Harland David "Colonel Sanders" Sanders

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Harland David "Colonel Sanders" Sanders's Geni Profile

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Harland David Sanders, Sr.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Henryville, Clark, Indiana, United States
Death: Died in Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States
Cause of death: Leukemia
Place of Burial: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Wilbur David Sanders and Margaret Ann Sanders
Husband of Claudia Ellen Sanders
Ex-husband of Josephine Sanders
Father of Margaret Josephine Sanders; Harland David Sanders, Jr. and Mildred Ruggles

Occupation: Entrepreneur (Founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken)
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Harland David Sanders, Sr.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, pioneered by Colonel Harland Sanders, has grown to become one of the largest quick service food service systems in the world - with more than a billion "finger lickin' good" Kentucky Fried Chicken dinners served annually in more than 80 countries and territories. But success didn't come easily.

In 1896 Harland's father died, forcing his mother to enter the workforce to support the family. At the tender age of six, young Harlan was responsible for taking care of his younger siblings and doing much of the family's cooking. A year later he was already a master of several regional dishes. Over the course of the next 30 years, Sanders held jobs ranging from streetcar conductor to insurance salesman, but throughout it all his skill as a cook remained.

The Cook Becomes a Colonel

In 1930, the then 40-year-old Sanders was operating a service station in Corbin, Kentucky, and it was there that he began cooking for hungry travelers who stopped in for gas. He didn't have a restaurant yet, so patrons ate from his own dining table in the station's humble living quarters. It was then that he invented what's called "home meal replacement" - selling complete meals to busy, time-strapped families. He called it, "Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week."

As Sanders' fame grew, Governor Ruby Laffoon made him a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 in recognition of his contributions to the state's cuisine. Within four years, his establishment was listed in Duncan Hines' "Adventures in Good Eating."

As more people started coming strictly for the food, he moved across the street to increase his capacity. Over the next decade, he perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the basic cooking technique that is still used today.

The Colonel's Cooking Spreads Worldwide

In 1955, confident of the quality of his fried chicken, the Colonel devoted himself to developing his chicken franchising business. Less than 10 years later, Sanders had more than 600 KFC franchises in the U.S. and Canada, and in 1964 he sold his interest in the U.S. company for $2 million to a group of investors including John Y. Brown Jr. (who later became governor of Kentucky).

Under the new owners, Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation grew rapidly. It went public in 1966, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1969 and eventually was acquired by PepsiCo, Inc. in 1986. In 1997, PepsiCo, Inc. spun-off of its quick service restaurants- including KFC-into an independent restaurant company, Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc. Today, the restaurant company (now YUM! Brands, Inc.), is the world's largest in terms of system units with nearly 32,500 in more than 100 countries and territories.

Until he was fatally stricken with leukemia in 1980 at the age of 90, the Colonel traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting KFC restaurants around the world.

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Business Magnate, Folk Figure. Born in Indiana, over the course of his lifetime he came to exemplify to many the true American entrepreneurial spirit. Sanders' father died when Harland was only 6 years old and he had to help his mother care for his younger brother and sister. This meant doing much of the family cooking. He got his first job when he was 10 and for the next 30 years, Sanders held a variety of jobs ranging from streetcar conductor, a railroad fireman, insurance salesman and service station operator. It was while operating a service station in Corbin, Kentucky in 1930 that Sanders began serving food to travelers that stopped at his service station. He served his customers on his own dining table in the living quarters of the service station. As more people started coming to the service station just for the food, Sanders moved across the street to a motel and restaurant where he could seat more people. Over the next 9 years, he perfected his famous, and very secret, fried chicken recipe that is still used today. As the popularity of his fried chicken grew, Sanders fame began to spread across the state of Kentucky. He was even made a Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of the state in 1935. However, in the 1950's a new interstate highway was planned that would bypass Corbin. Recognizing that his business was doomed, Sanders sold off his restaurant operations and after paying his bills, was reduced to living on his $105 a month Social Security checks. Confident in the quality of his fried chicken, at 62 years old, Sanders devoted himself to franchising his famous chicken. He drove all over the country, 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. By 1964, Colonel Sanders had more than 600 franchised outlets for his chicken in the United States and Canada. That same year he sold his interest in the U.S. company for $2 million to a group of investors. However, he remained a public spokesman for the company and traveled all over the world on behalf of the chicken he had made famous. Until he died at the age of 90, Colonel Sanders had traveled over 250,000 miles a year promoting the chicken empire he founded. ----Bio. by Craig Johnson

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Harland David "Colonel Sanders" Sanders's Timeline

1890
September 9, 1890
Henryville, Clark, Indiana, United States
1908
1908
Age 17
1910
March 29, 1910
Age 19
United States
1912
April 23, 1912
Age 21
Tuscambia, Colbert, Alabama, United States
1947
1947
Age 56
1949
1949
Age 58
1980
December 16, 1980
Age 90
Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States
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Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States