By Melissa Chan
August 25, 2016

One of America’s most closely guarded culinary secrets might not be such a secret anymore.

The long-hidden recipe behind KFC’s world-famous chicken spice blend may have been accidentally revealed to a Chicago news reporter by Colonel Sanders’ nephew.

The Chicago Tribune said Joe Ledington, 67, of Kentucky showed one of its reporters a handwritten recipe that revealed the 11 ingredients, and measurements, used to make the company’s popular spice blend. “That is the original 11 herbs and spices that were supposed to be so secretive,” Ledington told the Tribune.

The recipe was part of a scrapbook that belonged to Ledington’s late aunt, who was Sanders’ second wife. It called for a mix of thyme, basic, paprika — and most importantly, according to Ledington, white pepper. “I call that the secret ingredient. Nobody (in the 1950s) knew what white pepper was. Nobody knew how to use it,” he said.

Ledington later backtracked his statement, telling the Tribune he never showed the recipe to a reporter.

KFC told the New York Times that the recipe was not the real deal. “Many people have made these claims over the years and no one has been accurate — this one isn’t either,” KFC said in a statement.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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