After three decades of having left his legacy to the world as the iconic creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colonel Harland Sanders is being re-introduced to the new generation via a new website.
KFC recently launched www.ColonelSanders.com, an online site that is dedicated to keeping the legacy of Colonel Harland Sanders by collecting videos, stories and photos about him from friends, family members or average Americans who met or knew him in the past.
Colonel Sanders’ face still graces the brand’s chicken buckets up until now, but the people behind the KFC figured its millions of customers have yet to know the story behind the man.
His cooking career started when he was required to cook for his family at age six, after which he held other jobs that ranged from being a streetcar conductor to selling insurance. All throughout his job experiences, his love for cooking never faded. In 1930, when he was 40, Sanders ran a service station in Corbin, KY and put on his chef apparel to offer his signature chicken to hungry travelers who drop-by to fill-up their gas tanks. He only served his customers in his adjacent living quarters, but when his customers grew in numbers he had to move to a 142-seat restaurant across the street to accommodate them.
He soon conceived the “home meal replacement,” whole meals he then called “Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week,” specifically designed for busy families. In 1935, he was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel for his role in developing the state’s cuisine. In the following decade, Colonel Sanders, in his savvy chef apparel, honed his secret blend of spices and herbs and the basic cooking system still employed at KFC today.
When he was 65, he was forced to close his restaurant due to the opening of a new interstate highway, and all he had with him was his fried chicken recipe and a Social Security check of $105. The KFC legend didn’t falter, hit the road and went into handshake arrangements with various restaurant operators who consented to sell his fried chicken. What started out as a dream stimulated by today’s Original Recipe, an unrelenting attitude and a Social Security check swelled into the world’s biggest chicken restaurant chain. Up until he passed away in 1980 at the age of 90, the Colonel made it a point to visit KFC restaurants around the world.
“Colonel Sanders’ achievements as well as his secret 11 herbs and spices recipe are our company’s cornerstones,” said KFC’s chief marketing officer Barry Westrum. “We are privileged to launch this undertaking to preserve the legacy and memory of our founder by gathering his stories from near and far. “
Other than being a legendary American entrepreneur, Colonel Sanders was also remembered to be a Southern gentleman. One of those who attest to this is Shirley Topmiller, his assistant who worked for him for 28 years before she retired.
“We are quite confident that there are a lot of stories waiting to be shared about the Colonel,” says Topmiller, who used to handle everything for him, from arranging his TV appearances to ordering his famous white suits. Now she is helping out to spearhead the campaign in upholding the legacy of her former boss, encouraging everyone who met the Colonel during his travels, saw him on TV or was told a story or two from a friend of a friend, to submit the stories to the online archive.
“We want to ensure that the future generation can understand the significant role he played in the history of their favorite chicken restaurant chain, and the motivation that he inspired in the heart of many Americans,” said Topmiller.
Now, what used to be a humble kitchen of a service station has grown into the world’s most popular chicken restaurant chain with 15,000 outlets in 109 countries and territories all over the world, serving some 12,000 million customers each day.