Once upon a time, there was an older man whose only worldly possessions consisted of a beat up old car and a tiny little house. Barely able to live off his meagre $99 social security and fed up, he resolved to make a change. His only item of real value was his chicken recipe loved by friends.
Determined, he left Kentucky and travelled through many states, touting his recipe. His efforts were met with resounding refusals. Finally, the recipe was offered for free in exchange for tiny proceeds of the sale. 1009 times later, he finally met with success.
That was the birth of Kentucky Fried Chicken, otherwise known as KFC by Harland David Sanders.
Some background information :
Harland Sanders left home with his Mom’s permission to navigate his future and get away from his stepfather.
He worked at various professions but it was here at the Railway that he met his future wife and the mother of his three children whilst studying law at night. The Shell Oil Company offered Sanders a service station in return for a percentage of sales. Here, Sanders served chicken dishes and pub styled grub. There was stiff competition which was put to bed when his competitor was jailed for killing a Shell employee due to a fracas over the repainting of a traffic sign.
Sanders’ popularity grew when he was commissioned as a Kentucky colonel. A food critic wrote a favourable review. Life progressed. Sanders divorced and married his mistress and realised his dream of being “re-commissioned” as a Kentucky colonel by his friend.
Despite getting on in years, Sanders visited restaurants and began again his marketing pitch. Before long, potential franchisee owners were visiting Sanders instead. Sanders patented his method of pressure frying chicken and trademarked the phrase “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good”.
Did you know another diner exists with the “original recipe”?
Turns out a restaurant was re-opened as “Claudia Sanders, The Colonel’s Lady” where the original KFC chicken recipe was used. Sanders was sued, a settlement reached, the restaurant sold yet it continues to trade as the only other authorized version of the southern fried chicken recipe.
Passionate and determined to retain some control in Canada, Sanders became a salaried brand ambassador for Kentucky Fried Chicken, at one point concerned and critical of deteriorating food standards served at KFC outlets.
Sanders was indulged by his following when he began to dress like a “Colonel”. He grew a goatee, bleached both the goatee and moustache, took to wearing a white suit, string tie included. Talk about undeniable branding!
Sanders was diagnosed with acute leukemia but passed from pneumonia. He left behind a legacy of around 6,000 KFC outlets in 48 countries worldwide with billions in sales annually.
A philanthropist, Sanders created the Colonel Harland Sanders Charitable Organization and made sizeable donations to worthy women and children’s organisations.
What began as a roadside business selling fried chicken during the Great Depression in Kentucky turned into a multi-million dollar franchise which Harland Sanders sold at age 73 to investors John Brown and Jacky Masses for $2 million dollars (some 16 million dollars plus today).
Business man, restaurateur that he became, he persevered. Never gave up despite the volley of rejection and finally success was achieved.
A lesson there for all of us.