Business Magnate. 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
Founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken Empire