The Life and Legacy of Harland Sanders, Founder of KFC

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Harland Sanders
Edgy01 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Birth nameHarland David Sanders
BornSeptember 9, 1890
BirthplaceHenryville, Indiana, U.S.
DiedDecember 16, 1980 (aged 90)
OccupationEntrepreneur, restaurateur, author, and philanthropist
Known forFounder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
Signature dishKFC’s original recipe fried chicken
Years active1930-1980
Net worth (at death)$3.5 million
Honors and awardsColonel Harland Sanders Honorary Life Member Award (Kentucky Colonel)

Harland Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, was the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, one of the most popular fast-food chains in the world. He was born on September 9, 1890, in Henryville, Indiana, and grew up in a poor family. He left school in the 7th grade to work on a farm and later worked a variety of jobs, including as a railroad fireman and a tire salesman.

Sanders’ passion for cooking began at a young age, and he often cooked meals for his family. He began selling fried chicken at a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky, in the 1930s, and his chicken soon became famous in the area. In 1952, he opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Utah, and the business quickly grew.

By the early 1960s, there were over 600 KFC locations in the United States and Canada, and the company went public in 1966. Sanders continued to serve as the face of the company, appearing in commercials and making public appearances until his death in 1980.

At the time of his death, Colonel Sanders was estimated to be worth around $3.5 million. However, his legacy and influence on the fast-food industry continue to this day. The image of Sanders, with his white hair, goatee, and signature white suit, remains an iconic symbol of KFC.

Today, KFC has over 24,000 locations in 145 countries worldwide, and the company generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. Colonel Sanders’ success as a businessman and his contribution to the fast-food industry have made him an enduring figure in American popular culture.


1890: Harland Sanders is born on September 9th, in Henryville, Indiana, to Wilbur David and Margaret Ann Sanders.

1900s: Harland drops out of school in the 7th grade and takes on various jobs to support his family, including working as a farmhand, a streetcar conductor, and a tire salesman.

1930: Harland opens his first restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, serving mainly fried chicken and other Southern-style dishes.

1935: The restaurant is destroyed by a fire, forcing Harland to rebuild.

1940s-1950s: Harland perfects his recipe for fried chicken and begins traveling the country to sell his seasoning blend and teach other restaurant owners how to prepare his famous dish.

1952: Harland opens the first KFC franchise in South Salt Lake, Utah.

1964: Harland sells KFC to a group of investors for $2 million but stays on as a spokesman for the company.

1971: Harland is appointed “Kentucky Colonel” by the governor of Kentucky in recognition of his contributions to the state’s cuisine.

1980: Harland passes away on December 16th, at the age of 90.

Today, KFC has over 24,000 restaurants in 145 countries worldwide, and Harland Sanders’ legacy as the founder of the world-famous fast-food chain lives on.

5 Interesting Facts about Harland Sanders:

  1. Sanders dropped out of school in 7th grade and began working various jobs, including as a farmhand, streetcar conductor, and tire salesman.
  2. Sanders developed his famous secret recipe for fried chicken in the 1930s and began selling it from his gas station in Corbin, Kentucky.
  3. Sanders was awarded the honorary title of “Colonel” by the Governor of Kentucky in 1935, and he began dressing in the trademark white suit and string tie that he would wear for the rest of his life.
  4. In addition to his fried chicken recipe, Sanders also invented a number of other dishes, including the KFC famous sides of mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, and biscuits.
  5. Sanders was a prolific writer and wrote several books, including his autobiography “Life as I Have Known It Has Been Finger Lickin’ Good.”

5 Quotes from Harland Sanders:

  1. “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”
  2. “One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to something better.”
  3. “I’m not afraid to take a swing and miss.”
  4. “I learned early on that I could get more out of people by praising them than by criticizing them.”
  5. “I’m too busy frying chicken to worry about what anybody thinks about me.”

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