Kentucky Fried Chicken, now known to most officially as KFC, was founded by Colonel Harland David Sanders, in 1955, as a small fried chicken restaurant franchising chain. Later, in 1964, Colonel Sanders sold the franchising chain, which at the time had over 600 franchises in the United States and Canada, to a man who would later become the governor of Kentucky, John Y. Brown, Jr.
From 1966 when the company went public, and from 1969 when KFC was officially listed on the New York Stock Exchange, KFC has continued to grow and became one of the fastest growing restaurant franchise chains ever. In 1986, PepsiCo, Inc acquired the KFC chain and franchise name. Today, KFC, which is still under the PepsiCo company family, now belongs to its own company, Yum! Brands, Inc.
According to the KFC website, KFC is considered the largest in the world, “…in terms of system units with nearly 32,500 in more than 100 countries and territories.” (Retrieved May 1, 2007, from: http://www.kfc.com/about/colonel.asp)
Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC and the official KFC mascot of sorts over the years, stayed actively involved in the company, even after selling the company for $2 million dollars.
Born in 1890 in a small town in Indiana, Colonel Sanders was the oldest of three children. When his father died, Colonel Sanders was only five years old, and by his teen years, he took on the responsibility of cooking and caring for his younger siblings while his mother worked to pay the bills.
Colonel Sanders then dropped out of school his seventh grade year, the end of his sixth grade year, in order to work and help support the family. After holding various odd jobs from a very young age, Colonel Sanders did finally join the Army and served as a private in Cuba – not a colonel!
So where does the colonel title come from?
Good question. After searching the internet, the answer finally came from Yahoo! Answers, where they answered the question: Is Colonel Sanders really a colonel?
With the following: “Well, sort of.” (Source: Yahoo! Answers, http://ask.yahoo.com/20061121.html)
How ambiguous of them!
Seriously though, Colonel Sanders never actually served in active military as a colonel, but Governor Ruby Laffoon, who was the governor of Kentucky in 1935, bestowed upon Colonel Sanders the honorary status of Kentucky Colonel. In fact, Colonel Sanders was not the only person to receive honorary colonel status in America. Several other political and entertainment professionals have also received that status.
Thus started the white suit look that is so well known as the “Colonel Sanders look” or the “Colonel Sanders suit” because Colonel Sanders wanted to look the part of what a stereotypical, southern, veteran colonel would look like.
Colonel Sanders did marry, in fact, married one of his employees. Together, the couple had three children before they divorced.
Sadly, Colonel Sanders lost a battle with leukemia and died at the age of 90, on December 16, 1980. Before his death, the KFC website states that Colonel Sanders had traveled over 250,000 miles per year to make the rounds to each KFC establishment in the world as the well known, and well loved, KFC official mascot.