFC bucket and lived to regret it, including me. Yeah there food is incredibly bad for you, they even admit so. But every now and then you get that craving. Resist! all the best, Larry


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