How do chickens with eight legs cross the road? Litigiously.

KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) has said enough to the parade of crazy rumors about their food and have sought legal satisfaction from Chinese companies that promote hoaxes that damage their finger-lickin’ good reputation.

KFC sues Chinese companies for online rumors about its food

Restaurant operator KFC said Monday it filed a lawsuit against three companies in China whose social media accounts spread false claims about its food, including that its chickens have eight legs.

The case filed by China’s biggest restaurant operator comes as the government intensifies a campaign to clean up rumors on social media. Internet marketers have been convicted of trying to manipulate online sentiment on behalf of clients by posting false information about competitors or deleting critical posts.

Let’s be clear, this is not “Big Restaurant” taking it to the little guy, this is a reaction against false claims that are being made deliberately to hurt the business. KFC is demanding 1.5 million yuan ($242,000) and an apology from companies operating on the WeChat app. The case has been accepted in China. I doubt it would be feasible to do this in the U.S.


There are several urban legends that have circulated about the food chain and their products. You can check out Snopes for about 9 that have directly used the KFC brand by name. In fact, one of the very first urban legends I recall looking up on Snopes related to the ridiculous (and quite obviously false) claim that they used mutant chickens with no beaks or feet!

Business Insider takes a stab at debunking the rumors that prompted the legal action in China. The same silly stories gain attention through sites like Daily Buzz Live. (Remember that Argumentum ad populum is a fallacy: just because it’s a common “belief” does not make it true.) While the efforts to police claims on the Chinese networks seem to have been aimed at political rumor mongering, KFC has more than 4,600 restaurants in China, a critical market, and are using this opportunity to fight back against the damaging stories and stop a slide in revenue. The Wall Street Journal reported trouble started with a media report in November 2012 alleging that a KFC supplier had been using growth hormones and antibiotics on their chickens which sparked concern for food safety.

MMMmmm, chicken.

MMMmmm, chicken.

  13 comments for “How do chickens with eight legs cross the road? Litigiously.

  1. ScienceMonkey
    June 1, 2015 at 8:15 PM

    Chickienobs are finally here!

  2. Rook
    June 1, 2015 at 9:20 PM

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if KFC actually were breeding eight-legged, six-winged chickens? Well, not so funny for the poor chickens, I suppose…

  3. June 1, 2015 at 9:48 PM

    Umm… that’s not possible. So…

  4. David H
    June 1, 2015 at 10:58 PM

    I suppose they could find some sort of extra-drumstick critter.
    Maybe some of those legendary Buick-sized Camel Spiders.
    However, I don’t think the name change to KFA (Kentucky Fried Arachnid) would help sales.

  5. busterggi (Bob Jase)
    June 2, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    Actually they’ve added some chicken hox genes to octopi which then grow wings/legs instead of tentacles. These regrow when harvested so so killing is needed.

  6. One Eyed Jack
    June 2, 2015 at 9:51 AM

    Is it really possible to smear the KFC brand? Isn’t a situation where your product is so awful that there’s no way to go but up?

    Perhaps, during Colonel Sander’s early years, they served a tasty, quality product, but the stuff they serve today is little more than flavorless laxative.

  7. Ben Radford
    June 2, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    Good piece! I’d forgotten about the rumors about beakless chickens, it’s so weird and stupid and gross… Here’s a piece I wrote on the topic of branding and rumors:

  8. June 2, 2015 at 5:24 PM

    I’ll have to disagree there. I still love it. Don’t eat it very much but would not say it’s bad.

  9. June 2, 2015 at 5:55 PM

    Thanks for sticking up for KFC. I rarely go there myself but it seems pointlessly rude to simply say their product is awful. Everybody thinks some food or brand is awful, but there are those who love Arby’s, Jack in the Box, Spam, fried bologna and kapsa.

  10. Ryan
    June 2, 2015 at 9:08 PM

    I’d pay good money for a spam add on option at arby’s

  11. Russian Skeptic
    June 4, 2015 at 1:30 AM

    I remember the early 1990s when imported chicken drumsticks from USA appeared in Russian shops. We called them ‘the Bush drumsticks’. Many elderly or poor people were happy because they finally could afford eating meat. (For some reason, there was a shortage of poultry in USSR, and chicken had been considered a speciality until 1990s; we only ate chicken on festive occasions). But soon rumours appeared. People began to say that chicken legs were unhealthy, that Americans ate chicken breasts as the better meat and sent us the worse part, i.e. the legs, and even that Americans were deliberately poisoning us by sending us junk food.
    So, chicken rumours are ubiquitous.

  12. Russian Skeptic
    June 4, 2015 at 1:40 AM

    I really loved spam in 1980s. I believed it was a delicacy (especially if compared with Soviet-made sausage).
    And just a decade ago, I was shocked to discover that Brussels sprout had a reputation of being hated by children. I have been a fan of Brussels sprout since pre-school years. There used to be packages of frozen vegetable mix imported from Poland, and mother made soup of it. And when I found two or three buds of Brussels sprouts in my soup, I was delighted. Now I like them fried or microwaved.

  13. June 4, 2015 at 2:37 AM

    I eat KFC quite regularly, and I love it.

    Two things about this amaze me:
    1) People are so credulous that they will accept such obvious nonsense.
    2) Anybody might think it is somehow an advantage to breed an eight-legged chicken. It’s not like having more legs will affect the weight of the portions to be sold. So they’d have to go to an awful lot of trouble (and do the impossible) with nothing to gain.

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