One of the most famous trade secrets comes from loveable, white-suited Colonel Harland Sanders, who created a recipe for a tasty chicken coating about 70 years ago that contained 11 herbs and spices. That same recipe is still used today at his popular chain restaurant, KFC (aka Kentucky Fried Chicken). Initially, as he drove to visit potential franchise owners, Sanders kept the secret recipe in his head -- and the spices in his car -- although he eventually wrote it all down. His original, handwritten copy is hidden in a safe in Kentucky, and only a few select employees, bound by a confidentiality contract, know what the recipe is. For further protection, two separate companies each blend a portion of the mixture, which is then run through a computer processing system to standardize its blending [source: KFC.com].
Rumor has it the employees-in-the-know can't ever travel together by plane or auto to further safeguard the secret, and that once, when KFC modernized its security systems, the recipe was temporarily moved to another secret, secure location via an armored car, which was further guarded by a high-security motorcade [source: DailyFinance].
"I'm willing to bet if someone released the recipe to the KFC chicken, people would say, 'Oh, well, that's not much different from my grandmother's,'" says Cabrini College Assistant Professor of Business Scott Testa. "And that's pretty funny." What's not in dispute is that this trade secret is quite valuable to KFC.