Shelbyville, Ky. — The handwritten note that Tommy and Cherry Settle discovered in their basement a year ago could be the answer to one of the country's best kept culinary secrets Col. Harland Sanders' recipe for fried chicken.
The couple bought their Shelbyville home, a white mansion on U.S. 60 West, from Sanders and his wife, Claudia, in the early 1970s.
About a year ago, the two were digging through a box of books from the basement and found a leather-bound datebook from 1964, Cherry Settle said.
Among appointments and other notes was a recipe for fried chicken that called for 11 herbs and spices, she said.
It's the same number that makes up the recipe for one of the temples of fast-food culture KFC's "Original Recipe" fried chicken.
The Settles were considering selling the planner through an auction house, but first they contacted KFC to see whether the company could verify that the recipe was authentic, Settle said.
"They didn't say anything at the time. They just sent this court document to us," she said.
Last week, KFC filed a sealed lawsuit in Shelby County Circuit Court asking that the piece of paper found by the Settles be given to the company.
Amy Sherwood, a spokeswoman for KFC's parent company, referred on Saturday to a prior statement: "While we think it improbable that any individual has the secret recipe to our famous fried chicken, we took Mr. Settle's threat seriously."
Sherwood said she was referring to the company's allegation that the Settles approached KFC looking for payment for the datebook. Cherry Settle denied that charge.