Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions, thanking 3294z - the mechanics of oz for giving us the best suggestions. Our team is currently deciding on the following:
Kernel Sanders X
We’ll let you know how it all goes.
If you ask them, they will have to tell you “no.” Even if they don’t really care (and they probably don’t.) If you just do it, you’ll be fine.
In order to maintain trademarks and service marks, a company must defend them. That’s why they would tell you no. If you ask. If you use the Colonel, and Yum Brands (the holder of the Colonel mark; they’re just a couple miles from the Kentucky Expo Center) is made aware of your use of it in a way that they can’t ignore, they have to tell you to stop using it.
If you use it but don’t start a chain of chicken restaurants, and don’t ask them, they don’t have to tell you “no.”
*Though the reasons for a large company to send “cease and desist” letters to small local businesses is less strong that in used to be, after the “Victor’s Little Secret” case made its way to the Supreme court. And Victor (a local merchant of lingerie) won against Victoria’s Secret. Interesting case.