A charming businessman with an air of sophistication about him, Colonel Sanders was an American man who commanded a lot of respect with his business-savvy moves and hard-work. He is now best known for founding the Kentucky Fried Chicken also known as KFC, one of the world’s most famous fast-food chicken restaurant chains. During his lifetime, Colonel Sanders rose to become one of the highly respected men in the food industry.
Even though he apparently attained success and made a lot of money, it is noteworthy that Colonel Sanders endured so many heartaches and failures before he was able to find success as a businessman. This is one of the many reasons why he is highly admired and held in high esteem. So, how did he become one of America’s leading figures in the food industry even though he was faced with so many troubles? This is the untold story of Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC.
Colonel Sanders Early Life
Colonel Sanders whose full name is Colonel Harland David Sanders was given birth to on the 9th day of September 1890. The businessman was born in Henryville, Indiana, a town in Clark County, Indiana, the USA. Born to a father identified as Wilbur David and a mother called Margaret Ann, Sanders grew up with two siblings and he was the eldest child in the family.
By the time Sanders was just 6 years old, his father died and this plunged the family into hard times. His mother eventually secured a job at a tomato cannery so Sanders was left to cater for his younger siblings by cooking for them. This helped him develop cooking skills and by the age of 7, he could cook vegetables and make bread pretty well. He learned to mature quickly because of what he was faced with and by age 10, he was already working as a farmhand.
His mother later remarried but Sanders found it hard to get along with his step-father. He also didn’t do very well in school, so he dropped out of school in 7th grade and consequently went to live at a nearby farm.
His Early Career
From the time he was a child to when he became a lot older, Colonel Sanders did so many different jobs, failing at many and gaining lots of experience. When he was 13 years old, he left home and secured a job as a horse carriage painter in Indianapolis. The very next year, he left the job and moved to southern Indiana to work as a farmhand when he was 14 years old. He later worked as a conductor when he went to live with his uncle who worked for a streetcar company in New Albany.
In 1906, Colonel Sanders enlisted in the United States Army after falsifying his age. He was then honorably discharged in 1907 and proceeded to take a job as a blacksmith’s helper in Sheffield, Alabama. He went on to work as a cleaner cleaning out the ash pans of trains in Alabama Railroad. Later on, he served as a fireman on the Illinois Central Railroad but got fired after fighting with a colleague. After studying law by correspondence, Colonel Sanders started practicing law in Little Rock for three years but his legal career ended after he engaged in a fight with his own client inside a courtroom.
When his legal career ended, Colonel Sanders secured a job as a laborer in Pennsylvania. Shortly after he started selling insurance for the Prudential Life Insurance Company but was fired for insubordination shortly after. Sanders did a lot of other jobs including being a sales agent. He also had a ferry boat company which later failed.
Sanders later moved to Kentucky and began to operate a restaurant where he featured fried chicken in his menu. His fried chicken recipe eventually became so popular that he was honored as a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 by Governor Ruby Laffoon. This was where he got the ‘Colonel’ prefix to his name.
Colonel Sanders’ Meteoric Rise To Fame
Colonel Sanders began to franchise his fried chicken business in 1952. This was because the traffic to his restaurant had reduced drastically because of a new interstate law at the time, so he sold his restaurant and started to go round the country, visiting different places, cooking batches of chicken with his own recipe from restaurant to restaurant, and striking deals with those restaurants to pay him a nickel for every chicken the restaurant sold.
Colonel Sanders continued this way till he had more 600 franchised outlets selling fried chicken with his recipe. In 1964, he decided to sell the interests in the company to some investors. The company Kentucky Fried Chicken eventually went public in 1966 and was thereafter listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1969.
The company kept growing and in 1971, it was acquired for $285 million by Heublein Inc. before becoming a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds Industries, Inc. in 1982. It was then acquired by PepsiCo, Inc., for approximately $840 million in 1986. During all this time, Colonel Sanders served as the company’s brand ambassador and became very popular around the USA among people who came to love KFC.
Eventually, Colonel Sanders died on December 16, 1980, at the age of 90. He died in Louisville, Kentucky after suffering from leukemia. At the time of his death, he was married to a woman named Claudia Price. He was previously married to a woman called Josephine King from 1909 to 1947. He had three children; two daughters and one son.