There's nothing quite like that finger-lickin' good fried chicken from KFC. The fast-food chain is so immortalized in today's society that it's even become the most popular destination for Christmas dinner in Japan, with the rest of the world committed to soothing their cravings every other day of the year. There's something about the tender, moist chicken inside while the outside is covered in a perfectly crunchy, flavorful coating, akin to everything a piece of fried chicken should be.
Kentucky Fried Chicken has been making it possible to get a great southern-style dinner around the world since 1953, but many fans don't realize that Colonel Sanders - AKA Harland Sanders - was actually whipping up his recipe long before that. Kentucky Fried Chicken wasn't even a thought until after his recipe gained practically statewide recognition, and KFC wasn't even his first restaurant! We'd also tell you that the first official Kentucky Fried Chicken store wasn't even opened in Kentucky... but we're not sure you can handle it without a bucket of fried chicken and some biscuits in front of you. We'll wait.
How Harland Sanders Became The Colonel
Believe it or not, the starting path leading to Kentucky Fried Chicken began with a humble start at a gas station. Harland Sanders, who would later receive the title of 'honorary colonel' from the governor of Kentucky, actually owned a petrol station. The station was located in North Corbin, Kentucky, a town that not many, if any, outside of Kentucky know of.
It was there that Sanders began whipping up batches of fried chicken and selling them to locals and passersby, which is where he gained a local reputation for having some of the best fried chicken around. The first mention of his name in regard to any type of recognition was by Duncan Hines in 1939, in a book titled Adventures in Good Eating.
The First KFC And The End Of One Era
It quickly dawned on Sanders that he had a future in food, and, thus, the petrol station became a thing of the past. Rather than selling his fried chicken as a quick bite to eat, Sanders converted the station into a restaurant where - you guessed it - fried chicken was the main course. This wasn't too much of a loss in terms of the town's local petrol station because, by the time Sanders' Court & Cafe opened, more people were coming in for their chicken fix rather than for a gas stop.
The restaurant seated 142 people and became a well-known roadside restaurant. As fate would have it, Sanders met Peter Harmon, a restaurant owner, during a food seminar, and one thing led to another: the first official Kentucky Fried Chicken opened in Salt Lake City in 1952.
To This Day, The Recipe Is Kept Under Lock And Key
It's not entirely uncommon for people to try and decipher their favorite fast-food recipes. While many people have tried, only one fan has come close to what they believe is the real deal - but that has yet to be determined. What the world does know is that the top-secret recipe includes a unique blend of 11 different spices, none of which have ever been leaked to the public.
According to Delish, the recipe was known by none other than Sanders himself until he eventually wrote it down, and, even then, the paper was kept in his wallet. Now that KFC (which wasn't known officially as KFC until 1991) is such a huge chain, the recipe is kept - literally - in a locked location at the company's headquarters.
KFC Takes Over the World
A total of 23,000 KFC restaurants have been built around the world, which is an incredible feat for any chain restaurant. However, it's not only the fried chicken that has gained worldwide attention. Colonel Sanders, himself, has been the subject of many an advertisement, as is evident from the many commercials that star KFC's creator. Sanders has even been turned into a video game in which - again, you may have guessed it - the goal is to collect as many drumsticks as possible.
And if a video game wasn't enough, there's even a comic book depicting Sanders as a superhero. While he may not have had superpowers in real life, some fans would argue that creating some of the world's best fried chicken is a superpower - and, really, who are we to argue? The Colonel may have sold his empire in 1964 but as far as the world is concerned, he's still the most well-known fast-food figure in history.