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Colonel David Sanders: KFC Founder, Story & Death

David Sanders was the business man, famously known for founding Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). KFC is an American fast food chicken restaurant having many branches throughout many countries.


David Sanders
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Colonel Sanders was born on 9th September 1890 in the Henryville, Indiana (United State). His full name was Harland David Sanders. David Sanders’s father worked on 80 acre of land while Mother was a homemaker. David Sanders was the eldest brother among three children of his parents. But one fine summer day, his father had fever so severe that died the same day. At the age of 5, he lost his father. Due to this sudden tragedy, responsibilities of his sister and brother came upon him.

His mother started working in the canning factory and arranged additional money by sewing clothes at night. Sometimes, his mother was busy in making living for them thus, he used to cook food for his siblings. By the age of seven, he became good at cooking and he cooked meat enthusiastically. To support his family, he also worked in a farm as a worker.

In 1902, David Sanders’s mother married to William Broaddus and then their whole family moved to Greenwood, Indiana. David Sanders was not comfortable with his new father and they often fight with each other. When he turned 13, he left his home and started making his own living. During those times he painted horse carriages and also worked as a farmhand.

With the help of his uncle, he found the job of conductor in the New Albany, Indiana. He also worked in U.S. Army for one year (1906-07). David Sanders never loosed hope and kept on finding better living conditions for himself. Then he found a job in Northern Alabama Railways as an ash pan cleaner in which, after sometime, he got promotion and shifted to work as a fireman.


Colonel david sanders
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David Sanders switched many jobs and did errands of work. In 1929, he established the gas station along a route in Corbin, Kentucky. Demand of food by the travelers, gave him an idea to open a restaurant for them near gas station. There, he served fried chicken, biscuits, ham and vegetables.

Customers showed a good interest in his dishes and this led him to open a bigger restaurant. In 1930, popularity of his restaurant increased when it was listed in “Adventures of good eating”.

Governor Ruby Laffoon was so impressed by his work that he named him as a Colonel in 1935. From that day, he was named as Colonel Harland David Sanders. He kept on doing random experiment on his chicken recipe. In 1939, he invented a new method to cook chicken in nine minutes instead of waiting for 45 minutes. During World War II, he closed his restaurant due to less travelers.

In 1950, he started franchising his chicken business. He roamed across the U.S. to sign up the restaurant in the form of franchise so that they would pay him per chicken, which was made by his special recipe. His first franchisee named Pete Harman who signed for his secret recipe in 1952. Harman’s restaurant gained huge success with this franchise as well as gave him a winning edge over his competitors. Don Anderson, who worked under Harman gave the name ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’. After massive success in Harman’s business, many other restaurant started signing up franchise.

At the age of 65, Sanders needed to sell out his property because government planned to build a highway through Corbin. This led to decrease in price of his site and he sold his site to pay the debts. At this age he left with some of his savings and monthly security check of $105. After that, he moved to Shelbyville, Kentucky.


The biggest factor behind Colonel David Sanders’s success is his spirit of never giving up. Even at the age of 66, he kept on moving from one restaurant to other to convince them for his franchise. That was tough time for him as he visited many restaurants and they simply refused.

KFC Logo
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Due to his constant hard work, in 1960, he had 400 franchisees and the majority of restaurants started selling chicken with his name. Later, his franchisees kept on increasing and he started guarding his secret recipe.

David Sanders sold out his company to a group of investors in $2 Million of which he got $40,000 every year. This group involved John Y. Brown and Jack Massey. In 1966, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) went public. In 1969, number of franchisees got increased by 5,000 in U.S and 4,500 overseas. This way, Sanders earned huge amount of money. KFC was also mentioned in New York Stock Exchange.

David Sanders now started working as a brand ambassador for the KFC. KFC began to sell all items with his face appearance. He also worked as a spokesperson and started giving ads to promote his company.

In 1971, company was acquired by Heublein Inc. for $285 Million.


In 1980, David Sanders suffered with leukemia approximately for seven months. Then he died on 16th December 1980 in Shelbyville, Kentucky at the age of 90. In 1986, KFC came under PepsiCo, Inc. with the deal of $840 Million in 1986. Until now, Colonel David Sander’s face appeared on the Kentucky Fried Chicken’s products as a logo.


Life of David Sanders was not a creamy journey. He always struggled to find a better conditions for himself. One of the biggest success factor in his life was his thoughts of not giving up. Even at the age of 65, he kept on building his links for franchise to sell chicken made with his secret recipe.

During childhood, he understood his responsibilities towards his family and also took care of his siblings. He never feared to move forward in his life even at the tender age. He also worked as a farmhand and did lot of hard work to earn money. Once he said, “There are more to learn than the books. It’s your self-experience with doing things.” He advised to experience life to the fullest and to make best out of it.

KFC Founder
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