KFC: How Col. Harland Sanders Found Buckets Of Success

Today, KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of the most famous food franchises worldwide. But it went through numerous ups and downs before it got adequately established as a global restaurant and outlet. Back in the early 1900s, KFC was merely a part of a poor farm boy’s big dream.

Different investors might have owned KFC over time. However, the most significant contribution is that of Harland Sanders, who saw his dream come true when he was in his 60s. It is beautiful and motivational how a person continued to toil to see his dreams even after having surpassed the early years of their life.

The story of KFC is also the story of Colonel Sanders and how he made it big in the world. It is Colonel Sander’s part in the history and rise of KFC that makes it epic.

The Humble Beginnings Of Harland Sanders

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Harland Sanders was born in 1890 in Henryville, Indiana. His family consisted of his mother, father, and a few younger siblings. His father used to work on a farm, and when Harland was still very young, his father passed away. This was devastating for the entire family, especially his mother. She had to take up odd jobs like sewing and peeling vegetables to support the family.

Since Harland was the oldest among the children, his mother wanted him to support the family and look after his younger siblings. When he was hardly ten years old, he started working at the farm to mind the cattle for a sum of $2. Being a child, he got easily distracted by the animals and soon lost his job. This was only the beginning of a life of rejections and getting fired at positions before Colonel Sanders finally managed to become independently employed as KFC’s owner.

Harland’s mother was crestfallen because she was loaded with too much work. Meanwhile, the young Harland would stay up at night pursuing his interest in cooking. Sanders dreamt of making it big in life somewhere around that point. But adversity soon struck him when his mother remarried a man who was not fond of stepchildren. Sanders realized that he had to step out and make a better life for himself.

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Multiple Rejections And Setbacks

Colonel Harland Sanders got fired multiple times in his life. Since he was not good at academics, he decided to set on a journey and find himself a means of living. He worked a set of odd jobs, including that of an insurance salesman, fireman, steamboat operator, lawyer, and tire seller. However, he got fired so many times that his wife, Josephine, decided to leave him.

His sense of dejection made Sanders more courageous and ready to take on adventures. He decided to hitchhike his way to different places in search of other opportunities. In the course of this adventure, he came across the owner of an automobile oil and gas company, Standard Oil and Co., who, after listening to his tale, offered him a job at a gas station. He accepted immediately, and after a series of hardships, he started making a good sales income of about $12,000 every month. The locals of that place were loyal to the previous gas station officer, and Sanders soon made his way to their hearts. But Harland had to quit when the Great Depression hit America.

The Beginning of Sanders’ Cooking Career

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After that tremendous financial blow, Harland could only be restored to another gas station in Corbin under the company, Shell. This was in 1930 when Colonel Sanders started cooking meals for customers to earn some extra cash. He had a table for only six customers where he cooked hamburgers, beans, and fried chicken. Sanders started noticing that fried chicken was a big hit among the customers.

Sanders writes in his autobiography that “Fried chicken qualifies as the food of hospitality in North America; every dish is regional except fried chicken which is universal.” When tourists started flocking from other states to grab a bite of this famous fried chicken, Sanders thought of expanding the food business.

He bought a motel where he could seat about 142 guests and serve his food. This was going quite well, but Sanders was against deep-frying the chicken for faster delivery. He began pre-cooking the chicken from home, but this led to a lot of wastage. Finally, with the invention of an advanced cooker, his problem was solved.

Establishing KFC In The Late 1900s

Colonel Sanders could not get KFC established until he was in his 60s. His motel business failed when the highway became less frequented by people. One of his food outlets also burned down during a Thanksgiving celebration. Sanders was left with no other option than selling everything and managing on old-age insurance of $105 per month.

But Sanders was willing to retire without having realized his dream. He hit the road with his pressure cooker and 11 special herbs, which was his trade secret. He stopped at different restaurants on the way and asked them to let him cook chicken for their customers and to pay him if they liked the taste.

There were times when KFC’s founder slept in the backseat of his car and ate meals kindly offered by his friends. But this endeavor helped him popularize the food franchise all over America and Canada. Sanders was way past his prime age, and KFC, whom he treated like his child, was just entering its prime era.

In 1963, he hesitantly handed over KFC’s ownership to John Y Brown Jr for $2 million, which would be about $15.3 million in the present day. Brown had also grown up a farm boy like Sanders, and he promised Sanders to maintain a quality check on the food. Soon after, Sanders passed away at age 90.

KFC faced some slack after Sanders was no longer alive to be the face of it. However, it was back on its feet again and has been developed by different owners and investors over the years. Today KFC is one of the three Yum Brands besides Taco Bell And PizzaHut.

READ NEXT: Jack Ma: How A Struggling Student Created A $38 Billion Empire

Sources: Hook, Logically Answered, Business Insider, Snagajob

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