Dave Trott: A kernel of truth

Harland David Sanders was born in Indiana in 1890.

In 1903 he got a job painting horse-drawn carriages.

In 1904 he became a farm hand.

In 1905 a streetcar conductor.

In 1906 he joined the army and drove a team of mules in Cuba.

In 1907 he became a blacksmith in Alabama.

In 1908 a fireman on the railroad.

In 1909 a labourer in Tennessee.

In 1911 a lawyer in Arkansas.

In 1913 he was selling life insurance in Indiana.

In 1924, for the first time, he moved to Kentucky and got a job.

He ran a Shell station and discovered the concept of franchising.

The more he sold, the more money he, and Shell, made.

Harland David Sanders loved the idea.

He began thinking of ways to get people to choose his station rather than the one across the street.

He started selling food: country style ham, chicken, and steak.

He began by selling it from his own kitchen table.

It was so successful he eventually bought the station across the street and began serving his food there.

In 1937 he opened a motel and restaurant selling his food next door.

Trade was so good that the Governor of Kentucky made him a "Colonel of Kentucky".

This was a purely honorary title given to any businessman who contributed to the good of the state.

The Governor made 5,000 "colonels" that year.

In 1952, aged 62, Sanders decided to try the franchise concept with his food.

He had a friend who owned a diner in Utah and he persuaded him that fried chicken would separate it off from the local hamburger joints.

And Sanders would get 5 cents for every chicken sold.

In order to make it a franchise he needed a brand.

He decided to call it "Kentucky Fried Chicken" to make it sound different to ordinary fried chicken.

He used the line "finger lickin’ good" to give it the feel of southern down-home quality.

And he decided that he himself would become the symbol that sold the franchise.

So he began to dress like a Southern, civil-war era, plantation owner.

He called himself "Colonel Sanders" (although he’d only ever been a private in the army).

He wore a white suit and a white hat, he wore a string tie and carried a cane.

He grew a goatee, which he dyed white to match his hair.

And everyone accepted him as "The Colonel".

Despite the fact that this was 1950s America, and no one had dressed like that for 100 years.

And so no one questioned "the Colonel’s secret recipe" embodied the quality of "Kentucky Fried Chicken".

In fact it soon became America’s alternative to hamburgers.

"Colonel Sanders" travelled everywhere promoting the brand.

By 1965 there were 600 franchises.

In 1969 the company was listed on the New York stock exchange.

In 1986 PepsiCo Inc bought the company.

Today KFC has 37,000 outlets in 110 countries.

And "Colonel Sanders" is still on every box, every bucket, every sign, every napkin. 

As Harland David Sanders knew, all you’re ever selling is yourself.