Brow Beat

What Colonel Sanders Looks for in a Lover, and Other Things We Learned About KFC’s New Dating Simulator

An anime-style illustration of a lithe, handsome Colonel Sanders chops an enormous chicken tender with a sword.
Hot Colonel Sanders. KFC/Psyop

Kentucky Fried Chicken released a trailer on Tuesday, not to promote a new menu item but to spread the word about the company’s upcoming cooking-and-dating game entitled I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator. The hyperkinetic and improbably real game, in which players woo KFC’s mascot, is part of the company’s now yearslong marketing effort to decouple “Colonel Sanders”from the actual Col. Harland David Sanders, a onetime insurance salesman and “Kentucky Colonel” who founded the fast food chain in 1952.

Beyond casting a rolling list of actors and comedians to portray the Colonel in its commercials, KFC has produced a romance novel featuring his likeness for Mother’s Day, a somehow equally horny Colonel Sanders pillow, and a Marshmello-style DJ performance experience at this year’s Ultra Music Festival in Miami. The image overhaul has sort of been like a dystopian, accelerated version of the myth-making around another American icon, George Washington, undertaken by his biographer Mason Locke Weems in the early 1800s, except that this one involves learning to cook from a dog.

In any event, the game from KFC and Psyop—which looks like something the fictional Mirando Corporation from Okja might put out, and is maybe similarly destined to be hacked and co-opted by radical animal rights activists—will be available on Steam on Sept. 24.

Below, KFC’s U.S. chief marketing officer Andrea Zahumensky answers our burning, oil-seared questions about I Love You, Colonel Sanders!, which she says was initially conceived of by creative ad agency Wieden + Kennedy as a way “to bring the real-life entrepreneurial journey of Colonel Sanders to life in a creative and interactive way.” This interview has been edited and condensed.

How closely does this game hew to the real-life story of Colonel Sanders?

While the Colonel never went to culinary school, the team drew inspiration from his interesting life and entrepreneurial journey that eventually led him to creating the secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices that made Kentucky Fried Chicken world-famous.

Did KFC approve the design of this hot version of Colonel Sanders?

Throughout this campaign we have embraced the personality of the real Colonel Sanders, who was an over-the-top, feisty chicken salesman who was known for always finding a way to sell more Kentucky Fried Chicken. Since reintroducing the Colonel to our advertising in 2015, we’ve had a lot of fun exploring new ways to reimagine the Colonel for modern times and in ways that are relevant in pop culture today.

What is Colonel Sanders looking for in a romantic partner?

Colonel Sanders is looking for a hard-working and purpose-driven partner to share in his journey to launch his fried chicken empire.

Will the game teach me how to make a Famous Bowl?

Everyone’s experience will differ in I Love You Colonel Sanders as it’s a choose-your-own-adventure-style dating simulator game, but ILYCS will feature KFC’s newest menu item, Mac & Cheese Bowls, a cheesy twist on KFC’s popular Famous Bowls. Mac & Cheese Bowls combine KFC’s rich and creamy mac and cheese, topped with crispy popcorn chicken, and sprinkled with a three-cheese blend.

A cartoon dog, dressed as a chef, holds a spatula in his mouth while standing on a pedestal in a classroom. The caption reads: "Professor Dog steps in to settle the class down and set some ground rules."
Professor Dog KFC/Psyop

What is Professor Dog’s backstory? At what university is he employed?

Professor Dog is an instructor at the highly prestigious and highly fictional University of Cooking School: Academy for Learning. His younger years were spent as a stray in back alleys eating scraps from fancy restaurants. He was later rescued and began his journey to culinary excellence … or maybe he is just cute and good at cooking. There’s no way of knowing.

What did the developers learn from games like Doki Doki Literature Club and Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, if anything?

Our game developers at Psyop are big fans of the genre and have watched a lot of anime and played many dating sims. Ultimately, we all just wanted to make the Colonel proud.