New recipes

We Tried KFC’s New Smoky Mountain BBQ Fried Chicken


The new item will be available nationwide January 29

KFC is rolling out a brand new menu item: Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken. The sweet and smoky snack blends recipes from Memphis and the Carolinas, joining two other Southern-inspired flavors: spicy Nashville Fried Hot Chicken and tangy Georgia Gold honey mustard barbecue.

“KFC’s take on the Southern mainstay boasts a touch of vinegar to please North Carolinians, a little bit of sweetness for the Kansas City-style faithful and a crispiness that even Memphis dry rub fans will appreciate,” the fast-food giant said in a release.

Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken will be available nationwide at the end of this month, but thanks to our friends over at KFC and the chain’s head chef Bob Das, we Daily Meal staffers were able to get our hands on the new style early.

And to our surprise — it didn’t taste much like fast food at all. Although the chicken wasn’t as robust as a traditional barbecue sauce, KFC’s take on the flavor is a definite palate pleaser.

“The oil-based sauce helped them stay crisp,” one editor opined, noting that sauced poultry normally grows soggy over time. “The sauce had an interesting texture, slightly gritty from the spices but not unpleasant.”


“I was pleasantly surprised by how subtle the flavors were. It did not taste like fast food,” another editor said. “I had planned to take one bite and I ate all three chicken tenders.”

All-in-all, we thought the sauce’s flavor was outstanding. The only issue someone might have with this item is its grittiness.

“I really, really liked the flavor of the chicken strips. It was really similar to a mesquite barbecue potato chip but on a chicken finger, which is a truly amazing combination,” an editor reviewed. “I did find the grainy texture to be a little off-putting. I don't love feeling the ‘raw’ spices in my sauce.”

Finger-lickin’ fans can try Smoky Mountain BBQ starting January 29. For more on Colonel Sanders’ empire, check out these 15 things you didn’t know about Kentucky Fried Chicken.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.


Country singer Reba McEntire is KFC's newest Col. Sanders

Reba McEntire is the first woman ever to play KFC's new colonel.

Country singer Reba McEntire is the latest celebrity – and first woman -- to play KFC founder Col. Sanders. (Photo: KFC)

The latest celebrity to play KFC's manly Col. Sanders is a woman — and a famous one at that.

Grammy-winning country music star Reba McEntire dons the iconic white suit, black string tie, glasses, white wig and, yes, goatee as part of ad campaign for the fast-food chain's new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken.

"I've eaten KFC my whole life. It’s been a favorite. It’s American. It’s wholesome," said the Oklahoma native, who's a fan of the chain's chicken and coleslaw.

The outfit does get a bit of a feminine makeover, though. The two-piece suit includes lots of beading and appears to be tapered to McEntire's waist. She said the transformation via wig and make-up took hours.

McEntire is the 11th person to play the chain's famous founder, Col. Harlan Sanders. Previous portrayers include actors Ray Liotta, Rob Lowe, George Hamilton and Darrell Hammond.

The ad campaign launches Sunday.

The choice of McEntire comes as sexual harassment is at the forefront of gender discussions around the country. Starting with revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, this age-old ill treatment of women has prompted victims to come forward in dozens of industries from food service to media to politics.

McEntire said she took the job, offered last month, because she thought "it was a great thing to do. It’s a spoof, and I’m an actress and that’s how I took it."

KFC also said the state of American womanhood didn't play into the casting decision.

"We picked Reba McEntire because she is a perfect fit for KFC and Smoky Mountain BBQ. She embodies the qualities of the colonel with her showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said. "We love to find people who are really iconic, like Rob Lowe is very iconic. Also, someone who really represents our product. She is definitely sweet. She has that Southern charm."

Women, of course, have been cast in male roles for years. Other examples range from Mary Martin and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in the eponymous musical, Meryl Streep as a rabbi in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn the film I'm Not There.

Using someone who doesn't look exactly like the chain's deceased founder will work to KFC's advantage, according to Bob Killian, a Chicago-based branding expert.

"It’s a meta campaign. It’s about the food or the item or the offer. It’s about 'We’re not taking advertising seriously. You should like us,' " he said. "They’re making the point that we’re in on the joke. This isn't who the colonel used to be."

McEntire marks the fourth talent change in 10 months, as KFC uses new actors for new promotions. Her campaign will run until April.