May 20, 2009

Harland Sanders

The man in the KFC logo was a real person. His name was Harland Sanders. His father died when he was five years old and since his mother worked, he was required to cook for his family. Jobs he had during his lifetime included a steamboat pilot, insurance salesman, and railroad fireman

When Sanders was forty he owned a service station in Corbin, Ky and would serve customers his fried chicken and after it grew in popularity, he bought a motel and restaurant that seated 142 people. Over the years he perfected his method of cooking his chicken which included the eleven secret herbs and spices.

He was given the honorary title of "Kentucky Colonel" in 1935 by Governor Ruby Laffoon (rhymes with buffoon). Anyone Kentuckian can become a Kentucky Colonel by request to the Governor's Office. My wife's a Kentucky Colonel. I have to give her the secret handshake whenever Colonel McClain dresses in her white suit, string tie, and fake goatee.

After the construction of Interstate 75 reduced his restaurant's customer traffic, Sanders took to franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, starting at age 65, using $105 from his first Social Security check to fund visits to potential franchisees. Sanders allegedly had 1,009 rejections when trying to establish his franchise, until he founded the now international restaurant chain KFC. You've got to admire the man's perserverance.

Sanders sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken corporation, in 1964, for $2,000,000 to a partnership of Kentucky businessmen headed by future Governor of Kentucky, John Y. Brown, Jr. Sanders stayed only as the spokesperson.Back in the 70's I made an acqaintance with the man who drove Colonel Sanders around to his various public relations jaunts. He said the Colonel cussed like a sailor and was always cranky.

In 1973 he sued Heublein Inc. (the KFC parent company at the time) over alleged misuse of his image in promoting products he had not helped develop. In 1975 Heublein Inc. unsuccessfully sued Sanders for libel after he publicly referred to their gravy as "sludge" with a "wallpaper taste".

Sanders later founded the Colonel Harland Sanders Trust and Colonel Harland Sanders Charitable Organization, which used the proceeds to aid charities and fund scholarships.

Sanders died in Louisville, Kentucky, of pneumonia on December 16, 1980. His body laid in state in the rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol. His funeral was attended by more than 1,000 people. He's buried in his characteristic white suit and black string tie in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetary.


  1. Wow, he has REALLY long skinny legs in this picture. (sorry, I couldn't resist)

    He was an amazing guy. Nice post, BB.

  2. About those secret ingredients ... some people think it's spices and herbs ... I've always wondered what herbs they're referring to.

  3. ha! that was very interesting :)
    I love the add, i miss those years, that time in my life ... sigh.
    give my best to your very own honorary colonel lol i love that! hi there mrs m