Colonel Harland David Sanders: Nobody Does Chicken Like KFC

The present-day fast food industry is the confluence of companies that sprung up during the mid-90s and 2000s.  Multinational companies like Pizza Hut and Burger King are popular around the globe, but KFC enjoys a following of its own. Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, will be remembered as one of the greatest businessmen and entrepreneurs to have existed.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is the second-largest food chain with presence in over 22,621 locations across 132 countries. The recipe that made KFC marketable and sought-after was a pressure fried chicken blended with Sander’s 11 spices and recipes. With over 25 billion USD in revenue, Colonel Sanders gifted a delectable delight to chicken lovers through KFC.

Colonel Harland David Sanders - Biography

Name Colonel Harland Sanders
Born September 9, 1890 - Henryville, Indiana, U.S.
Died December 16, 1980 - Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Age 90
Nationality American
Education La Salle Extension University
Occupation Businessman, restaurateur
Founded Kentucky Fried Chicken(KFC)
Net worth ~$3.5 million (at the time of death)

Harland David Sanders Story

The logo and icon of the mega-brand, Colonel Sanders had multiple occupations under his belt. He was a filling station operator, insurance salesman, and a steam engine stoker before selling chicken from his roadside restaurant during the Great Depression. He sold chicken pieces which were blended with a secret recipe prepared by him. Every successful entrepreneur identifies an object or idea as a manifestation of their thoughts to change the world; Colonel found his in chicken.

He was paid $0.04 for a single piece of chicken. When his North Cabin restaurant had to be shut down, he was left only with some savings and $105 from Social Security. In dire need, he began to franchise his chicken concept and traveled across the United States in search of restaurants. Talent can not be left unrecognized and this was the case with Harland David Sanders. The tables were turned and restaurant owners began visiting Sanders as they were mesmerized by his recipe. After recognizing the potential in his recipe, he set up the first KFC restaurant in South Salt Lake, Utah, in 1952. After his North Cabin restaurant debacle, he devoted his time to building and uplifting the KFC brand.

KFC’s Rapid Expansion In The US

Harland David Sanders KFC
KFC logo

When it comes to popular food chains, customers tend to frequent a restaurant if it offers quality food. Quality is a major differentiator amongst restaurants. KFC’s finger licking menu enabled it to expand rapidly through the United States. Following KFC’s success, Sanders sold the company for 2 million dollars in 1964 to a group of investors, John Y. Brown Jr and Jack C. Massey while holding control of operations in Canada.


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Brand Icon

Sanders remained the face of KFC even after selling it. He travelled over 200,000 miles every year to promote KFC around the world. Sanders’ image was meant to demonstrate his determination and persistence, and encourage customers to assimilate the same. He often visited KFC restaurants and used to taste the gravy. Sanders used to proclaim that his self-made gravy was so good that one would throw away the damn chicken and eat the gravy. ‘God-damned slop’ was his phrase whenever he disliked KFC’s gravy at a franchise. The Colonel was a perfectionist and did not withstand compromise in quality. In 1973, he stood up against the dip in quality of food and sued the parent company, Hueblein Inc. that owned the KFC brand and sold items he never developed. An unsuccessful lawsuit was filed by Hueblein Inc. against Sanders for he labeled the the gravy ‘wall-paper’.

Life Beyond KFC

Disappointed by the way KFC was being managed, Colonel and his wife reopened their restaurant and started serving the original KFC styleed chicken. They named the restaurant Claudia Sanders, The Colonel’s Lady.  Unfortunately, the couple was sued by the owners of KFC. After reaching a settlement, he sold the restaurant and which continues to operate even today. It is the only restaurant that serves chicken prepared from the recipe as used by KFC.

Colonel Sanders has been posthumously a part of various television commercials. His appearance in DC comics and WWE commercials pay homage to his legacy.


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Charity And Philanthropy

The Sanders foundations has donated to various children hospitals in Canada. To honor the foundation’s substantial donation, the wing of Mississauga hospital for women and children is named as the Colonel Harland Sanders Family Care Centre.

An Inspiration

Even after being fired from legal jobs and facing multiple setbacks, Colonel Sanders always learned from his mistakes and grew as an entrepreneur. He had to take up various occupations in order to sustain a livelihood. Starting from insurance salesman to filling up gas stations, Sanders had done it all. After surviving the Great Depression, he founded a food chain which is an inseparable part of our daily life. The KFC is now part of every country’s food chain. Customer satisfaction is what drove Sanders to criticize KFC. After nearly three decades of his death, his image still finds a place on the posters and magazines. He is, without any doubt, one of the best entrepreneurs who thrived for perfection in his products.

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About Rishabh Rathi

Pre-Final Year Computer Science Undergrad and a freelancer.
  • Nagpur
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