Colonel Sanders

Money Matters: The Colonel's Kentucky Fried Chicken Empire

In the first episode of our new series called Money Matters, we will be focusing on entrepreneurs of all ends of the cash generating spectrum and how they built their empire.

From food tycoons to pop stars, we will be offering an insight into the stories of some of the world's most famous money makers - both old and new - to give you, the young go-getter, a solid mix of insider tips, inspiration or even advice on what not to do when stepping into the shoes of an entrepreneur.

To start with, we're going to take a trip back in time to look at the life of a certain Mr Colonel Sanders and his multi-international chicken empire. For those of you who don't know - it's KFC...

Born on 9th September 1890 in Henryville, Indiana, David Sanders came from humble beginnings. As a result of his working class background, he learned the value of a hard day’s work from a very tender age.

When he was only six years old, David’s father died, forcing his mother to join the workforce and support the family. As the eldest son, he was the main caretaker for his younger siblings, and one of his principal duties was cooking up the family meals. His love for home cooking fast became a fully-fledged passion.

During the next 30 years of his life, David held an extensive and an eclectic number of jobs including a farmhand, an army mule tender, a railroad worker, a tyre salesperson, a motel manager, a ferryboat investor, an insurance salesperson, an unsuccessful political candidate and a service station operator. Despite his broad mix of occupations, it was at the unlikely setting of the service station where things began to happen for David Sanders.

As a 40-year-old Kentucky service station worker, David started to use his culinary skills once more to cook for tired and hungry travellers who pulled in for fuel. As he didn’t yet officially have a restaurant, David would invite the weary patrons to sit at the dining table of his humble service station living quarters and cook them proper home cooked meals that he branded the “home meal replacement, ” along with the slogan “Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week.” Word got around and soon there were flocks of hungry travellers queuing to get a bite of the David Sanders’ “home meal replacement” pie.

As Mr Sanders’ popularity started to blossom, Governor Ruby Laffoon made him an official Kentucky Colonel in 1935, in recognition of his incredible culinary contributions to the state - and so began the legacy of the iconic Colonel.

Business was booming, and Colonel Sanders moved to a larger premises across the road from the service station to increase his capacity. In a few short years, his restaurant was listed in Dune Hines’ renowned culinary journal: Adventures in Good Eating. It was also there that the Colonel put together his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.

Featured Image VIA


Image VIA

Life is filled with unexpected twists, turns, potholes and curveballs - and in Colonel Sanders’ case - this came in the form of a new local interstate highway being built. As a direct result of the new road, the traffic and passing diners were taken away from him from his and business began to dwindle at an alarming rate. At the age of 65, all the Colonel was left with a welfare cheque and his secret fried chicken recipe.

It took a lot more than bankruptcy to keep Sanders down in the dirt and in 1955, with faith in the quality of his product; the Colonel devoted all of his time to developing his chicken franchising venture. In less than ten years, the determined cook had over 600 KFC franchises in the US and Canada.

From this little culinary acorn grew a mighty international chicken empire, with countless families tucking into the Colonel's by then famous recipe across the globe - and this secret blend of 11 herbs and spices is still used today. Almost all of us must have either eaten a KFC or come across one in our lives and wondered what is in the Colonel's secret recipe.

Until his death in 1980, the Colonel travelled 250,000 miles a year to visit KFC restaurants the world over and in the end, his face became a central part of the KFC brand.

The story of the Colonel just goes to show that if you’re thinking of starting a dream business or making a big change to your career, it is never is too late. After all, Colonel Harland David Sanders started from scratch at retirement age - and it worked out pretty well for him in the end.

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