After doing some serious digging on the Internet, an album unlike any other surfaced: Colonel Sanders’ “Tijuana Picnic.” The vinyl mixes Colonel Sanders’ love of fried chicken and Latin jazz. The vinyl album has long been out of print, but if you do some searching you’ll find the album on streaming sites or even Ebay. But be warned, this vinyl is rare.
The business mogul helped spread finger lickin’ good chicken around the world. His album sounds like what you’d find in Quentin Tarantino movies and Baby Driver — but Sanders died before those movies came into the limelight.
“Tijuana Picnic” can be described as similar to Herb Alpert, an American jazz musician playing tunes since the ’50s.
Alpert’s musical accomplishments include five No. 1 albums and 28 albums total on the Billboard Album chart, nine Grammy Awards, fourteen platinum albums, and fifteen gold albums. Alpert has sold 72 million records worldwide. Colonel Sanders’ music album sales are not a noteworthy number.
The vinyl cover features a family eating fried chicken together in their picnic best. The Colonel sits a foot away with a bucket of his famous chicken and a cane.
Based on the back of the sleeve, the Colonel picked out these tunes. The liner notes from the album show an oddly creative side to the Colonel, to the point that it seems he also wanted some author accolades. For the track “Spanish Flea,” once popularized by Herb in the mid-’60s, the Colonel went into a musing rage on his personal connection to the song:
“I understand there used to be a flea circus in Taxco where the fleas had been trained to dance the Varsuviana. At least, the man said they were dancing the Varsuviana. To some, it looked more like the Turkey Trot. Speaking of turkey, the Mexicans serve it with chocolate sauce and call it Mole. But they also like Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
“Tijuana Picnic” was released in 1968. Its genre is listed as jazz, Latin, pop and for easy listening. The album’s tracks include:
“A Taste Of Honey”
“Our Day Will Come”
“Third Man Theme”
The back of the sleeve also includes “Colonel Sanders’ Famous Picnic Menu” and a short description of each song by The Colonel.
Around the same time as “Tijuana,” the Colonel issued a Christmas trilogy series: “Christmas Eve With Colonel Sanders,””Christmas Day With Colonel Sanders,” and “Christmas With Colonel Sanders.” Also in rare existence, “The Ballad of Colonel Sanders,” a 45 rpm single performed by a mysterious character named Bill Hinson which was, judging by the cover, released in 1970.
“Tijuana Picnic” has appeared on Ebay, if curiosity has grabbed you. On the details section, the Record Label (producer) was by Mark 56 Records. The musicians were listed as the “Tastee-freez studio musicians” and most of the songs were cover songs of, or inspired by, Herb Alpert. Mark 56 specialized in creating promotional LP’s for several corporations such as Phillips 66, Trans World Airlines (TWA), Suzuki, Good Humor Ice Cream, and several other companies.
Colonel Sanders was born on Sept. 9, 1890 and died on Dec. 16, 1980. The title “colonel” was honorary — a Kentucky colonel — not the military rank. Sanders had a number of odd jobs while growing up from steam engine stoker, insurance salesman, and filing station operator. He sold fried chicken in North Corbin, Kentucky during the Great Depression. He patented his method of cooking chicken in a pressure fryer. The first KFC opened in Utah in 1952.
In his seventies, he sold the company to investors. He became critical of KFC restaurants in his later years, believing managers were cutting costs and allowing quality to fall to the wayside.
The big takeaway: we now know the best music to listen to when eating fried chicken is Latin jazz.
If you want to read a book with a special cameo from the Colonel, read Haruki Murakami’s Kafka On the Shore.