Search: young colonel sanders
Why: I'm really not sure. I have scribbled in my notebook "Young Colonel Sanders" right next to another note that says "hot as Hades." Who can be sure? But anyway, how did he go from being a colonel to being king of the chickens?
Answer: Well, for one thing, he wasn't a real colonel! ...I know! Pick your jaw up off the floor!
Turns out Harland Sanders (b. 1890) was a man of many trades, including a streetcar conductor, a steamboat operator, an insurance salesman, and a lawyer. But his father died when he was very young, and it was his job to cook for his younger siblings.
In 1930, Sanders was operating a service station in Corbin, KY, when the Great Depression hit, and he was forced to exchange fuel for chickens as local farmers literally had no money to pay for it. It was there that he began cooking for hungry travelers who stopped in for gas. He didn't have a restaurant yet, so patrons ate from his own dining table in the station's humble living quarters. It was then that he invented what's called "home meal replacement" - selling complete meals to busy, time-strapped families. He called it "Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week."
As Sanders' fame grew, Governor Ruby Laffoon made him a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 in recognition of his contributions to the state's cuisine. Within 4 years, his establishment was listed in Duncan Hines's "Adventures in Good Eating."
As more people started coming for the food, he moved across the street to increase his capacity. Over the next decade, he perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the basic cooking technique that is still used today.
Source: KFC.com, The Colonel's Kitchen
The More You Know: That Colonel's Kitchen link above has a story about Sanders's first wife, but also about how his stepfather used to beat him, which made him angry, bitter, and often violent. Look at this charmer! (second from the right there):
Colonel Sanders died in 1980 of leukemia.