Your browser is out of date. It may not display all features of this websites. We recommend to use one of these browsers or versions Mozila Firefox or Google Chrome

Connect
To Top

A man and his chicken

By: Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Even today, harland david sanders is still smiling at his customers: his laughing face is the trademark of kentucky fried chicken. How Sanders got his “colonel” title and made his first million.

For every chicken prepared using his recipe, Harland “Colonel” Sanders got five cents. Not a bad idea. To convince cooks that his method really was the best on the market, he traveled through the US letting them test it for themselves. His first franchise contracts were handshake agreements. And they made him pretty rich, pretty quickly.

Colonel Sanders  KFC Fast Food

Company founder Colonel Harland Sanders / Image: KFC

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? In 1930, at age 40, the entrepreneur started preparing chicken for customers at his gas station in Corbin. At first, he cooked everything next door, at his own apartment. As demand increased, though, he expanded his gas station into a motel and restaurant seating 142. He spent the next nine years refining his cooking technique and perfecting his blend of seasonings. The final recipe had eleven herbs and spices—and supposedly the company’s still using the same blend today. Sanders’ exact recipe is one of KFC’s best-kept secrets, of course, but we do know one thing: Sanders used a steamer, which significantly shortened his cooking times compared to preparing the chicken in a pan.

Self-marketing is everything

Colonel Sanders  KFC

There are over 21,000 KFC outlets in more than 130 countries / Image: KFC

In 1935, the governor of Kentucky awarded Sanders the unofficial title of “Colonel of Kentucky”. As part of his unique self-marketing strategy, he began referring to himself as ColonelSanders and wearing white linen to bolster his “typical Southern gentleman” image. After that, all he needed was his friendly smile, and the face of Kentucky Fried Chicken was born. In 1952, armed with his secret recipe and a white linen suit, the Colonel opened up his first franchise restaurant in Salt Lake City—which is still open today. His traveling-sales concept and his marketing prowess proved a winning combination, and Sanders was soon at the helm of one of the world’s largest fast-food chains. He earned his first million at age 65. After retiring from cooking in 1964 and selling the company to an investment group for two million euros, he continued working as the company’s public representative; throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, his face and his relaxed demeanor were featured in a number of KFC commercials. Sanders coined the slogan “Finger-lickin’ good” as his own personal attestation to the quality of the products. Fun fact: Sanders didn’t hold back when he saw something he didn’t like—for example, if the food at one of the restaurants wasn’t up to par. In 1975, KFC even sued him, demanding that he stop making certain negative remarks, but the lawsuit was dismissed.

It seems that the entrepreneur did have a few small regrets after selling the company, though: he later bought its original headquarters in Shelbyville for himself and opened Claudia Sanders’ Dinner House—named after his second wife—on the premises. Sanders died of leukemia at the age of 90, and was buried in Louisville, wearing his trademark white suit and black tie. After all, you know what they say about never changing a winning team.

About Harland David Sanders
Harland David Sanders, better known as the Colonel of Kentucky, founded the now-legendary fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken in the 1930s. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Management

  • 10 key foodservice trends in 2021

    The year 2020 was a year for the industry to forget, but a New Year brings new hope. It also brings...

    Jacquetta Picton - FCSIJanuary 12, 2021
  • Rosy days

    A steak restaurant decorated in pink? "Of course,"says architect Ester Bruzkus. The oldest color in the world can actually do anything,...

    Nicola Afchar-Negad - FalstaffJanuary 7, 2021
  • Sowing the seeds of success

    Plant-based food is proving to be a growing and lucrative profit center for operators worldwide. Alongside the future potential in lab-grown...

    Tina Nielsen - FCSIDecember 21, 2020
  • Coping with the crisis

    As we near the end of 2020 and the development of three vaccines against Covid-19 gives hope to us all, we...

    Jacquetta Picton - FCSIDecember 16, 2020
  • Japanese konbinis – the smallest service centers in the world

    Eat and shop around the clock. Japanese konbinis are much more than multifunctional service centers. In fact, they have long held...

    Ilona MarxDecember 7, 2020
  • Certainty in change: predicting the next decade

    ‘Sure things’ might be easier to predict when the going is good, but how impacted are long-term restaurant trends when a...

    Michael Jones - FCSIDecember 3, 2020
  • Ghostly growth: the rise of dark kitchens

    The growth of dark or ghost kitchens has accelerated in this challenging year as the delivery-only concept has provided foodservice operators...

    Tina Nielsen - FCSINovember 26, 2020
  • Ready for all three phases of the pandemic

    Corona comes in waves, and the measures imposed constantly keep us on our toes. At times everything is under control and...

    Barbara E. EulerNovember 20, 2020
  • Outside is the new in

    One thing we all have to used to is that Corona is a permanent guest and the measures surrounding it are...

    Barbara E. EulerNovember 13, 2020