65 Years to finally taste good!!!

You must have spent most of your life lusting after something or another. Maybe it was someone driving a Bugatti, and you said I want one too, maybe one day I’ll buy the Marriott Hotel Chain. Well, if you really did then kudos to you. Dream big!!! However if you are sitting on your sofa, munching chips and watching the TV the whole day thinking the same, then you definitely get a minute of silence for your guts.

So the guy today I’m gonna be talking about started small, found a job, changed many of them, tried to make his daily living. Just a normal guy like your next door neighbor. But what will make Colonel Sanders different from your neighbor is that he founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken, KFC if you would, franchising his secret recipe after being rejected for 1009 times. Munch on that, will you!!! And I haven’t even told you the age when he started this. So if you are thinking of retiring, think again. Because Colonel was 65 when he started KFC.

Born on September 9, 1890 in Henryville, Indiana, Harland David Sanders life was right in the middle of the great depression, world wars and rise and fall of empires. His father was a farmer until he broke his leg who eventually died of a fever forcing Sander’s mother to work in a tomato cannery. Here Sander had his first taste of cooking where he cooked bread, vegetables for his siblings and even went ahead to improve the meat, echoing his future. Sander’s started working at the small age of 10 as a farmhand. At 13 , he dropped out of school  due to what I call the complicated relationship with the algebra. He left home and took to painting horse carriages.

Sander’s worked and constantly changed jobs over the years which included conductor for Streetcar Company, blacksmith helper, ash pan cleaner of steam engines, fireman, and laborer at the railways. He even falsified his DOB and enlisted in the US army and was honorably discharged in 1907. I think separating the time factor, everyone today is also constantly changing jobs, moving from one to another, trying to find a better one, or maybe having no option after getting fired! But that ok, it happens. Gotta move forward, ya know. Same was with Sander’s. He was fired as the fireman after his brawl with a colleague. Also after studying law in evening classes and practicing law successfully for 3 years, this career also met with the same fate when he went ahead and brawled with his own client and that too in the courtroom. Temper! Temper! Mr Sanders!! So he had to move back to his mother and worked as a laborer. Later he got a job selling insurance and yes! was fired again for his insubordination. Are you guys finding a pattern here and maybe thinking about your secret job quitting fantasy.

The coming years were when he finally realised to be his own man and tried his hand at various ventures. He established a ferry boat company with help and became a minority shareholder. It was an instant success(finally!). He also took a job becoming secretary at the Chamber of Commerce in Columbus but resigned admitting to himself that he was not very good at it. He also set up lamp manufacturing company cashing in the ferry boat co. shares. The venture kinda failed, you know startups risks and all. So after this failure he went to work as a salesman. He lost that too. Not his fault though! The company had to close its plant. He then ran a service station. Going with his previous luck, the station too closed due to the Great Depression.

I guess you guys get the flow how most of his life went. So coming to the food most of you are waiting for. He was offered a rent free service station in Kentucky in return for a percentage of the sales. It was here where he began serving his chicken dishes and various others. He eventually opened a restaurant, which became popular locally and was praised by critics too. He even finalized his secret recipe for frying chicken in pressure fryer which took less time and in later years got it patented too. With the onset of World War II, the place was forced to be closed. Realising his vocation in food industry, he ran cafeterias for the Government. In 1950, he was re-commissioned as ‘Kentucky Colonel’ by his friend, Governor Lawrence Wetherby.

Coming to the good finger lickin’ part, Sander’s franchised his secret recipe in 1952 to the city’s largest restaurants in Utah. The sales trippled, his chicken provided the secret weapon against the competitors. With this success others joined the fray franchising the concept and Sanders got paid. Sanders then travelled the US looking for other restaurants. He along with his second wife opened their new restaurant and their company headquarters in Shelbyville in 1959 and continued visiting restaurants offering to cook and negotiating franchise rights. Facing 1009 rejections, the time finally came when the restaurants came to him instead. He ran the company with Claudia, his wife who mixed and shipped the spices. The franchise saw its height of success and was one of the first fast food chains to expand internationally in Canada, England, Mexico and Jamaica by the 1960’s. Today you don’t need to imagine the reach, you just need to get out of your house wherever you are and Ta-da!!! Oh yes, one thing I forgot is the age- Sander was 65 at the beginning of his journey of KFC. So, people out there waiting for instant success like instant Maggi, its tough luck out there.

When the company became overwhelming for him at 73 after huge expansions in more than 600 locations, he sold the Corporation for $2 millions becoming a salaried ambassador. He became the face of the company appearing on TV commercials and making appearances. And was also respected in the culinary community. His journey didn’t stop and he still had a complicated relationship with his company having new troubles but that didn’t stop him from ever giving up. He finally died at the age of 90 due to acute leukemia.

Hardships, changing jobs, marriages, wars, great depression, Sander’s went through it all and came out successful after having to wait for more than half of his life and struggling to make it big in this world. If he can, why can’t you!!!

PS – Next time when you are sitting in KFC, munching on his recipes, just look at his picture on the company logo and remember this story, and strive to be something more.

The Mighty Athena

Hey Peeps, I'm currently pursuing Masters in English. And yes, as the blog suggests I too am going through the sad, confused, happy, exciting and adventurous part of life. I am writing this blog hoping to make a little difference in someone's life and bringing a little ray of hope into it.

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3 Responses

  1. Gurpreet kaur says:

    Hi Richa, ur stories are really very inspirational.. thanku so much for sharing this valuable stuff..

  2. Surbhi jain says:

    Your articles inspires me to have patience. Thank you!!

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