Is the KFC representative of the Kentucky kitchen
How Much Money Did Colonel Sanders Make From Kentucky Fried Chicken? Not as much as you suspect!
Editor in Chief: Emily_Wilcox, email
Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC. Peaceful goodness. Mashed potatoes and sauce. The cookies. For many people, KFC is comfort food. For the man who started it all, it was his passion. Harlan Sanders' path to becoming the man known for fried chicken was unlikely. He just found out he could sell fried chicken like crazy. From a simple gas station outlet to over 4,400 fried chicken restaurants in the United States, this is the story of how a sixth grade dropout came to be known as Colonel Sanders.
An entire generation of people now know that Colonel Sanders is just the face of a brand, but there was a time not so long ago when he was a living, breathing, speaking speaker on television commercials for Kentucky Fried Chicken. By all accounts, Harland Sanders was a foul, irascible man who was quick to take his ubiquitous cane to those who didn't cook his famous chicken quite to his liking.
Sanders' tortuous path to the business that would make him rich was shaped by the rapidly changing times in which he lived. Sanders worked a variety of jobs from railways to tire sales to a ferry company. He was a lawyer, amateur obstetrician, and sold gas lamps to farmers. It wasn't until he opened a gas station in the 1930s that became a roadside motel and restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, that he found his way and laid the foundation for his finger to lick a good fried chicken empire.
Harlan Sanders was born on September 9, 1890 on a farm in Henryville, Indiana. It was the turn of the century, and at that time only a small percentage of Americans made it through high school. Even President Grover Cleveland was a dropout - he left school at the age of 16. When Sanders was five, his father suddenly died and Harlan then had to help his mother take care of her family, which included two younger siblings. In the sixth grade, he dropped out of school to get a job.
Sanders' mother eventually remarried, and Harlan did not have a good relationship with his stepfather. As a result, he left home when he was twelve years old. Four years later, in 1906, 16-year-old Sanders lied about his age and joined the army. He was sent to Cuba but released four months later. Obviously, Sanders never achieved the rank of colonel with this short period of service. It was bestowed upon him in 1935 by Kentucky Governor Ruby Laffoon, who gave Sanders the rank of colonel in recognition of his charitable work and the contributions his chicken made to the state kitchen.
Long before he was known for his chicken, Sanders had a number of jobs - not always successful. According to books about him, Sanders was a lazy, sullen, hot-headed man who, while hardworking, was often at odds with his employers. Over the years, Sanders has been a farm laborer, an army mule tender, a locomotive fireman, a railroad worker, a lawyer (at a time when lawyers weren't admitted to the bar), an insurance agent, a ferry, a tire dealer, an amateur - Obstetricians, a political candidate, a gas station operator and a motel operator. What Sanders lacked, he focused on drive and ambition.
JOHANNES EISELE / AFP / Getty Images
However, the recurring theme in his life was that he had a hard time keeping a job for long periods of time. He was often fired for getting into fist fights at work. And while he was always able to support his family, his constant layoffs bore his wife Josephine. She took her children and left him for a while because Sanders could not stay busy for a considerable time. He was fired from the railroad, fired after engaging in a fist fight with his client in front of the judge, and being fired by an insurance agent. He started an acetylene lightning company just as electricity became more available and failed. He was successful as a tire dealer, but that career also ended when he destroyed his car and couldn't afford anything else. He opened a Standard Oil filling station in 1927, but it was wiped out by the Great Depression.
Sanders has not had an easy career in his career.
In 1930 Sanders started another gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. He decided to eat something from a small table in the train station to make more money. This was the seed that Kentucky Fried Chicken grew from. At the same time, Sanders began working as an amateur obstetrician. At the time, many workers in Corbin were part of President Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration - a plan designed as part of the New Deal to get Americans back to work after the Depression. Sanders realized that many of the men had pregnant women but no money to pay for a doctor. He had a bucket of scissors, gauze, and petroleum jelly ready so that if he called he could run off and deliver a baby.
Meanwhile, Sanders expanded his gas station and small kitchen into a motel and a legal restaurant. Known as Sanders Court and Café, the restaurant sold fried chicken, steak, ham, and cookies.
Sanders' bad luck was not over. His restaurant burned down on Thanksgiving Day in 1939. Sanders converted the restaurant into a 140-seat facility. It was also at this point that he began to pressurize his chicken, a method he later patented. Sanders was nearing retirement age and another obstacle was put in his way that would put him out of business threatened.
The freeway that was being built would divert traffic from Sander's restaurant. The cafe was now 20 years old and had regular business. In 1956, Harlan Sanders auctioned his restaurant for $ 75,000 ($ 658,009 adjusted for inflation). That money paid his taxes and outstanding bills. Harlan Sanders was 65 years old.
Danny La / Getty Images
Sanders had his social security checks to go on living and not much more. It was then an idea that hit him and the KFC we know today took shape. Sanders was an early pioneer in franchising. He had experimented with franchising even before selling his restaurant. His first franchise was a successful operation in Louisville. But when faced with retirement without enough money, he made franchising his main focus.
Sanders began to drive back and forth across the country with his pressure cooker and sacks of spices in his suitcase. He often slept in his car. His mission was to sell his secret recipe for his fried chicken. He sold his original spice blend to his franchisees and trained them to cook the chicken in his own special way. He asked his franchisees to keep track of the number of chickens sold and paid them a nickel for each. As part of the franchise business, Sanders also stocks kitchen appliances that he sold to restaurants at wholesale prices. Every restaurant should have a sign in a prominent location that read:
"With Colonel Sanders Recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken"
Pete Harman, a Salt Lake City franchisee, decided to dedicate his restaurant fully to the Sanders Fried Chicken and named his place Kentucky Fried Chicken. At that time, the focus also shifted to restaurant operations.
Sanders did not charge a franchise fee, which was unusual back then and of course no longer belongs today. Indeed, Harlan Sanders told Ray Kroc that it was completely wrong to charge McDonald’s franchise restaurant fees. Kroc disagreed, and as long as Sanders owned Kentucky Fried Chicken, he refused to charge a franchise fee.
Sanders has also monitored the quality levels of its franchisees. It wasn't uncommon for him to take his cane to someone who was caught not doing everything by his standards.
By 1963 there were more than 600 Kentucky Fried Chicken locations. In 1964, Sanders sold the company for $ 2 million ($ 15 million Adjusted for inflation). By 1970, Kentucky Fried Chicken had expanded to 3,000 restaurants in 48 countries.
Even though Sanders sold the company, he wasn't ready to let go. Sanders had a Colonel's theatrical figure to attract guests and franchisees. Sanders continued to keep his beard and wore the iconic white suit as the company's paid spokesperson and brand ambassador. During the 1970s, Sanders appeared in television commercials for the company. Colonel Sanders became the most famous brand ambassador in the world.
However, relationships with the company that ran Kentucky Fried Chicken became strained when Sanders became unhappy with the direction it was taking. KFC's headquarters moved to Tennessee for a while, they started charging a franchise fee and turned the five cents per chicken license to a percentage of sales. None of that went well with Sanders.
So Sanders did what he knew best. He started over. Or at least he tried. He decided to open a seated restaurant called Colonel Sanders' Dinner House. The KFC folks wouldn't do that, however. The company argued that they bought the rights to his name. Sanders renamed it Colonel's Lady's Dinner House and KFC insisted it had bought the rights to Colonel as well. Sanders sued KFC for $ 122 million, alleging the company was affecting its ability to run its new restaurant. The company objected to Sanders for violating the KFC trademarks. You settled the case in 1975.
That wasn't the only complaint. A franchisee in Bowling Green, Kentucky, sued Sanders for defamation after the Colonel complained that the franchisee's sauce tasted like wallpaper paste. The court dismissed this action in 1978. There is no word on whether or not the court tried the sauce and agreed with Sanders.
Despite the lawsuits, Sanders remained involved with KFC almost until his death. In fact, he traveled to Japan on a promotional tour for KFC in 1979 when he was 89 years old.
Sanders lived modestly and donated much of his wealth to charities, including the Salvation Army. He didn't leave his family with a large estate.
Harlan Sanders died on December 16, 1980. He was 90 years old. At the time of his death, it was worth it $ 3.5 million ($ 10.1 million Adjusted for inflation). Maybe not as much as you'd think, given that KFC's annual sales now top $ 23 billion. At least his name and face will live forever!
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