Those annoying Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials that feature actors portraying the fast food chain's founder, Colonel Sanders, just hired Rob Lowe to take on the role.

Best known for his parts St. Elmo's Fire, The West Wing, and Parks and Recreation, Lowe was brought on in time for the launch of the Yum! Brands (YUM) owned chain's Zinger spicy chicken sandwich.

"My grandfather was the head of the Ohio chapter of the National Restaurant Association in the 1960s and took me to meet Colonel Harland Sanders when I was a kid," Lowe said in a statement, according to Fortune. "It was a big deal. I thought this would be a nice homage to both Colonel Sanders and to my grandfather."

But, even without Lowe KFC is still likely to crush it in terms of sales.

"The reality is that our operations have never been stronger, our taste scores and overall satisfaction scores are at the highest levels they have been in a long, long time," KFC U.S. president and Chief Concept Officer Kevin Hochman told TheStreet in an interview. Hochman explained KFC has spent 100,000 hours re-training store cooks and other employees in the "Colonel's values", such as how to better use the pressure fryer to make juicier chicken.

Says Hochman, "A lot of people think they can get the secret recipe and they can make KFC, but that is not true."

Whatever the case, the combination of KFC's re-training efforts and new food launches such as the spicy Zinger sandwich and sweet/tangy George Gold are paying off.

KFC's fourth quarter same-store sales in the U.S. rose 4%, marking the tenth straight quarter of gains. By comparison, McDonald's (MCD) U.S. saw its same-store sales drop 1.3% during the fourth quarter, while Restaurant Brands International's (QSR) Burger King notched a 1.8% increase.

Editors' pick: Originally published April 21.

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