Many believe he is a fictional character. An iconic figure created to be the official face of the brand. But Colonel Sanders existed and was responsible for the creation of the KFC fried chicken chain 70 years ago. He started his business in his home kitchen and when he turned 66 he decided to go on a road trip to sell his secret fried chicken recipe. Today the business he founded generates more than $30 billion in annual revenue.
Harland Sanders was born in 1890 and raised on his family’s farm in Henryville, Indiana. His father died when he was young, and while his mother worked, he took care of cooking for his brothers. During his youth he held many professions, from insurance salesman to obstetrician and even studied law by post. However, in 1930 he bought a service station in Corbin, Kentucky, where his gastronomic project would take shape.
The Colonel’s Kitchen
Truckers and commuters passing by his business ask him for recommendations on places to eat, so he saw an opportunity. He started cooking different dishes, which he served at the kitchen table. Word spread about his delicious food and soon he had such a clientele that he had to move to an exclusive place for his food across the street from the original business.
Although he had served briefly in the military, Sanders had not attained the rank of colonel, but was honored by the Governor of Kentucky in 1935. For the first time, his iconic white suit adorned with a black bow tie .
Over time, Sanders refined his recipe by introducing a blend of 11 herbs and spices. He also found the ideal cooking method for his fried chicken, the star dish of his restaurant. He previously cooked it in a pan, a process that took at least half an hour. But at a demo event he discovered the pressure cooker and since then his fried pieces came out in minutes.
The birth of Kentucky Fried Chicken
Seeing that his business was successful, the Colonel opened a branch of his Sanders Café in North Carolina, however a series of unfortunate events complicated his plan. His store in Corbin burned down, while his new project did not have the expected sales. Added to this, they built a bypass on the highway that bordered their restaurant, so many tourists and travelers didn’t frequent it.
But Sanders didn’t stop there. Before that, in 1952, he had already managed to open a franchise with his fried chicken in Salt Lake City, Utah. He gave them the right to market their recipe under the Kentucky Fried Chicken name in exchange for a percentage of royalties for each dish sold. In 1956 he decided to sell his restaurant in Corbin and got into his car to tour towns selling his brand.
She packed several pressure cookers, flour, and jars full of her herbal mixture. He went from restaurant to restaurant offering a taste of his fried chicken, opening nearly 600 Kentucky Fried Chicken locations. One of its earliest employees was Dave Thomas, who in 1968 founded the fast food chain Wendy’s.
a critical ambassador
In 1964, Now 74, Sanders is selling his company for $2 million to a group consisting of lawyer John Brown and investor Jack Massey. In return, the colonel will receive a salary for life and will continue to be the brand’s global ambassador. Seven years later, the brand passed into the hands of the Heublein food company, and Sanders was not entirely satisfied.
The colonel had requested that the quality of the chicken be maintained and believed that this had not been done. He criticized its taste and even went so far as to say that the sauce looked like wallpaper. Heublein sued him for defamation, although the Kentucky court dismissed the claim.
Sanders opened her location The Colonel’s Lady’s Dinner House in 1971 and after another legal dispute, renamed it Claudia Sanders Dinner House. He finally died in 1980 at the age of 90.
China, its star market
RJ Reynolds tobacco company bought Heublein in 1982 and four years later sold the brand to PepsiCo for $850 million. In 1991 it simplified its name to KFC. The holding company spun off its restaurant business in 1997 and formed Tricon Global Restaurants (now renamed Yum! Brands) which includes chains such as Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.
According to the company’s latest earnings report, KFC has 26,521 branches spread across more than 145 countries. In the first half of 2022, it reported sales of US$14,985 million and is the highest revenue-generating vertical for Yum! Brand. 27% of its sales come from China, while the United States represents only 17 percent.
It arrived in Argentina in 2013 at the hands of DEGASA, which owns the master franchise. At that time the firm was controlled by the Inverlat fund and in 2018 it was acquired by the Ecuadorian group Int Food Services. In total they manage 22 stores in the country in Buenos Aires, CABA, Rosario and Mendoza.