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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Harland David Sanders, the creator of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, was born to Wilbert and Margaret Ann (Dunlevy) Sanders in Henryville, Indiana, on September 9, 1890. When he was six years old, his father died; his mother later married William Broaddus. Sanders quit school after the sixth grade and went to work at a variety of jobs -- as farmhand, streetcar conductor, steamboat ferry operator, railroad fireman, secretary, insurance salesman, tire salesman, and furniture store owner.
In 1930 Sanders moved to Corbin, Kentucky, where he opened a service station. Behind the station, he operated a lunchroom that seated six around the single table. The business expanded rapidly, and by 1937 Sanders' Cafe seated 142 customers, who made fried chicken the most popular item on the menu. Sanders often told of his experimentation with a variety of recipes until he hit upon the unique combination of eleven herbs and spices that "stand on everybody's shelf." He also refined the frying process by using the pressure cooker. After a fire destroyed the cafe in 1939, Sanders rebuilt the business as a restaurant and motel. Business was good until the construction of Interstate 75, which bypassed Corbin.
Sanders auctioned the restaurant and motel, and at the age of sixty-six began to sell franchises based on his fried chicken recipe. The first franchise went to Pete Harman of Salt Lake City. Sanders was a pioneer in the new business of franchising, and initial sales were slow. By 1959, however, more than two hundred Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in the United States and Canada sold food under the Colonel Sanders trademark. Sanders was first commissioned a Kentucky Colonel , an honorary title, in 1934 by Gov. Ruby Laffoon (1931-35), and was recommissioned in 1950 by Gov. Lawrence Wetherby (1950-55). After 1950 he began to look the part, growing a mustache and a goatee and wearing a white suit and a string tie. Sanders's oldest daughter, Margaret, suggested selling fried chicken as a take-home item -- an innovation at that time -- and the first carry-out Kentucky Fried Chicken was built in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1960 Sanders moved the growing company to Shelbyville, Kentucky.
On February 18, 1964, Sanders sold his franchising business to John Y. Brown, Jr., Kentucky governor during 1979-83, and Jack Massey for $2 million. He kept the foreign franchises, however, and rewarded Pete Harman by giving him those in Utah and Montana. Sanders was retained on salary as spokesman for Kentucky Fried Chicken, often appearing in television commercials. Heublein, Inc. of Connecticut bought Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1971 for $275 million. In 1978 Heublein sold the business to R.J. Reynolds Company, which in turn sold it to Pepsico, Inc. for $840 million in 1986. Displeased with the operation of the company after 1971, Sanders brought suit against Heublein over the alleged misuse of his image in the sale of products with which he had no connection. In 1975 an unsuccessful libel suit was brought against Sanders after he publicly referred to Kentucky Fried Chicken gravy as "sludge" and claimed it had a "wallpaper taste."
Sanders contributed money to religious charities, hospitals, medical research, education, the Boy Scouts, Junior Achievement, and the March of Dimes. A highly visible figure, he was immediately recognizable. At the age of eighty-seven, he testified against mandatory retirement before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on Aging.
Sanders was married to Josephine King in 1908; they had three children: Margaret, Harland Jr., and Mildred. They were divorced in 1947. Sanders married Claudia (Leddington) Price in 1949. Sanders died on December 16, 1980, and lay in state at the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort. He was buried in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery.
Selected Sources from UK Libraries:
Pearce, John Ed. The Colonel : The Captivating Biography of the Dynamic Founder of a Fast-food Empire. 1st ed. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1982. Print.
B Sa5593pe, Special Collections Library – Biography Collection
Perkins, Jack, History Channel, and Arts Entertainment Network. Colonel Sanders. New York, NY: & E Television Networks, 1998.
AV-D5627, Young Media Library
Sanders, Margaret. The Colonel's Secret : Eleven Herbs and a Spicy Daughter. Wellington, FL: Ibis Foundation, 1996. Print.
TX910.5.S36 S360 1996 – Special Collections Library