Colonel Sanders

Colonel Sanders

When it comes to advertising mascots, most are fictional, the product of some ad agency’s vivid imagination. One colorful exception was Colonel Harland Sanders. Wearing his immaculate white suit, skinny tie and sporting his trademark goatee, Colonel Sanders professed the virtues of his plump juicy chicken, fried up with his secret “11 herbs and spices,” to anyone who would listen. And, as it turned out, millions did.

Harland Sanders held a number of jobs in his youth, from insurance salesman to Army man, only to settle down at the age of 40, cooking batches of chicken up for the patrons of his gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. Luckily, his home was attached to the gas station, allowing him to serve their meals in the comforts of his living room. Doesn’t sound like much of million-dollar idea at all but the Colonel was never one to be underestimated. He just needed a couple of decades to perfect things.

At the age of 65, when most would consider retirement and a life of leisure, Colonel Sanders took his chicken act on the road and proceeded to build an empire. One by one, Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants started popping up, and so did Sanders’ famous mug.

In 1964, just a decade after he began franchising his recipe for chicken, there were over 600 restaurants around the country and Kentucky Fried Chicken had become a household name. Colonel Sanders remained spokesperson for his famous chicken chain until his passing in 1980.

For those that were born too late, the Colonel is little more than a smiling face on millions of buckets of chicken found the world over. The rest of us remember him as a kindly old man who could whip up a mean batch of chicken, and one who embodied the American dream, serving as an inspiration for millions.

If you remember seeing Colonel Sanders during his many television appearances, we welcome your memories in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this iconic restaurant pioneer, here at Retroland.

8 Responses to “Colonel Sanders”

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  1. Stéphane Dumas says:

    Here a KFC commercial in French when its known as “Poulet Frit Kentucky”(PFK) in Quebec with the Colonel Saunders who was broadcasted in Canada in 1979 before his death

    And here another one from 1971 when Kentucky Fried Chicken beginned to open its stores in Canada

  2. jennifer harris says:

    He died in 1980.The only commercials I remember of him are on travel Channel,America Eats,History On a Bun.

  3. Randall Parsley says:

    I remember Colonel Sanders quite well. I worked at a neighborhood Kentucky Fried Chicken about a half block from where we lived. I cleaned the parking lot, swept and mopped the floors and filled the candy machines and help put up stock. One Saturday afternoon I actually got to meet the Colonel when he came to our store. He talked to me for a few minutes and asked how I liked my job. At 14 years old I felt like I was on cloud 9.

  4. Bill Long says:

    I was living in Berlin, Germany, when Col. Sanders passed away (in the U.S. Army with the Berlin Brigade). At the time of his death, I was staying in an apartment that was across the street from a Kentucky Fried Chicken place that had a statue of the Colonel in the lobby. And they kept their lights on 24 hours. I can remember getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, looking at that statue was such a spooky sight!

  5. Bill Long says:

    I would add that the people pretending to be the Colonel aren’t doing any homage to him. They make fun of him and it’s disrespectful. That includes everyone who’s portrayed him since his death.

  6. Bill Long says:

    Many years later I was living in Vietnam (long after the war.. I was a university professor) at the time KFC started there. Because of his resemblance to Ho Chi Minh some of the locals called it Uncle Ho’s Chicken. Interestingly, they were both born in the same year.

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