171: Colonel Sanders

Colonel Harland Sanders.
Colonel Harland Sanders.

Today is the birthday of fried chicken magnate Colonel Harland Sanders.

Here are a few things you may not have known about him.

Sanders was born in 1890 in Henryville, Indiana, just north of Louisville, Kentucky. His father died when Sanders was five years old, forcing his mother to work and leaving Sanders to watch over his younger brother and sister. Because of this he learned to cook, and by the age of seven had learned to bake bread. After dropping out of school in seventh grade, Sanders worked as a farmhand, a house painter and later falsified his age to enlist in the army. After leaving the army at 17 years old, he began working as a railroad fireman. In 1930 Sanders took over a service station in North Corbin, Kentucky, where he opened a restaurant serving fried chicken. In 1935 he was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel, an honorary title bestowed by the commonwealth of Kentucky. In 1940 he perfected his secret recipe and method for cooking chicken in a pressure cooker.

In 1952, Sanders sold the first franchise for what would become Kentucky Fried Chicken, earning four cents per chicken sold. By the mid-1960s, KFC had expanded internationally, opening outlets in Canada, England, Mexico and Jamaica. In 1964, after the business grew to include more than 600 locations, Sanders sold the American arm of the business for $2 million. He remained with the company as a spokesman and mascot. After selling the company, the new owners changed the gravy recipe, which infuriated the Colonel, who called the new recipe wallpaper paste to which sludge was added.

Colonel Harland Sanders died of leukemia in 1980 at the age of 90.

In 2013, one of Sanders’ famous white suits and black ties sold at auction for $21,510. It was purchased by the president of Kentucky Fried Chicken of Japan.

Our question, how many herbs and spices are in the Colonel’s Original Recipe?

Today is also: Chrysanthemum Day in Japan and Independence Day in North Korea and Tajikistan. In the United States, it’s unofficially National Teddy Bear Day. It is the birthday of musician Otis Redding, actor Adam Sandler and actor Hugh Grant.


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