Colonel Sanders: Real American Icon

Colonel Sanders was a real living person who invented KFC. The real Colonel was larger than life, and has recently been played by several super-famous actors, which is why it can be hard to believe he existed. Well you better believe it pal, because he existed and he was awesome. Read all about his adventures below.

 

During his tenure as KFC proprietor and founder, and world’s greatest chicken salesman, Colonel Sanders was a regular household name, appearing in commercials, recording albums with his mandolin band, and generally being a national treasure. But in the years following his death in 1980, younger folks only saw the Colonel’s illustrated face on KFC buckets and restaurants. To a newer generation of fried chicken lovers, the Colonel was considered a mascot and a symbol of KFC, and not a real person who actually wore a white woolen suit and string tie every day. Today, when you start typing “is Colonel” into a Google search bar, “is Colonel Sanders real?” is the second suggested phrase that pops up, right after “is Colonel Sanders related to Bernie Sanders?” (The answer to that one is no.) Considering the extraordinary life Colonel Sanders lived, it’s no surprise that his persona could take on a mythical, fairy-tale quality. But like our chicken, Colonel Sanders was 100% real and 100% awesome.

Like our chicken, Colonel Sanders was 100% real and 100% awesome.

Here are the details of his amazing life:

  • Colonel Harland David Sanders was born September 9, 1890, in Henryville, Indiana.
  • He quit school in the sixth grade to earn money for his mother, brother, and sister after his father died.
  • In 1906, at 16 years old, he lied about his age so he could enlist in the army.
  • He started working for the railways in 1907, first as a blacksmith and then as a fireman.
  • From 1920 to 1930, Sanders started a ferryboat company, worked as an insurance salesman, a lighting salesman, a lawyer, a tire salesman, an obstetrician, and a secretary at the Chamber of Commerce in Indiana.
  • In 1930, he opened a service station and added fried chicken to the menu.
  • Governor Ruby Laffoon loved Sanders’ chicken so much that he made Sanders a Kentucky Colonel.
  • The Colonel didn’t begin franchising his restaurant until 1955, when he was 65 years old.
  • After selling the franchise in 1964, Colonel Sanders remained the company’s symbol. He visited KFC restaurants into his later years, inspecting the quality of the food and sometimes tossing gravy on the floor if it didn’t meet his high standards.
  • Sanders was diagnosed with acute leukemia in June 1980 and died of pneumonia in Louisville, Kentucky, on December 16, 1980 at the age of 90.
  • The Colonel remained active until the month before his death, appearing before crowds in his signature white woolen suit and string tie, which he was also buried in. His body was laid in state in the rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. More than 1,000 people attended the beloved Colonel’s funeral.

 

Whew. So, was Colonel Sanders real? You bet. As you can see, his life was too unusual and fascinating to be fiction. The Colonel was a real, self-made man whose success symbolizes the promise of the American Dream. Though no longer with us, the Colonel’s very real spirit lives on in anyone who values hard work, grit, self-determination, and delicious fried chicken made the Hard Way.

 

Colonel Harland Sanders when he was a baby
Colonel Harland Sanders when he was a baby.

 

Harland Sanders when he was young
Harland Sanders when he was young.

 

Colonel Sanders working for Southern Railroad
Colonel Sanders working for Southern Railroad.

 

Colonel Sanders visiting a Kentucky horse farm
Colonel Sanders visiting a Kentucky horse farm.

 

Colonel Sanders inspecting new KFC restaurant
Colonel Sanders inspecting a new KFC restaurant.

 

Colonel Harland Sanders celebrating his birthday
Colonel Harland Sanders celebrating his birthday.

 

Colonel Sanders celebrating his birthday in Corbin Kentucky
Colonel Sanders celebrating his birthday in Corbin Kentucky.

 

Colonel Harland Sanders visit to Cairo
Colonel Harland Sanders visits Cairo.

Attack of the KFC Spider Chicken Myth

There is a wild myth that KFC uses “spider chickens”—chickens that have been genetically modified to have 8 legs and 6 wings. I can’t believe I have to say this, but here we are, Americans: spider chickens are not real. Furthermore, KFC never uses genetically modified chickens of any kind. You can read more crazy stuff about spider chickens below.

 

Of all the wacky Internet myths that have circulated about KFC, this one was outlandish enough to be almost entertaining.

 

You might want to sit down for this.

 

A handful of companies spread the disinformation that we used genetically modified chickens that had eight legs and six wings, a Frankenstein-ed monster of a chicken that would give us maximum output and more bang for the cluck. There was not an ounce of truth to this. This imaginary fowl was referred to as a “spider chicken,” due to its arachnoid surplus of legs. The modern art of graphic design made it possible for those spreading the rumor to create an image of what this bird might look like, an image that would give the surrealist painters a run for their money.

 

We source 100% real chicken of the absolutely non-genetically engineered variety.

 

We might have had a good chuckle over all this, except for the fact that it gave some of our customers pause and made them wonder what the truth was. Our job is to provide a delicious and high-quality product, and that means we source 100% real chicken—of the absolutely non-genetically engineered variety—from trusted US farms. The same as you would buy from your grocery store. Then, using the Colonel’s time-honored recipe, we fry it up and serve it fresh in our restaurants.

 

We take our job of making the world’s best fried chicken very seriously. So seriously that this case went to court, where the rumors were thoroughly debunked and shown to be as false as they were silly. As with all chicken sold in the US, KFC chickens are bred using age-old breeding techniques to produce healthy chickens and the high-quality products our customers expect. Eight-legged chickens are the stuff of nightmares and sci-fi movies, not our delicious home-style meals. Just ask the people who know best:

 

The KFC Rat Hoax Debunked

A social post supposedly depicting a fried rat being served to a KFC customer made the rounds a little while back. It should surprise no one to hear that was entirely made up and untrue. I know, I know, something fake on the Internet—stop the presses. You can read more about how it never really happened below.

 

You don’t build a legacy like KFC has over 75 years without having some outlandish rumors created about you. Just ask Walt Disney’s cryogenically frozen head! KFC has endured a few similarly absurd myths, including the Great KFC Mutant Chicken Myth and claims that KFC chickens have added hormones and steroids to make them bigger. Then there was the 2015 KFC fried rat hoax, in which a customer posted an image on Facebook of KFC chicken supposedly in the shape of a rat, implying that KFC had served him a deep-fried rat instead of a chicken tender. Approximately 22,000 people shared this image. This was followed by a video post that 9,000 people shared on their Facebook walls, garnering over 1 million views. Even reputable news sources throughout the world picked up the story! Because if it’s on the Internet, it must be true, right?

 

Of course this claim is false and just plain nonsense. We’re dedicated to quality and preparing chicken the Hard Way, which is Colonel Sanders’ time-honored approach to making delicious chicken. First, we source our chickens from American farms. Then our chickens are inspected by the USDA and must pass 30 quality checks before they can even be delivered to our kitchens. In fact, KFC and its parent company, Yum! Brands, maintain industry-leading food safety programs, striving to have the safest, highest-quality food supply and preparation in the business. Finally, our cooks freshly prepare fried chicken every day, in restaurant, following an extensive multistep process, which includes hand-breading each individual piece.

We always serve 100% real chicken made the Hard Way.

Ultimately, like other rumors that preceded it, the KFC fried-rat story was roundly debunked. We even handed the alleged fried rat over to an independent lab for testing, which confirmed that it was, indeed, 100% KFC chicken tender, and not a fried rat. This was no surprise to us—we always serve 100% real chicken made the Hard Way. So when you order KFC chicken, we guarantee that you’re getting delicious, crispy, flavorful, and juicy chicken—and nothing else.

The Colonel’s Secret Blend of 11 Herbs and Spices

One of the biggest trade secrets in the world is my 11 herbs & spices for my Original Recipe chicken. There is simply no way I am going to let it fall into the hands of my lazy imitators, so I have taken a lot of intense precautions to ensure it never does. You can read the specifics of how you will never be able to steal it below.  

 

What is it about KFC Original Recipe chicken that makes you lick your fingers, smack your lips, and reach for the next piece? Well, it’s the crisp skin and juicy meat in every bite created by the once-patented pressure-frying process, as well as the Colonel’s secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.

 

Colonel Sanders’ Original Recipe® is a cornerstone of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and it ranks among America’s most valuable trade secrets. It’s so valuable that KFC recently built a brand-new, high-tech home for the Colonel’s handwritten Original Recipe from 1940. It’s stored in a digital safe that weighs more than 770 pounds and is encased in two feet of concrete with a 24-hour video and motion-detection surveillance system.

 

Not even the company that produces the blend knows the exact formulation.

 

And the secret blend of KFC’s 11 herbs and spices is so secret that not even the company that produces the blend knows the exact formulation. The spice blend is shipped from different locations in the United States before the final blending. We’ve got to keep it a secret from those imitators creating KFC copycat recipes that just don’t come close to the real deal.

 

Now, that’s not the easy way to season your chicken. In fact, it’s the Hard Way. But we believe in hard work, attention to detail, and going the extra mile. And since you’ve read this far, we should reward you. Click here for the Colonel’s secret recipe.

KFC says “Chicken, Chicken, Chicken.” The real history of the KFC name change.

Modern myths are weird. One of them says that we started using our initials, KFC, because we couldn’t use the word “chicken” anymore. Absurd. Chicken, chicken, chicken. See? We are still called Kentucky Fried Chicken; we started using KFC ’cause it was fewer syllables. Continue reading below to have this myth further dispelled.

 

In 1991, Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC. Why, after 39 successful years, would a world-famous restaurant chain change its name?

 

Maybe because KFC is just easier to say with your mouth full. Or maybe KFC fits better on signs. In reality, we wanted to let our customers know that we had more for them to enjoy than just fried chicken, and many were already calling us KFC, as it was much easier to say.

 

Truth is, we didn’t do a great job at explaining the name change, which left the door open for folks to get creative with the reason. And boy did they! Shortly after the name change, an email chain letter—it was 1991, remember—began to spread the rumor that Kentucky Fried Chicken used genetically modified chickens and was forced to remove the word “chicken” from its name.

We've always used 100% real chicken

We can put those rumors to rest. We’ve always used 100% real chicken. Our chickens come from American family farms—the same farms that supply the brands you would buy at any grocery store—and are raised without artificial hormones or steroids, which is a federal regulation.

 

So let’s get straight to the point: Can KFC say “chicken”? We’re still Kentucky Fried Chicken®, registered trademark and all. We continue to show our pride in fried and follow the Colonel’s high standards for frying chicken, even after 75 years. Not only can KFC definitely say “chicken,” KFC means the world’s best fried chicken.

 

KFC Chickens Are Free of Artificial Hormones and Steroids

You don’t need to be a Colonel to know that making great fried chicken starts with great chickens. And I’m very particular about our chickens, ensuring they don’t get treated with artificial hormones or steroids. You can read more about it below.

 

There’s a common misconception that chicken restaurants like KFC are trying to raise larger chickens to make more profit. This notion surely fed into the Great KFC Mutant Chicken Myth—the Internet hoax that claimed that KFC used “mutant chickens”—as well as false claims that KFC bulks up chickens with added hormones and steroids. This couldn’t be further from the truth since KFC actually pays a premium price per pound for smaller chickens than you’ll find in your local grocery store because we believe they are far more tender and flavorful. Furthermore, FDA regulations prohibit adding hormones and steroids to all poultry in the United States, and KFC chickens are USDA inspected for quality before they’re delivered to our kitchens.

THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, “DOES KFC USE ARTIFICIAL HORMONES?’ IS A RESOUNDING NO!

So the answer to the question, “Does KFC use artificial hormones or steroids?” is a resounding no! At Kentucky Fried Chicken you won’t find any artificial steroids or hormones in our chicken. In fact, less than 10% of chickens meet the high standards for KFC poultry. Our chickens are raised humanely on US farms overseen by respected and established poultry producers like Tyson Foods, Inc. In addition, our chickens must pass 30 KFC quality checks between US farms and your dinner table.

 

Unlike with chicken buckets and American flags, bigger doesn’t always equal better, which is why you can rest assured that KFC serves 100% real chicken, free of added hormones and steroids—Colonel Quality Guaranteed.

The Colonel Is Back

KFC Embarks on Re-Colonelization Effort

I founded Kentucky Fried Chicken because I love fried chicken made the Hard Way, which is the best way. Unfortunately, things have gotten a little out of hand lately, so I decided to come back and set things straight. That’s the short way to put it. Keep on reading if you want the long version.

 

At Kentucky Fried Chicken, many of our customers say things haven’t been the same since the Colonel passed, and they’re right—but today marks the end of that. In 1971, a decline in customer satisfaction led to Colonel Sanders realigning the entire organization with the values on which he originally founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. This “Re-Colonelization” effort got KFC back on track, but over the years, our faithfulness to the Colonel’s rigorous process for making quality fried chicken has waned. So we’ve brought him back for another Re-Colonelization to ensure we live up to his high standards that put KFC on the map.

I decided to come back and set things straight

In addition to maintaining the Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices, Re-Colonelization means that every restaurant returns to the Colonel’s once-patented process for making his Original Recipe chicken, which continues to include pressure frying, as opposed to the more commonly used open frying method. The result is the uniquely flavorful, juicy fried chicken that is familiar to longtime KFC fans.

 

Re-Colonelization extends to the look of our restaurants, as well. Seventy percent of our 4,000+ restaurants will be revamped and refreshed by 2017. The new design is inspired by the Colonel’s original restaurant opened in 1952, so the look is a modern take on a classic café style with bold, clean lines and the Colonel’s face and legacy prominently displayed. These revitalized KFCs will also feature chalkboards that will be updated daily with the name of the farm that raised the chicken for the day’s meal.

KFC_Recolonelizatoin_Restaurant

Over the past six months, we’ve invested 100,000 hours in retraining our employees—a veritable Kentucky Fried continuing education. We’ve held 43 Re-Colonelization training events across the country in an effort to retrain every single KFC employee in cooking chicken the Colonel’s patented way—with 27 steps in more than 25 minutes. These team members, a number of them now deemed “Lieutenant Colonel Cooks,” returned to their restaurants to retrain all their staff. More than 20,000 KFC employees have now been retrained in making Kentucky Fried Chicken the Colonel’s way. The result is a return to the unique cooking process that made the Colonel so proud and KFC so famous. To everyone who grew up with KFC and has turned away in recent years, we invite you back to try the delicious chicken you remember.

The Great KFC Mutant Chicken Myth

Nothing makes me madder than a bunch of unfounded rumors about where KFC chickens come from. So… short answer: all KFC chickens are born and raised right here in the USA. Long answer: read below.

 

The Internet is good for lots of things: cat videos, questionable medical diagnoses, and wildly imaginative urban legends, including the KFC mutant chicken myth. This myth has been perpetuated over several decades by a widely circulated email hoax. The hoax claimed that Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC because it was forced to eliminate the word “chicken” from its brand name—purportedly because KFC meat came from “mutant chickens” with extra legs and no beaks.

 

We can set the record straight: no mutated or genetically engineered chickens are involved in making our delicious KFC chicken. Just 100% real chicken from US farms, which have to pass over 30 quality checks and USDA inspection before being hand-prepared by one of our cooks. Ultimately, less than 10% of chickens meet KFC’s high standards for quality, which includes no artificial hormones or steroids—a federal regulation.

No mutated chickens are involved in making our delicious fried chicken

As with all chicken sold in the United States, KFC chickens are bred using age-old techniques to produce healthy birds and the high-quality products that our customers expect. They’re also raised humanely in a cage-free environment on trusted American family farms—the same that supply your local supermarket—based on standards established in consultation with our Animal Welfare Advisory Council. In addition, KFC suppliers must adhere to parent company Yum! Brands’ Supplier Code of Conduct, which helps maintain the ethical sourcing and supply of our food.

 

So let’s put the Great KFC Mutant Chicken Myth to rest, shall we? Though urban legends about KFC mutated chicken are good for a laugh, on a KFC chicken farm, the chicken is 100% real—just like the Colonel’s time-honored secret recipe.