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The Unusual Story of Colonel Harland Sanders, the Iconic Figure of KFC

Misbah is a food lover and enjoys researching the history of different foods and restaurants worldwide.

The most recognizable icon in fast food history

Colonel Sanders is no doubt the most recognizable icon in the history of fast food. His face - now a synonym for fried chicken in America and around the world - is an integral part of the KFC brand. It's hard to imagine the company without its treasured and famous mascot. But even though his face is everywhere, most people do not know much about the man himself. Here is a brief history of the famous Colonel Harland Sanders.

Harland David Sanders, born September 9, 1890, in Henryville, Indiana, better known as Colonel Sanders, was the American businessman who founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast-food restaurant chain. Sanders was the eldest of three siblings in a modest family of Irish origin.

His father passed away when Sanders was 5. Thus, he worked and learned to cook from his childhood. He left school at the age of twelve to help out on the family farm and soon after being abused by his stepfather moved to his uncle and aunt in New Albany.

Colonel Sanders was a reputable lawyer but his legal career ended when he banged with his clients in a courtroom

At the age of 15, he forged his birth certificate to enlist in the American army and completed his military service in Cuba. He then moved to Sheffield, Alabama, where he held a variety of positions, including merchant navy, insurance salesman, railway fireman, and farmer.

Colonel Sanders was married twice. In 1908 he married Josephine King and had three children with her: Margaret (1910-2001), Harland David Sanders, Jr. (1912-1932), and Mildred (1919‑2010). The couple divorced in 1947. A year later, Sanders married a restaurant worker, Claudia Price, with whom he remained until the end of his life.

There are many rumors circulating about the personal and professional history of Colonel Sanders. This is mainly due to the fact that the man has become a true legend and that his career is quite honorable.

From the most amazing stories to the most eccentric decisions, it has become difficult to know the true story of the famous colonel. He may be more of a character than a real person; but there is one thing all these stories have in common: he was an extraordinarily exceptional person, a model of perseverance and courage.

Colonel Sanders chills on the bench.

Colonel Sanders chills on the bench.

Colonel Sanders and KFC

In 1929, Harland Sanders opened a little gas station in Corbin, Kentucky., where he prepared dishes such as chicken, ham and steak. His popularity as a leader increased so much that the governor of Kentucky, Ruby Laffoon, appointed him “Colonel of Kentucky” in 1935, the most prestigious honorary title in the state.

A year later, he built a restaurant with a dining area for 142 guests. Presently, this place is called Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum, and is a museum about the history of KFC.

There, he began to prepare his famous fried chicken of his own recipe, with eleven herbs and spices, which he patented in 1940. At first he used a frying pan, but he introduced the use of frying pan. A pressure fryer for speedy service. His fame was triggered in 1939 because of food critic Duncan Hines, who included him in his restaurant guide.

During this time, the demand for Sanders-style fried chicken increased, and he took advantage of his success to open a motel, which was the first in Kentucky. Unfortunately, the Second World War imposed a temporary closure of the station because of a cessation of fuel rationing.

In the early 1950s, he decided to sell the motel for just under $ 75,000 because the construction of Interstate 75 had reduced traffic on the road where his store was located. At the age of 60, he took advantage of the fame of his fried chicken to expand his business through franchises, under the name of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The first KFC restaurant opened in 1952 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and other restaurants quickly opened nationwide. In franchise agreements, revenues were paid in exchange for a payment of five cents per piece shipped.

IN 2011, A KFC employee discovered a typical 200-page manuscript written by Colonel Sanders consisting of recipes, anecdotes and life lessons.

Colonel Sanders ended up selling Kentucky Fried Chicken

To sell his brand, Colonel Sanders held personal demonstrations all over the United States, and developed a distinctive look with a gray mustache, goatee beard, and an all-white suit with a black tie.

In 1964, Colonel Sanders ended up selling Kentucky Fried Chicken to a group of state investors for $2 million, plus a lifetime salary of $40,000 a year to be touted as a brand ambassador. The stated salary has increased to around $200,000 per year.

In those days, the company had 600 franchises across the United States and made a gross annual profit of $300,000. In addition to his most successful company, he opened a family restaurant in Shelbyville in 1968. He named the restaurant, Claudia Sanders Dinner House to pay tribute to his wife.

In 1970, the Colonel left the board of directors of KFC, but continued to be the advertising image of the brand. Harland Sanders finally died on 16 December 1980, suffering from acute leukemia diagnosed six months earlier. He was buried in Colonel Sanders' attire at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

“One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to something better.”

“I’ve only had two rules. Do all you can and do it the best you can.”

"The hard way builds solidly a foundation of confidence that cannot be swept away.”

“I feed truck drivers, millionaires all at the same table.”

— Colonel Sanders


The history of KFC

Colonel Harland Sanders

Colonel Sanders Biography


Colonel Sanders and the Kentucky Fried Chicken Story

Harland Sanders

© 2021 Misbah Sheikh


Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on August 25, 2021:

The history of the Iconic figure of KFC.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on May 01, 2021:

Aww... those lovely and beautiful words of Praise are highly appreciated, Gyanendra Mocktan. I am glad you enjoyed reading it. It's so great to have you here. Thank you so much to join us. Happy weekend

Blessings and Peace

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on May 01, 2021:

I find an unusual story of a personality who overcame the hurdles of life and proved himself to a man of substance written by Misbah who really can dig out the stories from far and wide and canshare with the readers as if she is showing us a film.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@Amara: Wasalam, I too love to eat KFC. They have an exceptional flavor. Although many Comebacks exist, no one can replace them. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wish you an enjoyable weekend. Much Love!! Blessings always

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@Urwa: Thank you so much for your beautiful words, dear sister. You want me to call you Urwa or Iqra? Both names are pretty. Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, Colonel Sanders' father passed away when he was five. His childhood was not very good. I believe his destiny was good. The way we still remember it.

Blessings and Love

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@MsDora: Your kind words are very much appreciated. As far as I can search, Colonel Sanders made several bad business gambles and had a fiery temperament. Because he rarely walked away from a fight (sometimes physically, such as a courtroom fight), he was often fired from his job. However, his combative spirit may have contributed to the creation of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Happy weekend to you. Much Love

Blessings always!!

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@Linda: What a lovely surprise. It's so great to have you here. Thank you so much to join us. A lot of thanks for your nice words of appreciation. Highly appreciated. I love to eat fried chicken. But I'm sure you have a better choice of food than I do. I love to read your recipes and articles on foods.

You are welcome. Much Love

Blessings and Peace

Amara from Pakistan on April 30, 2021:

I love KFC.. Interesting article about the life of its founder..

Thanks for sharing sis..


Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@Peggy: Thanks a lot for your kind remarks. Yes, Colonel Sanders has a great name, and when I think of KFC, the first picture I can think of is his standing statue. His efforts are very worthwhile. Much Gratitude

Have a wonderful weekend.

Blessings and Love

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@John: I am grateful for your kind words of appreciation. For me, it means a lot. I'm glad you liked it. - Greatly appreciated. Much gratitude I wish you an enjoyable and beautiful weekend.

Blessings always

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@Ravi: Thank you very much, Ravi, for those gracious words. There is no doubt that Colonel Sanders is a very significant figure in the food service industry. Every time I say KFC before this delicious fried chicken and hamburgers, I always picture him first. ... He is an iconic figure.

Blessings & Peace.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@Pamela: Thank you very much for your kind remarks of appreciation. I always like seeing you around. Much Appreciated

Love and Blessings to you too.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Rebels. on April 30, 2021:

@Mr. Bill: Thank you very much for your kind words, truly appreciated. I am pleased to hear that I have shared something different today. What you say means a great deal to me. Much gratitude. Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Blessings and Peace

Iqra from East County on April 30, 2021:

Colonel Harland sander's story is very interesting like when he was six years old, his father passed away leaving Sanders to cook and care for his siblings. In seventh grade, he dropped out of school and left home to go work as a farmhand.

Great history of Colonel and KFC, Thanks Misbah sis for sharing this interesting story. God bless you

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 30, 2021:

Thanks for the history of the person most, if not all, chicken lovers admire. The taste of his chicken is still exceptional. I wish we knew the story of him banging his clients in the courtroom.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 30, 2021:

I don't eat fried foods, but I've certainly heard of Colonel Sanders. However, I knew absolutely nothing about him. Now I do. This is a very well-written, well-organized article. Thanks so much. Blessings to you.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2021:

From a disadvantaged background, he certainly accomplished much during his life. Colonel Sanders will always be associated with his brand of fried chicken. He was a jack of all trades in his early years! Thanks for filling in so much about his background and his life story.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on April 30, 2021:

Misbah, it was very interesting to read about Colonel Sanders’ history. I knew a little about him but nothing this in-depth.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on April 30, 2021:

Very interesting Misbah.Colonel Sanders was certainly an iconic character in the restaurant industry and his foray into the fast food industry completely changed the dynamics of the industry. Thanks for sharing this wonderful history of a legendary man.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 30, 2021:

I didn't know the story of Colonel Sanders. I found your article to be very interesting, Misbah. Thank you for sharing this interesting story.

Love and blessings!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 30, 2021:

What a fascinating person! Great history. I knew nothing about him until this article. He is a household name here in the States, but I would venture to guess most people don't know this story. Very interesting, my friend. Thank you, and blessings always.

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