Was he real?
Yes! Harland David Sanders was born in September of 1890 in Henryville, Indiana.
Though, like in the GIF above of Norm Macdonald, many people have suited up to play the colonel.
Will the Real Colonel Sanders Please Take My Order?
The actual Colonel Harland Sander was the first public spokesperson for KFC. Though, to name a few, Jim Gaffigan, Billy Zane, Rob Lowe, Ray Liotta, Jason Alexander, Sean Astin and WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler have all donned the infamous white goatee/hair and glasses. Reba McEntire was the first female to play Colonel Sanders and Mario Lopez starred in a Lifetime Original mini-movie about Sanders.
He Didn’t Serve Chicken?
In 1930, Sanders owned a gas station in Corbin, Ketucky. He served meals to truck drivers on an old family dining room table he would wheel to the front of his service station. Ham and steak dinners were a favourite, but fried chicken wasn’t on the menu as it took too long to make.
Sanders opened a café across the street from his gas station and began to serve fried chicken. At this location in 1939, Sanders used pressure cookers to perfect a chicken recipe with his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.
Harland Sanders was a hothead who wasn’t afraid to fight. A local gas station rival named Matt Stewart was pissed that Sanders had painted advertisements on nearly every barn for miles around. When Sanders found out Stewart was painting over one of his signs for a second time, Sanders went down to confront him.
The Colonel Shot His Nemesis
With two Shell gas station executives in tow, Sanders went to confront Matt Stewart while he was in the act of painting over one of the Colonel’s signs. Stewart dropped his paintbrush, pulled out a gun, and killed Shell district manager Robert Gibson. The Colonel returned fire, hitting Stewart in the shoulder. Both men were arrested. Stewart was charged with murder and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. All charges against Sanders were dropped.
Was He an Actual Colonel?
Sanders did serve in the military but his title of colonel was an honorary one. In order to enlist in the Army, Sanders falsified his birth date. In 1935, Kentucky Governor Ruby Laffoon made Sanders an honorary colonel.
In 1949, after a second honorary commission by his friend Kentucky Governor Lawrence Wetherby, Sanders began to embrace the title.
What’s With All The White?
Colonel Sanders changed his appearance to try and look the part of a colonel. He grew out his facial hair and wore a black frock coat with a string tie. He later switched to a white suit to help hide flour stains and bleached his goatee to match his white hair.
Fighting in Court, Delivering Babies and Driving Steamboats?
Colonel Sanders practiced law, delivered babies and even operated a steamboat ferry that crossed the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana. His law career abated after he got in a courtroom brawl with a client.
Working Down to the Chicken Bone
At the age of 65, Sanders was mostly surviving off a monthly Social Security check of $105. This is when he incorporated Kentucky Fried Chicken and started to drive around the country signing up new franchisees.
Utah Fried Chicken
The first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise was actually in Utah. The Salt Lake City location, operated by the Colonel’s friend Pete Harman, is where the famous bucket container originated.
Cluck Rhymes with F@#k
Colonel Sanders was far from a Southern gentleman. He was notorious for being crusty and loved to swear up a storm, especially if he felt the quality of food served by franchisees wasn’t up to his standards.
Sanders Sued KFC
In 1964, Sanders sold Kentucky Fried Chicken which was then sold to a food company called Heublein in 1971. Colonel Sanders remained as the face of the company but soon felt the quality of KFC was dwindling. So, he sued them for $122M and made plans to open a new restaurant chain.
Cooler Chickens Prevailed
An out-of-court settlement was reached in Sanders’ lawsuit. In exchange for agreeing to stop bad-mouthing the food at KFC, Colonel Sanders was given $1M. He was also allowed to open a restaurant (Claudia Sanders Dinner House) and was offered the opportunity to provide cooking lessons to Heublein executives.
Did he Put a Curse on a Japanese Baseball Team?
To celebrate a 1985 championship, fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team tossed a statue of Colonel Sanders into an Osaka river. Dubbed the Curse of the Colonel the team went on a championship drought.
Can the Curse of the Colonel Be Lifted?
The Colonel statue was discovered in the Dōtonbori River on March 10, 2009. Though replacements were made, the statue was recovered missing its glasses and left hand. Some believe the only way the curse can be lifted is by returning The Colonel to his original form.