When it comes to iconic characters in advertising history, most are fictitious, the product of someone’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 it turned out that millions did. Today, we honor the real man responsible for bringing Kentucky Fried Chicken to the dinner table.
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.