In its letter, mailed early in February, KFC said the 99-cent sandwich "could make it easier and more affordable for Catholics to observe the tenets of their faith." Observant Catholics do not eat meat on Fridays during the Lenten season, which began last Wednesday and lasts until Easter Sunday.
"We beseech you to grant your seal of approval for this innovative menu item, as your blessing on this endeavor would do much to promote this sandwich as a way for members of your flock to keep a holy Lenten season, while still leading their busy, modern lifestyles," KFC wrote to the Vicar of Christ.
A spiritual shout-out would probably feel pretty good to KFC right now. Shortly after it released its Vatican strategy, the company was hit by a nightmare straight out of "Willard," when rats took over a New York City Taco Bell/KFC restaurant. (Both Taco Bell and KFC are owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands.)
The city closed the restaurant, and the company said it was an isolated incident, but New York is still buzzing about how a clearly infested restaurant could have been given a passing grade by the health department just the day before. (And of course, Taco Bell is still reeling from its E. coli outbreak last year.)
As for the blessing, there's no word yet on whether His Holiness will actually take time out from his normal duties of praying for peace and so forth to bless KFC's new sandwich. But the marketing tactic drew a few disapproving clucks from marketing expert Phil Lempert, who writes the Supermarket Guru newsletter. "I doubt if Colonel Sanders would have approved," he wrote.