Food companies go to great lengths to safeguard their coveted recipes—KFC’s and Coca-Cola’s are stored in vaults—no doubt because they’re considered to be any successful brand’s secret weapon. Yet curiously, a recipe isn’t always owned by the restaurant. Such has been the case at fried-chicken chain Popeyes, which announced on Tuesday that it just bought several recipes used in its core menu for $43 million. (The chain won’t specify which recipes.) How did it not own its recipes?
Until now, the recipes have belonged to Diversified Foods and Seasonings, a Louisiana food manufacturer started by Popeyes founder Al Copeland in 1984 after he opened Popeyes. For the last 23 years the chicken chain has paid DFS a $3.1 million “spice royalty” to license the use of its recipes.