The Story Of One Man Who Built His Business AFTER The Government Built A Road That By-Passed His Town.
In the beginning...
Colonel Harland Sanders, born September 9,
actively began franchising his chicken business at the age of 65. Now, the
Kentucky Fried Chicken® business he started has grown to be one of the largest
retail food service systems in the world. And Colonel Sanders, a quick service
restaurant pioneer, has become a symbol of entrepreneurial spirit.
More than two billion of the Colonel's "finger lickin'
good" chicken dinners are served annually. And not just in North America. The Colonel's cooking is available
in more than 82 countries around the world.
When the Colonel was six, his father died. His mother was
forced to go to work, and young Harland had to take care of his three-year-old
brother and baby sister. This meant doing much of the family cooking. By the
age of seven, he was a master of a score of regional dishes.
At age 10, he got his first job working on a nearby farm for
$2 a month. When he was 12, his mother remarried and he left his home near Henryville, Ind., for a job on a farm in Greenwood, Ind. He held a series of jobs over the
next few years, first as a 15-year-old streetcar conductor in New Albany, Ind.,
and then as a 16-year-old private, soldiering for six months in Cuba.
After that he was a railroad fireman, studied law by
correspondence, practiced in justice of the peace courts, sold insurance,
operated an Ohio River steamboat ferry, sold tires, and operated service
stations. When he was 40, the Colonel began cooking for hungry travelers who
stopped at his service station in Corbin, Ky. He didn't have a restaurant then,
but served folks on his own dining table in the living quarters of his service
As more people started coming just for food, he moved across
the street to a motel and restaurant that seated 142 people. Over the next nine
years, he perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the basic
cooking technique that is still used today.
As we grew...
Sander's fame grew. Governor Ruby Laffoon made him a
Kentucky Colonel in 1935 in recognition of his contributions to the state's
cuisine. And in 1939, his establishment was first listed in Duncan Hines'
"Adventures in Good Eating."
In the early 1950s a new interstate highway was planned to
bypass the town of Corbin. Seeing an end to his business, the
Colonel auctioned off his operations. After paying his bills, he was reduced to
living on his $105 Social Security checks.
Confident of the quality of his fried chicken, the Colonel
devoted himself to the chicken franchising business that he started in 1952. He
traveled across the country by car from restaurant to restaurant, cooking
batches of chicken for restaurant owners and their employees. If the reaction
was favorable, he entered into a handshake agreement on a deal that stipulated
a payment to him of a nickel for each chicken the restaurant sold.
Until he was fatally stricken with leukemia in 1980 at the
age of 90, the Colonel traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting the KFC empire he
And it all began with a 65-year-old gentleman who used his
$105 Social Security check to start a business.
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