Sanders - Harland David Sanders (a.k.a. "Colonel Sanders") was a
grandfatherly southern gentleman who opened what would be the first in a chain
of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Corbin, Kentucky in 1932 in a lunchroom
behind his gas station. In 1935 Kentucky Governor Rudy Laffoon so liked Sanders'
food that he bestowed upon him the honorary title of a Kentucky Colonel.
By 1937, Sander's Cafe seated 142 customers who often came for the Colonel's
specially prepared southern fried chicken which contained a "secret blend of
eleven herbs and spices."
His trademark formula (which the Colonel claimed could
be found on everybody's kitchen shelves at home) became the most guarded one in
history of advertising (outside of the Coca-Cola formula).
In 1939, the
Colonel's restaurant was listed in Duncan Hines (a renown food critic) guidebook
Adventures in Good Eating. later, when a new interstate highway threatened to put
Sander's chicken operation out of business, he sold his business.
In 1952, using his monthly $105 social security check as his only capital, the Colonel traveled
America making deals to sell his fried chicken on a franchise basis. Around the
same time, the Colonel began to dress the part in his now famous white suit, black string tie and white goatee beard.
On February 18, 1964 Sanders sold his franchised chicken business (more than 600 outlets in the United States and
Canada) for $2 million to a group of investors but was retained on salary as
spokesman for Kentucky Fried Chicken often appearing in television commercials.
One such TV spot in the 1960s showed an angry housewife who kidnapped the
Colonel, interrogated him in an abandoned warehouse and demanded he give up his
secret recipe. Of course, he didn't.
In 1975, Colonel Sanders was sued unsuccessfully for libel by Heublein Incorporated when he publicly referred to
Kentucky Fried Chicken gravy as "sludge" and that it had a "wallpaper taste." He
was being paid $250,000 a year to promote KFC chicken at the time. In 1976, an
independent survey ranked the Colonel as the world's second most recognizable celebrity.
When not representing KFC, the Colonel contributed money to a number
of charities and community organization and at the age of eighty-seven, he
testified against the mandatory retirement before a Select Subcommittee on
Born September 9, 1890, Harland Sanders, died of leukemia on December 16,
1980 at the age of 90. He was buried in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery. His
legacy has now been franchised worldwide to new generations who still find his
chicken "Finger Lickin' Good."
Heublein Incorporated who purchased the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1971, sold the company to Pepsico in October 1986 for
approximately $840 million (later spun off as part of Yum! Brands in 2002).
TRIVIA NOTE: On the March 6, 1991 installment of THE TONIGHT SHOW,
late night talk show host Johnny Carson did
a comedy sketch featuring the "last words" uttered by famous people before they
died. Reportedly, Colonel Sanders said: "I have a confession to make. There are
no secret herbs and spices. That flavor is chicken sweat."
The Colonel Harland Sanders museum at the KFC Headquarters, located west of
Interstate 264 (exit 15A) in Louisville, Kentucky, traces the history of the
Colonel's chicken empire.
In January of 2006, actress Pam Anderson petitioned Governor Ernie Fletcher to remove
statue of Colonel Sanders in the Capitol rotunda in Frankford, Kentucky.
Anderson, a member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
protested, "The bust of Colonel Sanders stands as a monument to cruelty and has
no place in the Kentucky state Capitol."
While Anderson's efforts to remove the statue proved unsuccessful, she did bring attention to
animal abuse in America.
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