Art Streiber

Hint: She's a country music legend. 

Elisabeth Sherman
January 26, 2018

Hot on the heels of the release of its new Smoky Mountain Barbeque fried chicken, KFC has revealed that it has a recruited a brand new celebrity to play Colonel Sanders. The new colonel represents a couple firsts for the company—the first singer and the first woman to take on the role in the history of KFC—and its none other than country music legend Reba McEntire.

“The pairing of a universally loved music legend like Reba with a universally appealing flavor like Smoky Mountain BBQ makes what I like to call ‘Smoky Mountain Magic,’” Andrea Zahumensky, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

According to McEntire—who is also known as the ‘Queen of Country’—she was actually a fan of KFC growing up, so hopefully the new face of fried chicken will keep bringing her musical chops to her new role.

Head chef at KFC, Bob Das, recently told Food & Wine that he took inspiration from all over the south, including Kansas City and the Carolinas, when creating the recipe for Smoky Mountain Barbeque, which will become available on January 29. McEntire is herself from Oklahoma, which has it’s own storied barbeque traditions and at least one legendary fried chicken spot, making this an especially appropriate pairing.

KFC’s last celebrity colonel was Ray Liotta, an actor probably best known for playing Italian mobsters, who followed Rob Lowe, Jim Gaffigan, George Hamilton and many others, so the fried chicken chain has certainly been known to pick the least expected person to play the part and McEntire is no exception.

Even though Reba's Colonel vehemently denies being a woman, it’s also refreshing to see KFC make a progressive choice and cast a woman as Colonel Sanders, if only because it's hilarious to see her decked out in the costume, complete with a fake mustache and beard.